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Navigating the continuous biosensing network map

Anshul Gupte, Research Associate & Lisheng Gao, Ph.D., Analyst
September 15, 2021

Biosensing is an integral part of the digital transformation of healthcare, especially as consumer wellness tools transition into health fields. These emerging sensor technologies offer continuous monitoring of various biomarkers and can be used in applications including vital signs monitoring, physiological health monitoring, and medical diagnosis. Our recent report on emerging biosensor technologies forecasted the market of biosensing devices for five health conditions. This insight aims to take one step further for a deep dive into the market landscape of various biosensing technologies. As the space matures, startups and large companies alike are leveraging different biosensors into their platforms. We visualize a network map of sensor technologies in the space to reveal the technological and competitive landscape of the market.

Network map

As shown below, companies are connected in a network through the sensor technology type. It should be noted that this map is not exhaustive but meant to visualize the biosensing market based on technological types. Through this lens, different groupings of sensing and strategies become evident.

Figure 1. Network map of companies utilizing continuous biosensing. The sensor types are in red, and company names in blue are mature players, while those in purple are startups in the space. The care domain for each company is added underneath its name.

Chemical sensing

Invasive sensing is dominated by mature players, while the biochemical noninvasive type is seeing more startup interest due to the low regulatory barriers to using these noninvasive sensing devices. This group primarily comprises nutrition/hydration sensing and glucose monitoring-enabled diabetes management. In the network map, a clear shift in interest toward noninvasive monitoring technologies can be seen from the influx of startups in the field.

Physical sensing

This group contains inertial measurement units (IMU), electrocardiograms (ECG), photoplethysmography (PPG), temperature sensors, and auditory sensors and is the most mature in terms of technology development. The care domains that largely comprise these sensors are cardiovascular, pulmonary, and sleep monitoring. In the network map, physical sensors are split between large corporations and startups, which is due to their long-standing availability and small form factors. This enables the consolidation of this group into wearable products like smartwatches.

Analytic platforms

This group shows the pathway to maturity as sensor technologies progress. Companies that offer analytical platforms have a close relationship to physical sensing types, which mostly comprise of corporations. The large amount of data that can be garnered through the accessibility of these sensors can be leveraged to derive new biomarkers and diagnostics.

Frontier sensing

This group includes electroencephalogram (EEG), ultra-wideband, spectroscopy, and other fringe sensor types. It is almost entirely dominated by startups and is in the process of getting corporate interest. As they are relatively new technologies, the group has the potential to be very beneficial in certain care domains, although it holds the most risk in terms of development compared to other biosensors. Sensors in this space can be specialized for certain applications but can become more diversified as they mature.

Through our analysis, we determined that consumer-centric models are a major determinant of corporate adoption of biosensors.

Sensor technologies usually start out as startups with specialized applications, generally in the clinical space; as the technology matures, they can become more versatile tools in terms of both form factor and biomarker identification, which appeals to large corporations that can consolidate them into platforms.

Lux Take

Physical sensing is the most mature technology in the continuous biomarker sensing space, in which players must develop novel or niche applications to minimize direct competition. Among care domains, cardiovascular vital sensing and sleep monitoring are overrepresented, while women's health and mental health are underrepresented. Clients interested in the space should monitor the biochemical noninvasive and frontier sensing being developed by startups, as they represent relatively new technologies and can be applied to a multitude of care domains, but note some of the challenges they currently face.

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