While a phrase containing the words “health” and “Las Vegas” may seem a dichotomy, there will be a lot of health-tangent goods and services I’ll be seeking next week at the annual CES.

This year, health will be ubiquitous at this huge conference, whose three-letter acronym for “consumer electronics show” typically conjures up images of shiny new things in the guise of automobiles, video games, big TV screens, and drones.

At CES 2018, health will go beyond wearable tech and the first phase of fitness that’s been growing at the meeting over the past five years since I began attending the meeting in 2013. That’s when digital health’s footprint was focused on primarily on wristbands and smart scales, and some pioneers in the area of heart monitoring and stress management.

From a logistical standpoint, CES has, physically, grown well beyond the Las Vegas Convention Center, and is housed in several conference spaces throughout the town. Most of the health/care exhibitors, strictly defined, will be found in the Sands Convention space. However, as I broadly define health through the health-consumers’ lens, I began to explore health across the Vegas strip, from the LVCC all the way across town to the Cosmopolitan Hotel where companies like Facebook and Google convene with ad agencies and communication companies. These organizations also serve up health content and social support for people, every day.

I also look forward to spending time with home appliance manufacturers such as Whirlpool (which I wrote about here in Health Populi praising its Care, Everywhere, mantra) and Samsung, whose CEO told us at CES last year that by 2020, all their “things” would be connected.

It’s this Internet of Things paradigm that underpins a lot of health at CES 2018, well beyond the wrist or weight scale. The opportunity that cheaper, smaller, ubiquitous sensors provide our homes, cars, and recently, prescription drugs, to “sense” and generate data about us – at the margin of the “N of 1” – can eventually make healthcare better and help us make health at home, at work, and on the go in our cars – that “fourth” space that I heard a lot about from auto companies last year at CES.

As a girl born and bred in greater Detroit, you can’t take the Motown out of me, and so indeed, I’ll be meeting up with a few auto manufacturers to explore wellness and transportation. Some of these discussions will touch on autonomous vehicles, but there are opportunities even today to bolster health through safe driving and wellness en route on car trips. For example, last year, Philips and Mercedes were working on a healthy car concept, and since then, there have been many announcements coupling auto companies’ bundling various aspects of health and wellness into concept car designs.

Underpinning all of this are market drivers that foster consumers’ adoption of digital health tech for self-care across the continuum, from wellness to managing chronic conditions. These include:

  • Consumers’ growing demand for self-service and enchanting consumer experiences
  • Patients’ increasing financial exposure to health care costs
  • Healthcare providers growing exposure to financial risk via value-based payments
  • Consumers’ fast adoption of personal digital assistants at home, providing an entrée platform beyond the mobile phone to Internet-of-Things (IoT) for daily living and health
  • Peoples’ increasing expectations for enchanting design and streamlined life-flow.

Here are some general themes I’ll be exploring next week for digital health innovations, in and beyond “health/care” exhibitors:

  • More health-tech baked with fashion – look to Fossil for an expanding range of wrist-wearables that incorporate the Misfit tech knowledge
  • Lots of hearable tech (bolstered by recently-passed legislation in the U.S. expanding over-the-counter access to hearing aids)
  • More sleep tech innovations from legacy players (such as Sleep Number) and new-entrants to the field
  • IoT devices for beauty-as-health and wellness, especially for skin care and oral care
  • Remote home monitoring from both mature companies who have grown the category and new cos
  • Heart monitoring baked into more wristband devices going mainstream
  • More connected food prep and nutrition devices that speak to health and wellness
  • Connected cars for health that go beyond wellness inching toward health/care.

As you can tell from this list, I’ll need more than one pair of comfortable shoes to walk the miles of aisles that touch on consumer health. Stay tuned to Health Populi every day next week, from 8th through 12th January, for daily insights I’m learning on-the-ground at #CES2018. I’m mid-wifing a panel At the Digital Health Summit on 10th January featuring experts from J&J, Nokia and Teladoc brainstorming putting healthcare into consumers’ hands, so one of my posts will summarize that discussion. Finally, I’ll be tweeting live from #CES2018 via my Twitter handle, @HealthyThinker.

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