USA: Bluetooth Smart is becoming the standard of choice for wireless connectivity in medical and fitness devices. Since 2008, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) qualified 142 medical products and 56 fitness products.
The LifeScan Blood Glucose Monitoring System, recently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), from Johnson & Johnson, is only the most recent and high profile example of this trend to improve the consumer health experience by adding Bluetooth connectivity.
Moreover, medical industry organizations like the European Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association (EHIMA), are working with the Bluetooth SIG to define the user interface and build profiles to support what will become common medical device use cases.
“Bluetooth member companies are rethinking and redesigning how we manage, track and monitor our health, from vital medical stats to our everyday fitness, and building products better with Bluetooth,” said Suke Jawanda, Bluetooth SIG CMO. “I have seen firsthand how difficult it is for a patient to effectively and consistently track glucose levels to manage diabetes. Wirelessly sending data from a monitor where it was previously trapped, and sharing it with patients and doctors is not just about ease of use, it is about accurate management of a debilitating disease.”
More and more, devices like glucose monitors, blood pressure monitors, hearing aids, back-end patient-monitoring platforms like Swissmed Mobile, and even asthma inhalers are leveraging the low power consumption, low cost, small form factor and ubiquitous benefits of Bluetooth Smart.
For instance, Asthmapolis, who announced FDA clearance in July 2012, builds an inhaler sensor that works with an accompanying mobile phone application to capture information that aids in day-to-day asthma management. By 2016, more wireless-enabled consumer medical devices are projected to use Bluetooth Smart than any other wireless technology, with 5.7 million product shipments representing more than 50 percent of the wireless-enabled consumer medical device market, reports IMS Research – now part of IHS Inc.
Added Jawanda, “increasingly, manufacturers view Bluetooth technology not only as medical grade, but also as one allowing them to create a new breed of more useful medical products – made possible by the near-universal availability of Bluetooth in smartphones, tablets, and other devices consumers own.”
Fitness equipment is also being built better with Bluetooth Smart. The official Boston Training treadmill by PRO-FORM from ICON Health & Fitness adjusts speed using Bluetooth Smart, improving training and the user’s insight into their fitness regimen.
ABI Research forecasts shipments of Bluetooth enabled sports-and-fitness devices will surpass 120 million per annum by 2017, representing over 75 percent of the total available market. This is being driven by the industry trend away from proprietary solutions and toward Bluetooth Smart Devices.