Smart technology has the power to dramatically alter consumer trends, social norms, and the way we interact with the world around us. Over the last 30-some years, we’ve seen the creation of the internet, Photoshop, portable GPS, mobile broadband, and Google Search. Within a short period of time, each of these inventions has significantly shaped reality. As the effects of the pandemic ramp up these already rapid technological advancements, it’s certainly worth considering what our futures may look like over the next few decades and what this may mean for existing devices, such as smartphones.
Throughout this three-part series on the future of integrated smart technology, we’ll explore why the market is shifting away from smartphones, share some of the most innovative ways smart technology is being integrated into our everyday lives, and discuss what this change could mean for our future. In this article, we focus on what these changes could mean for the healthcare and wellness industries.
The end of the smartphone era
“The smartphone as we know it today is dying out,” share writers Simon Lohmann and Karen Haslam of Macworld—and they’re not alone in making this observation. While smartphones were a groundbreaking innovation when IBM debuted the Simon in 1994, they’ve evolved into a yearly cadence of iterative improvements that lack true innovation. Consumers today expect the next smartphone they purchase to come with a better camera and better screen quality, but how long can companies like Apple and Samsung continue to improve these same features?
The Verge predicts that while consumers will still use smartphones in the future, at a certain point “each phone launch will be less exciting than the last.” They go on to speculate that phones may begin to “function as a kind of fashion [that] follows yearly trends.” In other words, smartphones may become less about functionality and more about style.
Of course, one of the biggest indicators that smartphones are beginning their decline comes from the public announcements and financial reports of major players in this space. In April 2021, LG announced they would be exiting “the incredibly competitive mobile phone sector” to focus on smart home products, artificial intelligence, robotics, electric vehicle components, and IoT devices. And while Apple and Samsung have not expressed a desire to stop producing smartphones, their financial statements from 2021 indicate a shift toward IoT devices as well.
Apple’s net sales for the product category “wearables, home, and accessories” increased by $14.6 million between 2020 and 2021. Samsung’s financial report from Q3 2021 states that throughout COVID, “Device Ecosystem products such as wearables continued material growth.” As supply chain issues and the uncertainty surrounding COVID continue, Samsung claims they “will proactively target replacement demand with competitive mass-market 5G lineup and increase sales of Device Ecosystem products such as wearables.”
So, what does this mean for consumers? Let’s explore some of the most innovative emerging products to find out.
Smart technology in healthcare
Throughout the pandemic, hospitals around the world have reached their maximum capacity time and time again. In many areas, medical professionals were left to make the difficult decision of which patients they could admit, and which patients needed to seek care elsewhere. While this certainly spurred an increase in the telehealth industry, smart technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) have the potential to make healthcare even more efficient, convenient, and personalized.
While fitness trackers and smartwatches are now a normal part of many people’s lives, similar technologies can allow doctors to monitor their patients’ vitals remotely, which could make healthcare more accessible in the future. By monitoring vital health signs, such as heart rate and temperature, healthcare professionals can more accurately track diseases and illnesses as they progress. Some wearable biosensors can even administer proactive care.
For people with pre-existing conditions, these wearable devices are more than simply convenient. They could save lives. In fact, BMJ states that “66% of asthma deaths could have been prevented with smart technology monitoring like connected inhalers.”
In addition to connecting people with their healthcare providers, these wearable devices can share data with local emergency departments, first responders, and ambulances to improve their response time in emergency situations. This technology can also make it easier for emergency departments to connect with healthcare providers to ensure they have access to the most thorough information available before their next patient even arrives at their healthcare facility. This can save a considerable amount of time and improve the care patients receive.
Smart technology in wellness
In addition to providing better healthcare to patients, smart technology has the potential to improve their overall well-being. EnsoData is one company that is using smart technology to more accurately diagnose health conditions and improve wellness. The company’s co-founder and CEO, Chris Fernandez, explains that consumers today can purchase “smart beds and next-gen mattress accessories that provide some degree of sleep climate control through temperature adjustment, air circulation, firmness, and much more to optimize a person’s sleep,” but the potential for AI in this category is incredible.
While wearables and nearables are popular devices, airables are an up-and-coming invention that combine wireless signals like radio waves or Doppler effect radar with existing wireless transmitters and sensors to capture information about an individual’s sleep. To collect data, Fernandez shares that airables “bounce Wi-Fi waves, radio waves, and sounds at a frequency higher than we can hear, captured back through a standard microphone.”
Yet another option is video-based sleep sensing, which identifies slight changes in a person’s face skin color to detect heart rate and other information that assesses whether the individual is asleep. Fernandez states that there is potential for this video-based technology to be “deployed to car dashboards to help ensure commercial and consumer drivers hauling long hours stay awake.”
In our next article, we’ll be exploring how integrated smart technology has the potential to impact the fitness and sports industries. We’ll also share an example of how one company is using smart technology to create a safer world. Follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter for updates!
Interested in learning more about smart technology in the health and wellness industries? Here are some resources we found useful when writing this article:
- “Why the end of the smartphone is imminent” by Simon Lohmann and Karen Haslam (Macworld)
- “The smartphone, circa 2031” by Dieter Bohn, Allison Johnson, and Chris Welch (The Verge)
- “The smartphone is dead” by Simon Rockman (Tech Advisor)
- “LG will shut down smartphone business in July to focus on smart home, robotics” by Shara Tibken (CNET)
- “Condensed consolidated statements of operations” from Apple Inc.
- “Samsung electronics announces third quarter 2021 results” from Samsung Newsroom
- “Wearables, nearables, and airables, oh my! The future of sleep technology” by Chris Fernandez (Forbes)
- “From the internet to the iPhone, here are the 20 most important inventions of the last 30 years” by Kevin Webb (Business Insider)
- “Smart healthcare: making medical care more intelligent” (Global Health Journal)
- “Two thirds of deaths from asthma are preventable, confidential inquiry finds” by Ingrid Torjesen (BMJ)
- “5 Examples of Smart Technology in Healthcare” (Impact My Biz)