Reimagining Healthcare Through Wearable Tech And Collaboration

Editor’s note: Unity Stoakes is the co-founder and president of StartUp Health.

Tech giants are making early moves to partner as they see business opportunities emerge in the digital healthcare market.

Earlier in December, we learned that Intel will replace Texas Instruments as the provider of chips for Google Glass. We also learned that the company plans to promote Glass as a workplace-computing device to healthcare workers and that physicians may begin using Glass as an application to record electronic health data.

The union of these two tech titans, joining forces to advance wearable technology and its application to healthcare, is encouraging. But the truth is, the potential for further industry collaboration is just beginning.

While the mainstream has focused largely on the activity-tracker craze, the reality is that opportunity and impact of wearable health is only just beginning. Not only is the movement toward consumerism in healthcare and the leading tech companies of our time shepherding us here, but a growing force of early stage innovation is completely rethinking how wearables can change our health and wellness.

Unlike other industries, healthcare is plagued by regulation and longer product development timelines. Bringing successful products to market is challenging for both large industry players and digital health entrepreneurs. Startups need access to advisors, peers and dollars, while large companies need ‘batteries included’ entrepreneurs fueling innovation. The unprecedented level of change gripping the healthcare industry today presents both challenges and opportunities for both.

Take a look at BASIS Science, one of our portfolio companies and an early entrant into the wearable space. BASIS benefitted from a network of entrepreneurs and innovations and received ongoing support infrastructure to navigate challenges as they scaled. All this led to its acquisition by Intel in March 2014.

Innovation within wearables today extends well beyond activity trackers to enabling improved quality of life, building on valuable data and information that these new devices collect with ease. MC10 is developing several home diagnosis and remote monitoring tools, including a patch for babies that monitors and wirelessly transmits temperature to smartphones.

Google is partnering with Novartis to develop a smart contact lens with the potential to monitor the wearer’s blood sugar levels. Oxitone has created the world’s first mobile bracelet health monitor for continuous supervision of pulmonary, heart and sleep-related diseases. And Cerora, which, through a headset, delivers actionable diagnostic information regarding concussions and brain injury, with further application to Alzheimer’s disease.

Intel’s push into healthcare speaks to the fact that we are living in an extraordinary moment in history where big data, sensors and connected devices are making it possible to reimagine healthcare, and the amount of opportunity is undeniable.

We’re already living in a world where technology is being designed into and onto everything around us. Our beds, cars and refrigerators collect data with the potential to better understand ourselves. Imagine what will happen over the coming years as an army of entrepreneurs bring their innovations to the world and start partnering in exciting new ways with the healthcare industry to refashion healthcare together.