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For over 50 years CES has been a staple in the consumer electronics space. Held in Las Vegas, Nevada, the trade show hosts products and presentations from diverse industries such as Auto, Robotics, and Health & Wellness.
Walking through the halls of the Sands Expo Center, it was hard not to be completely taken aback by the astonishing amount of new technology. In addition to the thousands of exhibitors, the conference was attended by almost 200,000 visitors, making it the largest trade event I have ever witnessed. In this article, I’ll touch on some of the highlights of my experience while walking through the controlled chaos known as CES.
Sleep disorders and chronic short sleep are associated with increased rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. With 79% of Americans getting less than the recommended amount of sleep each night, it’s no surprise that sleep tech was a major player at the conference.
Innovations included everything from smart beds that can sense your movement during the night and adjust mattress firmness accordingly, to pillows that sync to your breathing and slowly decrease your number of breaths per minute— helping you relax into a peaceful night’s sleep.
Pain Management Devices
A few years ago I might have scoffed at the idea of a non-therapeutic pain device, especially as someone who suffers from chronic back pain. That was until I started experimenting with the tuning of my guitar to the pitch standard of 432 Hz rather than 440 Hz. Almost immediately I noticed how the change of frequency positively affected my mood. Several of the devices showcased at CES utilized the same type of frequency-based therapy, while others focused on nerve stimulation.
This will certainly be a space to watch over the next decade, especially now that the current opioid epidemic has reached an economic burden to the tune of over $78.5 billion per year in the US.
I have to admit that I did not know much regarding this space before attending CES 2019. But while listening to a baby tech-focused panel, I learned that this space is several decades behind others in the market—likely one of the reasons I lacked awareness. Despite this, you wouldn’t have known baby tech was lagging by walking through the digital health halls. From smart breast pumps to baby cams and fertility trackers, there was no shortage of gadgets geared towards the new breed of millennial parents.
Key highlights of mine included the Breathing Band and Swaddle garments that track a baby’s breathing rate and will notify parents if breathing motion ceases.
While not an entirely new area within health management, medication adherence products had a dominating presence on the show floor. This is not shocking given the focus of reducing costs across the entire healthcare system. A popular exhibit was the PRIA Home Care Companion which allows caregivers to monitor medication and healthcare schedules while still allowing the patient to maintain an independent lifestyle.
Wellness and Wearables
It would not be a proper write-up of the conference without a nod to wearables. In fact, wearables made up a significant portion of products featured in the Digital Health track of the conference. I have been a user of the Apple Watch for several years now and can attest to the impact it has had on my overall fitness and health. That being said, the wellness products at CES took the concepts introduced to the masses via the Apple Watch and Fitbit to a whole new level.
There were smart watches, brain stimulation devices, smart belts, innovative hearing aids, patient monitoring tools, and snore relief bands. What was most impressive about the devices was their seamless integration with today’s smartphone tech. It was obvious that almost as much time was spent on the functionality and user journey of the phone applications as the products themselves.
CES was a great opportunity to witness the power of healthcare being placed in the hands (literally) of patients rather than just providers. Over the last few decades, I’ve been fortunate witness a drastic change in healthcare—especially how people view their own health management. As the healthcare ecosystem continues to evolve, it’s going to be very exciting to see how all of these innovations impact individuals and our healthcare system as a whole.