Change is coming to ‘stagnant’ wearables market as heart rate sensors claim accurate monitoring

Today’s continuous monitoring tech is shifting the consumer mindset away from a reactive monitoring approach to a proactive one. And this is having a dramatic effect on the market for wearable technologies, as Jeremy Cowan reports. 

Instead of waiting for annual visits to the  doctor to get results for blood pressure and other vital signs, consumers want real-time information about their health status. So says Sui Shieh who is vice president, Industrial and Healthcare Business Unit at one wearables manufacturer, Maxim Integrated.

This shift is causing an increased demand for accurate, small, and low-power wearable devices, said to be an important enabler for this new way of thinking. As continuous monitoring and preventive healthcare become more common, both technology providers and health practitioners must embrace and accommodate these new demands to be successful, he believes.

“Global healthcare costs are high and growing,” says Sui, “with spend now running at 10% of gross domestic product (GDP) – in the US it’s $ 9 trillion. The consumer mindset is moving from reeactive to proactive, with prevention and early detection (of illness) by fitness apps, and chronic disease monitoring” with healthcare devices. But, as he goes on to say, fitness apps generally give little information; that’s why the market has been stagnant for two years.

“The market is there,” he says, “with six million users in 2016 rising to 50 million in 2021, according to analysts, Berg Insight. Our customers are now looking for clinical-grade performance (with US Food & Drug Administration certification), the longest battery life, a small size, and high accuracy.”

Sui Shieh: Wearables market is shifting towards prevention and early detection of illness

Maxim believes that it’s now able to meet these requirements. Through compact, low power solutions, it has a new range of devices that enable accurate monitoring of vital signs to monitor wellness/fitness and prevent health problems before they even begin.

Maxim’s portfolio of sensors for wearable health and fitness applications allows consumers to accurately monitor a variety of key vital signs while being mindful of low power (for longer battery life) and small size (for convenience and comfort). The MAX86140 and MAX86141 can be used to measure PPG signals on the wrist, finger, and ear to detect heart rate, heart rate variability, and pulse oximetry.

The MAX30001 measures ECG and BioZ on the chest and wrist to detect heart rate, respiration, and arrhythmias. Compared to competitive solutions, the MAX86140 and MAX86141 is claimed to require less than half the power and is approximately one third smaller, while the MAX30001 requires approximately half the power in almost half the size. By collecting beat to beat data about the heart, these solutions collect accurate data so users can recognize important symptoms when they first begin. In addition, the MAX30001 meets IEC60601-2-47, clinical ECG standards.

“The convergence of clinical grade diagnostics in form factors small enough to integrate into all sorts of smart, everyday clothing is impressive,” said Adrian Straka, director of Hardware and Manufacturing, SKIIN. “The ultra-small MAX30001 enables SKIIN’s bio-sensing underwear to monitor and track health […]

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Boiler company Baxi boosts first-time fix rate

Baxi boosts first-time-fix rate with Zebra Technologies

Baxi Heating UK has revamped the computer equipment used by its field service engineers, opting for a rugged handheld device that can scan barcodes, access remote information and even support engineers’ WhatsApp chats.

The resulting spike in first-time-fix rates and customer satisfaction pleases both Baxi and its customers.

Boiler busted – but not for long

Boiler engineers need to be efficient, knowledgeable and capable. They’ve long used technology to help with diagnosis and fixing of broken boilers.

Baxi UK has taken its technology to the next level by giving service engineers a handheld computer that offers a wide range of services based around modern access to information both through social sharing and Baxi’s own back end.

Zebra Technologies’ Android-powered TC75 handheld computers give engineers access to their own email account, a special forum where they can ask for technical help and advice, their own WhatsApp group for sharing local knowledge and information, and the ability to share videos and photos to help them get advice from colleagues in real time.

All this has helped raise the first-time-fix rate by more than 4,000 jobs in the first 12 months of deployment, bringing customer satisfaction level to over 90 percent.

Read more: Energy: How ENEL is using IoT to embrace the ‘energy revolution’

It’s all about the data

This access to information is invaluable, but there’s more: the devices will be used to share boiler performance data with Baxi’s research & development and quality departments, where they’ll play a part in the company’s continuous improvement strategy.

Where a first-time-fix isn’t possible, the engineer can access inventory and order spare parts on the spot, as well as show the customer brochures. Workflows benefit too, as engineers can easily see information about jobs they need to complete. The system even completes electronic timecards to log work time.

Steve Randal, service operations manager at Baxi Heating told Internet of Business, “The engineer can take photos and video and send it to the R&D and Quality departments to inform future improvements.

“All the safety data from the engineer can be sent back to the office, which in turn helps us to improve safety and efficiency for the engineers. For example, they are now given time to carry out risk assessments, attend safety inductions where necessary and are assigned appropriate amount of time, rather than just be given the time to do the service or repair. This has helped us to plan the engineers’ days more effectively.”

Bringing all the Things together

The big plus of the Zebra Technologies TC75 computer is that it brings so much together in one place, with both interactive elements and an information rich back end to help the engineer complete as many repairs as possible on their first visit.

Randal said, “Getting technical information and advice while on the job gives the engineer greater confidence, meaning more first-time fixes and more customer satisfaction.”

Read more: Smart energy systems to help tackle fuel poverty on Isles of Scilly

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