Nearly 5 million disposable, wireless MBAN sensors to ship by 2018

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Over the next five years, close to five million disposable wireless Medical Body Area Network (MBAN) sensors will be shipped, according to new estimates from market intelligence company ABI Research. Although the market for disposable wireless MBAN sensors within professional healthcare is in its earliest stages, there is "tremendous potential" for adoption, concludes the New York-based research firm.

"Established medical devices providers GE Healthcare and Philips have already shown their interest in driving wireless MBAN adoption, supporting an FCC ruling setting aside spectrum in the United States for MBAN devices," the announcement from ABI Research reads.

In September 2012, the Federal Communications Commission posted its final rules for MBANs, which will consist of wearable monitors that send non-voice data to nearby hubs and will free patients from their hospital beds. The FCC is allocating 40 MHz of spectrum in the 2360-2400 MHz band for MBANs, with the 2360-2390 MHz band to be used indoors only, and the 2390-2400 MHz band to accommodate outdoor use.

MBAN sensors will enable patient monitoring information such as temperature to be collected automatically from a wearable thermometer sensor, thereby improving patient monitoring detail and freeing up nursing staff to concentrate on other aspects of care, according to ABI Research. In addition, by bringing the technology to disposable form factors, MBAN sensors will integrate well with the workflow of professional healthcare, the firm asserts.

"The market for disposable MBAN sensors will differ from the wider wearable wireless device market in its support for specific protocols," said Jonathan Collins, principal analyst at ABI Research, in a written statement. "Where Bluetooth Smart will dominate connectivity in the total wearable wireless device market, two competing approaches will be prominent in the disposable healthcare market over the next few years: proprietary and NFC."

ABI Research makes the case that the market "specifically lends itself to targeted, proprietary offerings from existing equipment suppliers with the relationships and proven track records with healthcare clients." Moreover, NFC offers "significantly lower sensor costs and standardized connectivity to smartphones and tablets," the firm argues. Nevertheless, NFC "does not offer the same levels of automated data collection as rival technologies such as Bluetooth Smart or proprietary short-range wireless," states ABI Research.

To learn more:
- read the announcement

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