CES 2017 Overview

The 50th annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) kicked-off another new year with high expectations for the future of "smart" technology. Held in Las Vegas, Nevada, over 3,800 exhibiting companies showcased next-generation technologies in hardware, content, technology delivery systems and more. While most known for introducing the hottest gadgets and entertainment, CES has expanded its exhibitor floor over recent years to include health technology. Adam Jacobs, Chief Technology Officer, along with Sunrise engineers Hannah Bond, Megan Bredes, and David James were among the show's 175,000 attendees.

Q: What types of health technology were featured at this year's show?

Adam: Internet and App connectivity was a core feature of many product offerings, both medical and non-medical. This allows data collection or control of devices to enhance the User experience. Some of the med/health technologies that integrated IoT into their products included exercise devices, physiological measurement and wearable monitoring. Another hot area was Augmented Reality and hands-free device control through eye-tracking, which can have implications for information interaction and device control during healthcare delivery such as surgery.
David: The floor was filled with health and wellness tracking wearables. A few stand-out devices included a device which detects sleep apnea, numerous fitness wearables, and an FDA-approved wearable designed to prevent motion sickness.

Q: It's no surprise that wearables will continue to flood the consumer market -- what types of wearables do you foresee having the most traction?

Adam: I anticipate that wearables that are directly useful for management of chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and weight control will be adopted and continue to be used long term. These types of patients are highly motivated to achieve better health outcomes.
Hannah: A device that essentially tracks every aspect of your health. Apple's smartwatch is the closest consumer wearable to give users a complete snapshot of their health data (in coordination with the iPhone's Health App).

Q: What suggestion would you make to the exhibiting companies regarding their products?

Think about whether all the necessary parties are motivated long term to use the product. This includes the device company, physicians, patients, medical institutions, and sometimes payers.
Megan: Many of the companies with connected devices claim that the user's data can be sent directly to their physician. It's not a matter of if the data can make it, but whether or not the physician wants it.
Hannah: It's not uncommon for a physician not to accept 3rd party information (i.e.; data from a device not administered by the physician) about their patients, mainly because it's a liability issue. Plus, expecting a physician to monitor real-time data for their entire patient base is not a reasonable expectation.
David: There's also the issue of consumers misinterpreting health data derived from the device.

Q: What else stood out at CES?

Beside the normal consumer electronics, Virtual Reality, drones, IoT, and wireless charging were highly represented at the show.
Megan: Wireless charging -- it was everywhere. It won't be long until more medtech manufacturers are requesting it as part of their overall system.

Q: From an engineering perspective, why is it important to attend events like CES?

Working at a medical device development house, Sunrise engineers have to balance functionality with usability and form. Consumer trends inform the language that users interact with their technology, for example apps on cell phones or display technology. Reflecting this language makes it easier for clinical users to adopt a new technology without a steep learning curve or confusion. Additionally, there is a sophistication that device companies expect their product to reflect. CES is a great place to explore the latest thinking in product design
David: Learning about the latest and greatest technology trends. When it comes to product development, it's important to help clients understand current market needs and how to differentiate their idea from existing products.
Hannah: Miniaturization and battery management are big areas of concern as devices are becoming smaller, but expected to have the same level of functionality, if not better. Walking through CES, I was able to experience new types of battery technology like bendable lithium-ion batteries or a battery with foil-like material that can be rolled up.
Megan: You get to speak with other companies that experience similar challenges with device miniaturization and learn how they overcome them.