i3 | January 04, 2021

Making Health A Priority

Kyle Wandel

Note: This article was written before CTA’s most recent forecast; see the January 2021 U.S. Consumer Technology One-Year Industry Forecast for CTA’s latest projections.

In the era of COVID-19, products such as smartwatches, fitness trackers and health monitoring devices are at the forefront as health issues are now a top priority for many people. According to CTA’s Industry Sector Forecast: Health and Fitness report, health and fitness industry revenues were predicted to take a slight dip in 2020 but bounce back in 2021 with shipment revenues expected to grow by 3%. Looking at the five-year outlook, the health sector is forecast to grow to $11 billion in revenues by 2024, a 36% increase from 2020.

Connected Devices

The pandemic has put a strong focus on monitoring health beyond just tracking fitness activities. Health monitoring devices (which encompass app-connected products that, for example, can track heart rate, blood pressure, temperature and blood glucose) have gained awareness out of the heightened need for people to monitor their temperature and blood oxygen levels. Connected health monitoring devices can track patients and their health progress over time, making them an ideal way to manage long-term illnesses and chronic conditions.

Connected devices also enable medical professionals to follow their patient’s progress in real-time, which leads to better care for the individual. Just six million connected health monitoring devices shipped in 2019, as this product category is still young. According to CTA’s July 2020 Consumer Technology One Year Forecast 2016-2019, unit shipments for connected health monitoring devices rose 75% in 2020 to 10.4 million, with continued double digit annual growth for the five year forecast window.

Tracking Fitness Goals

It is difficult to find a fitness enthusiast that does not own a fitness tracker or a smartwatch. Even casual exercisers enjoy tracking their daily steps and fitness goals, and often the investment in a fitness device can encourage positive changes in daily habits leading to better health. According to CTA, smartwatches are the leading revenue generator in the health and fitness sector now.

Smartwatch revenues are predicted to reach over $7 billion by the end of 2024, up from $5.5 billion in 2020. Although they face competition from smartwatches, fitness trackers will see annual shipments remaining above 15 million for the extent of CTA’s forecast.

I can Hear You

The health tech industry is also poised to help those with hearing loss this year, as manufacturers await the Federal Drug Administration’s final word on regulations addressing over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, 15% of American adults report some trouble hearing. OTC hearing aids will offer more affordable options to millions of Americans that have difficulties hearing. At the end of 2020, CTA estimated that almost 1.9 million OTC hearing aids and other personal sound amplification products would ship; and over 6.5 million will ship annually by end of 2024, a 245% increase from 2020.

The health and fitness sector has a promising road ahead as manufacturers develop new applications and finetune software platforms. With the pandemic bringing health and well-being into focus, this sector will benefit from growing consumer awareness in the years to come.

CES 2021 conference sessions will cover updates and opportunities in the digital health arena.

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