CES 2015: Health and Wellness to Leap - David DeWolf

CES 2015 Recap #1: Health and Wellness Industries Will Leap Forward

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If you’re looking for the latest toy, coolest gadget, or weirdest picture, go ahead and check out another blog. There’s plenty of folks reporting on the sex and sizzle of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES in Las Vegas. For me, the week is more about collecting discrete data-points and connecting the dots – boiling them down into useful insights.

In this three-part series, I will share trends that I think will carry forward into 2015.

In today’s digital economy, if you’re not driving digital revenue streams, you’re at risk of major disruption. Some industries, like the Media Industry, have gone through significant digital disruption already. Several others, like Financial Services, seem to be on the cusp of an overhaul. But it is Health and Wellness industries that I believe may take the biggest jump forward in 2015.

Here’s why.

Wearables and fitness data has moved to health and wellness information.

Last year’s show saw wearables hit the mainstream for the first time. The technology felt immature. They were collecting interesting data, but, the insights and pragmatic use cases felt few and far between. We could all imagine where it would go, but, no one had brought it there.

This year was different. Wearable technology has matured, the data it provides is more accurate and comprehensive, and the software built on top of it has been applied to several pragmatic use cases – many of which are being applied to wellness and healthcare. While many are still avoiding direct contact with FDA regulated health care applications, there is definitely a push towards it.

We enter 2015 with many seeing wearables as toys for early adopters and serious athletes. We will leave the year seeing adoption from the early majority.

The Wearables Bandwagon is full, but there aren’t enough customers on it.

If I see one more wrist band that comes in different colors, has a more elegant display or is built purposefully for a specific demographic, I’m going to lose hope in humanity’s creative ability. Seriously, folks, 5,703 companies can’t win the wearables game because they look better.

Everyone seems to be experimenting with how to make wearables more than an industry phenomenon. Mass consumer adoption hasn’t happened and the form factor is the reason why. No doubt – this technology must merge into our existing life habits.

Fashion will be part, but, a commoditized part, of the solution. The winners will have advanced technology or a new application of data that provides true differentiation. The form factor innovation that matters are those that applied wearables to something totally different, not that changed the looks. Textiles, for instance. Connected underwear anyone? Don’t laugh, it may be the answer.

We will solve the mass adoption problem in 2015 and figure out how to embed the technology into everyday life. Enough people realize the issue.

Health is not only physical, it now includes mental.

Last year was the year of physiological data. This year, psychological data seemed to come to life.

Having trouble with focus? Maybe you’ll be interested in a virtual coach that claims to be able to increase mental focus by walking you through a daily routine and monitoring your brain waves. Do you struggle in your daily meditation? Why not have an EKG machine read your brainwaves and help you reduce brain activity. Why go to the hospital for an EKG when you can do it at home?

All of these gadgets felt like immature products and toys. Much like the more advanced wearables did last year.

In 2015 we’ll figure out whether mental health technology has a future and whether there’s any legitimacy to the data algorithms behind this first generation of experiments.

(Unsolicited prediction: My gut says, yes, but, not as a stand-alone product. The power will come from some level of brainwave activity data being combined with other data, including physical, and applied to larger use cases than we see now. We need to find relevant applications).

Digital health has become more useful, more applicable, and more holistic. The sector is now focused on adoption, and refinement.

What about you? Are you ready for it? Does it scare you? What industry do you think will take the biggest step forward in 2015?