Data, the key to wearable technology – Times of India

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Khalid Wani, Senior Director – Sales, India, Western Digital.
We are witnessing disruptive innovations in the world of wearable technology; it has taken off in areas that were once beyond our imagination such as AI in clothing. This, in turn, has started to make a massive impact on how we live and even work. However, receiving, using, and sharing data from wearable technology is core to this fundamental shift. The Indian wearable market is witnessing tremendous growth. In fact, it grew by 93.8% year-over-year (YoY) in 3Q21 (July-Sept), shipping 23.8 million units1, with smartwatches continuing to be the fastest-growing category with 4.3 million shipments in the same period. 
Wearable and Health 
Wearable technology has the potential to disrupt the healthcare industry. It is becoming an inherent part of our quotidian life- from fitness devices, which track our healthy habits and encourage us to achieve that set target of ten thousand steps per day, to more sophisticated AI-enabled devices that can even track previously undetectable diseases before they are clinically diagnosed. Wearable technology also enables personalized healthcare by real-time, continuous, and longitudinal health monitoring. As a result, healthcare practitioners are now beginning to adopt wearables for patient monitoring, which is handy for prediction, prevention, and timely intervention. Al-enabled wearable devices can monitor patients admitted to a hospital and measure their pulse, oxygen saturation, respiration, temperature, mobility, and other vitals.
With today’s pandemic, wearable technology can play an important  part in tracking the long-term impact on “long-haulers”- a term coined for people living with the post-COVID syndrome. While we are aware of the impact of Covid 19, its long-term impact on long-haulers with chronic symptoms is more complex to measure. By using wearable devices, their vital data can be tracked in real-time and analyzed. The data tracked from wearable devices provides a unique opportunity to learn more about a disease, its evolution and offer personalized healthcare services and real-time medicine to the patients. 
Data at the center 
Due to the proliferation of wearable technology or devices, data is collected at an unprecedented rate today – with an estimated 41.6 billion connected devices generating 79.4 zettabytes (ZB) of data in the year 20252. While wearable devices provide opportunities to improve healthcare in various settings, including rural areas and low-resource environments, robust data architecture is critical to properly capture, preserve, access, and transform this data in its journey, which is not just in cloud data centers but also at the edge, within servers, and endpoints. There is a need for high-capacity drives – now reaching 20TB –  to store massive amounts of data at the cloud. At the endpoints, where wearables generate data, the key is to reduce network latencies and increase throughput between these layers (cloud-to-edge, edge-to-endpoints). 
The Future 
As telehealth and remote healthcare continue to progress, data from wearable technology can create more personalized and proactive treatments. It can be transformed into daily, monthly, and yearly trends that identify opportunities to improve health habits using data-informed decisions. However, the storage strategy must be designed to meet specific requirements. A purpose-built architecture uses devices, platforms, systems, and solutions that maximize the value of data for real-time use cases. Taking advantage of the evolving wearable data landscape means moving from storage to value creation using purpose-built data architecture. From embedded to removable flash storage solutions, it is imperative that value from that data can be extracted at every step of the data journey. 
As technology continues to unlock new possibilities,  the future of healthcare can be redefined through continuous and long-term monitoring, data collection, and analysis– which can play an integral role in early detection and prevention.
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Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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