Patches are no longer just for nicotine.
Health-tracking sensors that stick to the skin are catching on and can measure more variables than wrist-worn health gadgets like Fitbits. These smart patches continuously scan the body and send data to a smartphone app that alerts people when there's a warning sign. As more consumers collect data on their own health, these patches might also help transform health care, say some experts, by helping prevent chronic diseases, like diabetes or heart disease.
"This is an evolutionary technology," said Kate McCarthy, a senior analyst at Forrester Research. She said the potential patch market is huge. Since patches are worn all the time, unlike wrist gadgets, patches spew data continuously. Patches are also relatively inexpensive — costing a few hundred dollars. "There doesn't need to be a big commitment of time and money," she said.