I just did my annual check-up at the doctor’s office. I’m kind of bad about going, but I’m young and healthy, so it’s fine I don’t really go very often, right? 

Anyway, I showed up at my doctor’s office and the tech they were using made it seem like decades since my last visit. 

They had the iPad, stats on me from all sorts systems and every test I’ve taken since I was a baby — and they could even send it all to my iPhone. It was amazing, but it’s just the beginning. 

Connected worker 4.0 is changing so many industries, but its impact on healthcare is set to change the world. 

To learn more about how, I invited Wonjin Kim, Director of Digital Health Wearable Solutions & Partnerships at Samsung, onto the show today to pick his brain about wearables and health. 

And, after forgiving me for owning an iPhone, he shared a lot of the amazing ways Connected Worker 4.0 will be shaping health outcomes in the near future. 

Wearables are already changing healthcare

In recent years, consumers have already adopted wearable devices to monitor their health en masse, whether it’s a Samsung smartwatch, FitBit or even iPhone’s health app. 

And at Samsung, Wonjin is already seeing improved health outcomes the company’s wearable users are tapping into by accessing continuous data, insights and engagement at a personal level.

Back in the day, outside of very few dedicated medical devices worn on the body, health data was only really collected at manual intervals. So, healthcare professionals could only ever access a snapshot of the person at the moment the data was collected. 

But now, wearables provide continuous sensing in a non-intrusive way. This, of course, means a steady stream of data on that individual, which, combined with other sources of data, provides a holistic view of a patient’s wellness and health.

Of course, the tech is also pretty awesome, so people want to engage with it. And that is leading to better health outcomes already. 

The future of health

Samsung is currently focused on 3 main areas for wearables:

  • Overall wellness of the general population
  • Enabling virtual care
  • Enabling field workers across multiple industries

In the first of the two health-oriented goals, Samsung are working with health and life insurance companies, corporate wellness providers and lifestyle companies to provide wellness offerings. 

In the latter case, Samsung has partnered with Kaiser Permanente to enhance patient engagement and treatment outcomes. 

And emerging technologies also play a key role.

Rapid advancements in AI and cloud technology, as well as the rollout of 5G, means current limitations on wearables will be greatly reduced in the near future. 

The convergence of these technologies will accelerate the utility of wearables, with 5G lowering latency to practically zero and allowing greater implementation of cloud services.

All that to say, instead of having lots of applications running on your smartwatch, which is limited by its small battery and power-hungry processor, more work can be offloaded to the cloud. This will add more functionality and value to the consumer. 

Meanwhile, as AI and machine learning get ever more advanced, the marriage of software and hardware in future wearable devices will offer users personalized insights for their health. 

The biggest challenges facing the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Stepping back from healthcare specifically for a moment, there are a few obstacles that the industry needs to reckon with before Connected Worker 4.0 reaches its inevitable crescendo.

While IoT sensors are being implemented across factories, job sites and smart cities, the mountain of data they are streaming is mostly still centered on the performance of machines.

But what about tracking human performance? 

Most workers today are still using analog tools like two-way radios or even more antiquated technology like pen and paper. And this is the area where wearables are making a huge impact.

So, the challenge then becomes a kind of sensory overload — literally. There is a sensor for everything these days on the market. 

The Christmas tree problem

As one of Wonjin’s customers pointed out, workers are slowly becoming human Christmas trees with so many sensors ornamentally dangling. The very technology that promised to improve worker performance is starting to impede it. 

Samsung is working to address this problem through advancing multifunction technology to serve as a single dedicated sensor for the human worker.

Of course, the most important challenge for Samsung — as well as its customers and their employees — is still figuring out exactly how to design sensors people actually want to wear. 

This post is based on a TechTables podcast with Wonjin Kim. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to TechTables here.

PS: You can also email me at joe@techtablespodcast.com for anything related to the podcast and joe.toste@nagarro.com if you are interested in learning more about Nagarro and our philosophy on #thinkingbreakthroughs. 

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