are wearables at an inflection pointWearable devices that can tell you such things as how many steps you’ve taken in a day, or what your heart rate is have become fairly common. There are many devices out there, and consumers have embraced them.

But most of these devices are limited in what they can do. For many people who try them, the novelty soon wears off and they find their way off the body and onto the shelf or into the drawer.

Are wearable devices poised to become more than simple fitness aids? Are they going to be able to be employed in a wider range of functions that have an impact on a person’s whole health? There are several things that suggest that might be the case.

One factor is that sensors and sensing technologies are becoming more advanced. Accelerated by the advent of the “internet of things” (IoT), there is economic opportunity for companies to develop accurate and inexpensive sensors of many different types. Because of that incentive, sensor use will proliferate and technologies will continue to advance.

The other factor that could catapult wearable health devices to greater significance is that of the burgeoning field of data analytics. Many advances in a variety of medical areas have come about because of sophisticated computer algorithms that not only analyze gathered data, but filter and enhance it.

Inexpensive, accurate, robust sensors along with data analytics technologies could be the combination that enables a whole new class of wearable devices that advance medicine and improve health.