Healthcare @CES 2022

“Health is at the center of our ability to live a full life, and the acceleration of health technology has the potential to improve more lives in more places than ever before. We look forward to sharing some of the latest health tech advancements and future possibilities at CES 2022.”

Robert Ford, CEO and Board Chairman, Abbott Labs
Image Credit: Consumer Technology Association

Last week the annual technology geek-fest known as the Consumer Electronics Show was held in Las Vegas. Diminished by widespread concern about the Covid-19 pandemic, attendance at the latest edition of the CES tech trade show was down more than 75% from the last live version of the show in 2020. According to data released late Friday by the Computer Technology Association, which sponsors the event, “well over 40,000” people attended the show, which is down from the 171,000-plus who were on hand for the 2020 edition. In 2021, the event was all virtual. The total includes 1,800 media attendees, down from 6,517 two years ago.

I always like to track CES and see what new gadgets and products companies are propositioning for market entry. Of course, many of these products will not be huge successes. Some may not end up being sold at all, as Andy Inhatko points out in this Tweet:

Andy Ihnatko

I enjoyed following the online coverage, especially the reporting on health care technology. The best tech summary I found was this post by Laura Lovett on MobiHealthNews. Here are my top takeaways from this year’s event.

For the first time at CES, a health care company executive delivered the keynote address. Abbotts CEO Robert Ford’s talk was titled “Human-Powered Health: Unlocking the Possibility of You.” You can view the entire keynote below:

YouTube video credit: Abbott

So, what did Abbott have to announce? A new line of biowearables they are calling Lingo. Here’s a video describing these bio wearables:

YouTube video credit: Abbott

Connected health was certainly front and center at CES again this year. Product announcements from Omron who laid out the roadmap for how it will build up an ecosystem of health services around its products, including a broad expansion of its remote patient monitoring services in the U.S. and a global launch of a hypertension-focused service in the U.K.; Withings, well-known for its consumer health wearables, announced a new souped-up connected scale “with the ability to monitor segmental body composition, heart rate, and vascular age” as well as “nerve activity and heart rhythm using a 6-lead ECG”; and Highmark Health and Bosch who will team up to test the industrial giant’s SoundSee audio AI tech to see if it can detect pediatric pulmonary conditions.

“One of the great things about connected technology, implantable or wearable, is that it puts the patient in control.”

Leslie Saxon, M.D., Executive Director, USC Center for Body Computing

The Oura Ring isn’t the only smart ring on the block anymore. For CES 2022, health tech company Movano announced the Movano Ring, a wearable that aims to help people affordably monitor chronic illnesses and better understand their data. The Movano Ring will measure all the essential metrics, including heart rate, heart rate variability (HRV), sleep, respiration, temperature, blood oxygen levels, steps, and calories burned. However, instead of a raw data dump, Movano says it’ll distill how your metrics relate to each other “take a more proactive approach to mitigating the risks of chronic disease.” For example, the Movano app might tell you how your exercise habits impact your sleeping patterns or HRV over time. While the first Movano Ring won’t have FDA clearances, the goal is to eventually get Class II designation and add medical features like non-invasive glucose monitoring and cuffless blood pressure in a “step-by-step” manner over time. To do that, the company is conducting clinical trials for its radio frequency-enabled tech and algorithms, as well as accuracy studies to gain FDA clearance for heart rate, SpO2, and respiratory rate monitoring.

Image credit: Movano

TV manufacturer LG announced that all 2021 and 2022 LG smart TVs would be equipped with a health education and telehealth app from the senior-focused health platform Independa. The platform will allow users to set up and have telehealth appointments through their TV. People who enable the Independa Health Hub on their TVs will also be able to message, and video chat with friends and family members. LG integrated notifications directly into the TVs’ operating systems, so users who sign up with the Independa Health Hub will still get alerts even if they’re not actively using the app. Users will get free access to a pharmacy benefit plan called Capital Rx, which offers discounts on prescriptions, and to video content geared towards older adults. For a fee, they can sign up for a network of wellness videos and exercise videos.

Image Credit: Independa

Another hot topic was elder care. Elder tech startups at this year’s CES demonstrated the potential breadth of the sector. If tech can help an older person live more comfortably, it can also help other people. After all, the usefulness of mobility aids, health monitoring platforms, and long-term financial planning isn’t limited to the elderly. The list of companies demonstrating products in this space is too long to cover in this post. Tech Crunch’s Catherine Shu provided the best summary I’ve seen in her online article.

Of course, A.I. was promoted heavily across multiple applications and platforms. The gamut of use cases spanned robots, autonomous vehicles, smart gadgets, and wearables, as covered above.

An area of increased focus this year was mental health. A new report was published in December 2021 by CES’s convener, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), titled the Mental Wellness Technology Landscape — just in time for CES 2022. The report focuses on the convergence of mental and behavioral health with technology, describing the range of mental wellness tech available in the market.

Image Credit: becker at.al., Pew Research

As always, many new products were announced or demonstrated at CES. It will be interesting to see how many make it into production and are successful in the market. But it’s nice to see that health care innovation is alive and well despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, supply chain constraints, and decreased funding. And what has this year’s CES taught us about the future of trade shows? While the sponsors of these events are eager to bring them back, the attendees are a lot less certain. Trade shows certainly aren’t going away, but CES 2022 taught us that there’s no reason to sprint back to what they used to be either.

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