The rise of Femtech and gadgets tackling periods, fertility, and pregnancy
Women’s health technology (or the so-called femtech market) is been on the rise. Here we take a dive into this burgeoning industry with our first roundup of Femtech gadgets.
Digital hacks for switching off period pain and mobile apps designed to increase an individual’s chances of getting pregnant are arriving thick and fast thanks to a new wave of technology for women — Femtech gadgets.
It’s a catchy term, coined a few years ago by Ida Tin, founder of the period-tracking app Clue. It refers to technology for improving the health and wellbeing of women and includes things like sex toys, telemedicine platforms, tampon alternatives, and birth control apps.
It’s a hugely relevant and necessary area of an industry that’s finally receiving the recognition it deserves, if not in part because of recent awareness of the persistent disparities between men and women across several sectors.
Currently, the femtech market shows exponential growth, projected to reach an impressive $60.01 billion by 2027 from $18.75 billion in 2019, according to a recent report by Emergen Research.
Beyond the examples already mentioned, Femtech includes solutions to menstruation cramps, incontinence, breastfeeding, vaginal dryness, orgasms, and menopausal symptoms.
It appears after centuries of silence and shame, women are obliterating any notion of taboo, and we are here for it. To first explore this burgeoning industry, we thought we’d take a look at a particular area that seems to be garnering particular attention from designers and femtech start-ups: pregnancy.
From fertility trackers to monitors specially designed to analyse a baby’s health, the birth of a baby provides endless opportunities for tech-driven solutions to everyday challenges and general curiosities.
Here is a list of some of those innovative FemTech gadgets:
Ava Fertility Tracker
Some experts are unsure whether the algorithms inside Ava are worth the cost but nevertheless, you can’t deny the futuristic feat of this product. Pairing a smart wearable bracelet and a mobile application, Ava cuts out the hassle associated with manually charting basal body temperature (BBT), a method hard to track ovulation.
As well as tracking temperature through the wrist it measures four other physiological signs of fertility – heart rate, heart rate variability, skin perfusion and respiratory rate. Using artificial intelligence (AI), the bracelet corroborates these measurements to give the wearer a prediction of their fertile window.
[ Read also Switch off period pain with the WIM wearable heating pad ]
Roo Prenatal Heartbeat Monitor
The use of technology during pregnancy is nothing new—just look at baby scans, but recently, gadgets to connect with babies have been on the rise. Adding to that list is the Roo Prenatal Heartbeat Monitor, a non-invasive way to listen to an unborn baby’s heartbeat during the third trimester.
Roo has designed the gadget with a very compact form, making it easily portable and effortless for someone who is heavily pregnant to use. The device pairs with Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant to play the baby’s heartbeat, then it records the data so you can go back and track the heartbeats.
Simply search across the stomach (like a traditional ultrasound) until you can hear a heartbeat—at this point, you might consider the dangers of using this device and why heartbeat monitoring might be better left to professionals in a controlled environment.
Bloomlife Contraction Monitor
The team at Bloomlife has created a simple-to-use device that monitors contractions. It combines an adhesive patch with a rechargeable sensor: worn on a pregnant belly, it displays statistics on a companion app about the duration and frequency of contractions.
The monitor was created to empower those expecting outside the hospital. Bloomlife says the monitor is ideal for at-home use during the last 6-8 weeks of pregnancy when tracking and counting contractions can be most useful.
The person expecting simply sticks the sensor to their belly whilst sitting in a comfortable and reclined position (contractions must be monitored while the wearer is reclining, and for at least one hour at a time).
Elvie Smart Breastfeeding Pump
Marketed as the “world’s first silent breast pump”, Elvie is a wireless and portable breast pump designed to free parents from the shackles of expressing breast milk. Small and lightweight, the Elvie Pump is worn inside a standard nursing bra making it hands-free. Meanwhile, revolutionary technology inside eliminates noise.
The tech transformation of traditional ways to express breast milk doesn’t stop there. Users can connect to the Elvie Pump app to monitor milk volume in real-time, track pumping history for each breast and control the pump remotely.
Owlet Baby Health Monitor
Concealed inside a cute piece of baby clothing, the Owlet Smart Sock is a smart device that wraps comfortably around your baby’s foot and uses clinically proven pulse oximetry to track heart rate, oxygen levels, and sleep through infrared light (similar to how an Apple Watch works).
Convenient and easy-to-use, each unit includes 3 washable socks that connect to a base station up to 30m (100ft) away using Bluetooth. The base station glows green to signal everything is okay and notifies with lights and sound if something appears to be wrong.
As with all these pregnancy and baby gadgets, there is an accompanying app where users can receive notifications and stream real-time heart rate and oxygen levels on their mobile phones.
[ Read also Sukha breaks down barriers to cervical screening ]