The Expanding World of Health Sensors

It’s been fascinating to watch the number of health sensors blow up over the years. The sad part of the last 3-5 years has been that a huge majority of the sensors that were hitting the market were essentially me too products. How many fitness trackers, blood pressure cuffs, smart scales, heart rate monitors, etc do we need. No doubt each of these products has produced some successful businesses, but have they really moved the needle on healthcare? My answer is no and that’s because these health sensors aren’t very clinically relevant.

The good thing is that I’ve started to see a wider variety of sensors that measure everything imaginable on your body. None of these have been breakout hits yet, but that’s largely because they’re trying to really measure something that’s clinically relevant versus creating a consumer toy.

There are a lot of ways to look at the health sensor market, but one way is to look at which part of the body they’re using to measure some health indicator. Here’s a list of some of the sensors I’ve seen over the past couple years (starting with the obvious ones):

  • Skin
  • Motion
  • Sweat
  • Blood
  • Eye
  • Visual
  • Brainwaves
  • Stool
  • Blood Flow
  • Spit

As you can see, there are companies working on measuring every output we produce in order to try and understand our health.  Some of these we’ve been doing forever like blood tests.  Labs are such an important part of healthcare.  However, what’s different about the latest generation of health sensors is that most of these health sensors are going direct to consumers as opposed to selling to the healthcare providers.

Think about that shift. That’s a massive change. Plus, the ironic part is that many healthcare providers are adopting and using consumer sensors in their healthcare organizations. I’m also interested in how this shift in information is going to change the balance of power in healthcare. Information is power.

Are there other sensors out there that you see coming to market? Which ones do you think will be most clinically relevant?