Of the $401 billion that will flow through retailers for consumer technology products, many of the fastest-emerging categories will play a role as platforms for health and medical care at home and in wearable tech.

This is my tea-leaf read from reviewing the projections in the report, U.S. Consumer Technology Sales and Forecasts, July 2019, from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA).

[CTA is annual convener of CES, the world’s largest consumer electronics meet-up.]

Along with artificial intelligence (AI) and fast 5G networking, the forecast also quantifies growth prospects for smart speakers, home robots, wireless earbuds, smartwatches. and in-vehicle technology — all of which can support health and medical applications beyond commoditized activity tracking devices.

Voice-enabled devices are “changing our relationship with all audio products,” CTA believes. In 2019, 400 million products with voice enabled capabilities are expected to ship representing over $160 billion (that would be two-thirds of hardware sales).

Along with calling out the emerging tech platforms that can support health and medical applications, we should remember that smartphones are already a wellness channel and have reached saturation with over a 90% household penetration rate, CTA calculates. “Consumer demand for bigger phones with advanced technologies” like AI, biometrics, and 5G will bolster up-graded smartphone adoption.

Safety and security are also being baked into technologies, from cars to smart homes. Both cars (as a “third space” for health) and homes will grow as health hubs for consumers, which I discuss in my book, HealthConsuming. “Virtual and augmented reality, while most known for gaming, are being piloted in industrial and medical settings,” CTA also notes.

While emerging technologies are young, things like wireless earbuds, smart home tech, personal sound amplification, sports tech, smart lightbulbs and 5G connectivity will all play a part in driving health support to consumers int he coming years.

CTA updates this report twice a year, detailing over 100 consumer technology products.

Health Populi’s Hot Points:  The second graphic from the CTA forecast report details the wearables category which the methodology segments into five sub-categories: health and fitness tech, personal sound amplification (for hearables), smartwatches, sports tech, and VR/AR eyewear.

In my own vision of the retail home health/care ecosystem, these five categories can blur and combinations can serve the consumer’s health at home and on-the-move (for truly mobile health, not just “mHealth” via phone apps).

The ear, for example, is a newer physical site for health applications for heart health, for example (well beyond listening to an exercise playlist to sustain cardio workouts). VR/AR applications have evidence for pain abatement and mental health bolstering for people with PTSD or anxiety. And, smartwatches are coupling with medical devices for remote health monitoring that could once only be done with clunky, capital-intense medical devices acquired and used by hospitals or specialist clinics.

Increasingly, our homes are emerging as our health hubs where we can make health for ourselves and the people we love. That’s why for most of the past decade, CTA’s work and the annual CES go-to’s for informing my health care forecasting throughout the year….and feeding my imagination for what’s next to engage, inspire, and empower health consumers.

If you’re involved in health-tech, I highly recommend your attending the Digital Health Summit, which is held concurrently with CES at the Sands Venetian. Here’s a link to the evolving agenda; I hope to be involved in it myself, and enjoy learning from colleagues who attend the DHS each year.