A Short History of Wearables & What the Future of Wearable Tech in Healthcare Will Look Like

From its inception as a collection of cumbersome gadgets to its transformation into sleek, almost invisible tech integrations, wearable technology has come a long way. And as wearables have evolved over time — to be more in line with consumers’ needs and wants — they have edged ever closer to the realm of healthcare.

What will be the impact of wearable technology in healthcare today and in the future? Only time will tell, but we can learn a lot from the patterns we’re already witnessing.

A Brief History of Wearable Technology in Healthcare

Wearable technology in healthcare began as simple accessories, devices that could be strapped and attached to the body. The market erupted with tools like the Apple Watch and Fitbit, which were basically extensions of our smartphones and mostly used for telling time and counting steps.

Eventually, the market expanded, and consumers realized that these tools weren’t just handy; they were also health-conscious. Elite athletes and weekend warriors were the first groups to prove wearable devices could truly improve health and fitness by monitoring heart rates and activity levels.

In 2013, Google Glass came on the scene, introducing the concept of more integrated wearable technology. From here, the range of materials and nanomaterials that innovators began using to develop wearable technology expanded. Sensors captured biometric data, such as blood pressure, empowering consumers and healthcare providers to gain control and granular insights into their wellness. Today, devices like the Oura Ring and WHOOP bands can monitor stress, measure blood oxygen levels, help prevent illness, improve sleep on a scientific level, and much more.

Of course, the evolution of wearable technology in healthcare has also been shaped by its challenges. Early hurdles included durability and sustainability. Innovators needed to figure out how to create products that could be washed and worn safely without losing efficacy. Engineers developed methods of transforming existing cloth items into battery-free wearables resistant to laundry. As challenges like these are solved, devices will continue to evolve and have increased use cases.


Consumer preferences and feedback have caused wearable trends to shift over time.

Consumers have shown increasing awareness of their mental and physical health over the last decade, accompanied by an increased desire to practice a healthy lifestyle. Health-conscious consumers are taking control of their wellness and choosing technology products that are personalized to them and can help them stay healthy proactively.

Wearable technologies have responded to these consumer trends. As consumer health awareness has grown — and their expectation for increased function from products — technologies like wearable step counters and infrared-responsive textiles have focused more on delivering data-driven health insights. Companies have also partnered with healthcare manufacturers and providers to ensure the validity of their health claims and help consumers get the most out of their treatment plans.

Wearable technology in healthcare has also evolved according to aesthetics and other preferences. A preference for seamlessness has led to the miniaturization of wearable components, a need for portability has led to advances in battery technology, and a desire for personalization has led to a shift toward variety and customization.

What Are the Benefits of Wearable Technology in Healthcare?

How can wearables help today’s health-aware consumer? Here are some of the benefits of wearable technology in healthcare settings:


Wearables can improve wearers’ health by increasing their awareness of certain factors. When individuals are able to monitor their own vital signs — such as heart rate, sleep patterns, and blood sugar levels — they can gain access to personalized healthcare.

For example, sleep has traditionally been measured in terms of quantity — that seven to nine hours is the ideal amount of sleep we need each night. But if we aren’t getting quality sleep in those seven to nine hours, then the sleep isn’t valuable. Today’s wearable technology makes it easier to identify tangible metrics around sleep habits so we can improve them.


Wearables help people understand how their daily habits are impacting their overall well-being. They can make the connection between the meal they ate and their indigestion, between the quality of their sleep and their attention the following day.

Plus, with understanding comes insight, and with insight comes ownership. When people feel connected to their own health profile, they become more motivated to change things for the better.


Wearables don’t just provide opportunities to boost wellness; they also provide a chance for wearers to spot problems quickly and in real time. Detect a change in a pattern, a worrying heart rate trend, or a worsening chronic condition, and a person can get the help they need rapidly, lowering the risk of knock-on problems.


When people are connected to data about their health, they are able to give their healthcare providers more accurate, timely portraits of their symptoms. This leads to more effective health outcomes and better long-term relationships between providers and patients. For people with diabetes, for instance, being able to track insulin levels and report them to their providers is critical. Wearables make this possible.

What Does the Future of Wearable Technology in Healthcare Look Like?

The market of wearable technology in healthcare will continue to flourish, thanks to advances in technology and a boom in consumer interest. It’s already estimated to become a $109 billion industry by 2024.

As wearables become more mainstream, democratizing medical devices for personal use, the benefits of wearable technology in healthcare will become better understood, accepted, and adopted by a wider group. From proactive diabetes care to heart attack alerts, the long-term future of wearable technology in healthcare will increasingly become more preventive rather than reactive, as we not only measure our vitals, but also use the data as a catalyst for self-improvement.

Interested in discussing this topic and more with our team? Fill out the form below to get in touch.  


Seth Casden is the CEO and co-founder of Hologenix, a materials science company dedicated to developing products that amplify human potential. CELLIANT®, its flagship technology, is an infrared ingredient brand that enhances textile-based products with health and wellness benefits across performance, recovery and sleep.  This article was originally published in Electronic Health Reporter.