Prepare for a clash of IP cultures


Gary Johnson

Consumer-grade medical devices are growing in popularity across the developed world in response to lifestyle-related health problems and an increased demand for personal influence over medical decisions.

There is an epidemic raging in the industrialised world that is driving explosive growth in a multibillion-dollar segment of the consumer electronics market. This epidemic is poor health, caused by a sedentary lifestyle, overconsumption of convenience foods and an aging baby boomer generation. As a consequence, there is growing demand for consumer-grade medical devices— gadgets that enable the average person to monitor their own health and manage conditions such as diabetes and hypertension.

The medical devices sector represents the convergence of healthcare technology and electronics. Many traditional medical technology companies, including pharmaceutical firms, are making big investments in the sector in the hope of capitalising on the trend towards personal wellness and home-based self-care. Similarly, traditional semiconductor and consumer electronics giants are levering their technology to penetrate these markets.

For example, wireless technologies first developed for WAN (cellular), LAN (wifi) and PAN (Bluetooth) purposes are rapidly appearing in personal fitness and medical devices ranging from heart rate and vital signs monitors, to blood glucose meters and wireless stethoscopes.

Medicine, technology