We've been following the connected life lately, as we research the various forecasts for semiconductor and electronics growth in 2012, and seek to understand more about the details from within market verticals and how various components are trending from beyond our market view. Earlier this week, we looked at the "Internet of Things" and some of the ways that Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communication is driving and being driven by demands for improved connectivity and to leverage connectivity to improve daily routines, energy efficiency, and realize the goals of a Smart Home, Smart Grid and Smart, Connected Life.
M2M certainly goes beyond these smart connections and has been making significant advances for the growing market sector of eHeath (see our earlier Commentary discussion) which encompasses not only patient record sharing, but also remote patient monitoring, patient care, and implanted medical treatment (dispensing pharmaceuticals, remotely operating pace makers and implanted cardiac regulators, etc.), as well as significant reductions in levels of invasiveness during surgery, thanks to robotic and video assisted surgical tools (see these photos from Product Design & Development), as reviewed in MedicalXpress.
Certainly the last few years of eHealth growth have underscored the increased adoption rate furthered by more standards agreements (notably in the US FCC approval for Medical Body Area Networks (MBAN) for wearable sensor-based monitoring devices), increased access to rural populations (see this from NYTimes), patient and medical professional acceptance of and interest in innovative therapies and monitoring methods, not to mention the cost constraints (as discussed earlier this year by FT) that are also pushing remote health to the fore.
Beyond the above drivers are the advances in materials, especially sensors, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), flexible circuit technology, optics, and importantly also the reductions in costs with increased availability of these components due to economies of scale as demand for these components has diversified greatly, as we discussed in this week's related MarketWatch Commentary.
The increases in wearable devices, eHealth applications for tablets and smart wireless devices (SWD) (either dedicated medical, portables or patient owned SWDs), and the increase in medical robotic and video assisted surgical tools, are significantly growing the healthcare sector opportunities for revenue and volume numbers for the semiconductor and electronics industry. According to recent research from Wintergreen Research, as cited in EETimes Europe, dedicated tablets and software for "telemedicine" alone are forecasted to grow more than 300% by 2018, from 2011 levels of US $736 million to US $2.5 billion. eHealth not only provides solid diversification and growth, but exciting new applications and devices for semi components.