Wearable Sensors – A Promising Technology

Wearable sensing technology experienced a transformation from imagination to the development of a wide range of products specifically in the field of consumer electronics and healthcare. This explosion of wearable sensors can be credited to factors like increasing demand for miniaturized real-time health monitoring devices along with an increasing consumer health awareness. In addition, the outbreak of smartphones and connected devices coupled with the growing demand from medical professionals to obtain constant data from their patients is further putting an impact on the wearable sensors market growth.

wearable sensors market

Wearable sensors utility has been mainly realized for varied medical applications where by monitoring a patient’s real-time data can help doctors to effectively plan out the treatment and hence this may result in a timely cure of the disease. Thus, improving the patient’s quality of life and contributing to longevity. One of the major applications lies in the disease management of the elderly patients where through the use of wearable technology, the healthcare costs can be reduced to a greater extent. The emerging trend of Ambient Assistive Living (AAL) has led to the combination of the social environments with the state-of-the-art technology for improving the quality of life of the occupants. Several research activities are going on for the enhancement and enabling of the utilization of assistive technologies within the home environment. The collection of such technologies is referred to Ambient Intelligence (AAL) that is focused on providing support to people through enabling them to attain their day-to-day objectives. AAL is not only related to the integration of technologies like sensors and associated domains such as computer science and engineering among others, but it also focusses on the implementation of such technologies. Hence, the growing geriatric population along with the increasing demand for remote health monitoring are the driving factors responsible for the rapid growth of the wearable sensors market.

Population Ages 65 Years and Above, Male, 2014-2019

wearable sensors market

Source: The World Bank Group

Population Ages 65 Years and Above, Female, 2014-2019

wearable sensors market

Source: The World Bank Group

Flexible Wearable Biosensors and Bioelectronic Tattoos

Flexible wearable sensors are utilized for the measurement of symptoms that are motor-related and include balance and gait symptoms among others. The development of patient-friendly sensors can be placed on knees and legs and this further allows the development of digital biomarker systems that would help in continuous monitoring of a patient’s activity and thus, contribute to enhancing patient care.  Flexible wearable sensors in the form of bioelectronic tattoos contain ultrathin sensors that can be easily adjusted onto the human body and report to a cloud-based software system in order to provide user access for securing real-time important physiological data. These new-age wearable sensors require a range of clinical studies for gaining an in-depth analysis and understanding of varied real-world applications. The growing adoption of cloud-based platform is further augmenting the wearable sensors market growth at present and in the near future. Cloud environments have helped in lowering the barriers for innovation and modernization of the Information technology systems and applications. Cloud computing provides a collaborative IT platform for facilitating information sharing, knowledge management and predictive analytics throughout the healthcare ecosystem, thus, enable cross-industry services. The growing focus on preventive healthcare will further allow the adoption of wearable technologies resulting in greater engagement with patients for providing better post-treatment care and community-based healthcare.

The versatility of polymers has led to designing of wearables in the form of smart textiles, smart watches, smart glasses, and wrist bands. Polymers in the form of gels, liquid crystal polymers, and elastomers have extended the functionality of wearable sensors into patch-like sensors or tattoo-like sensors. The first wearable sensor developed in 1980 was in the form of chest strap wireless electrocardiography. The product revealed the importance of flexibility in a wireless sensor and thus the use of flexible material like a polymer was considered significant, particularly as a substrate.


 Types of polymers along with their applications in wearable sensors are listed below:



Liquid Crystalline Polymers (LCP)

Used in the form of substrate when cooled to anisotropic solid.

Polymer Gels

An active material induced by chemical, thermal, electrical changes from the body or can be utilized as an electrode, for example, ionic gels.

Intrinsically Conducting Polymers

As an active material to be utilized as an electrode in an electrochemical sensor or as an organic semiconductor in transistor-based sensors.

Polymer Composites

Active material to be utilized as electrode or stimulus-response polymer in resistance-based sensors.

Piezoelectric Polymer

Used as active materials as pressure sensor like polyvinylidene fluoride, PVDF, and polylactic acid, PLA.


Used as active material like dielectric elastomers, and as substrate, for example, silicon rubber.

Thermoplastic Polymers

Used as a substrate

Thermosetting Polymers

Used as a substrate

Wearables in Sports Industry

Companies through their continuous innovation strategy have developed a number of sports wearables. These solutions are capable of converting raw data utilizing embedded algorithms that can be used for providing real-time information about an athlete’s parameters and thus contribute to enhancing performance. This information is highly useful in providing accurate instant feedback regarding posture, instant training load, and other essential information for training and optimization of performance. For example, a swim sensor by 2M Engineering for professional swimmers can provide ECG and motion recognition through monitoring heart rate and motion. The ECG signal forms the basis of the reliable heart rate and heart rate variability measurements while swimming. On the other hand, the motion sensor is utilized for the extraction of varied swim features such as stroke frequency, lap time, stroke type, and instantaneous speed. The real-time information can be sent to the coach on their smartphone devices. Hence, the trainer is provided with the performance overview of the swimmer.

The introduction of the world’s first smart earring by Ear-O-Smart, BioSensive Technologies Inc. Joule smart earring is designed especially for women for monitoring heart rate, activity tracker, and number of calories burned in a day. The wearable device is a unique combination of fashion and technology and utilizes a Bluetooth 4.0 wireless technology where the device syncs with the smartphone and allows the monitoring of a wide range of fitness data through Android and iOS applications. Such innovations are further contributing to fueling market growth.