Healthcare Technology Featured Article

August 06, 2015

A Strange New World for Biosensors Ahead

Ever use a screwdriver to open a paint can? Drive a nail with an adjustable wrench? While these are unconventional uses for such tools—and often not recommended uses at that—these are still uses. This is actually something like what's starting to be seen in the biosensor market, as big uses like the food and healthcare industries are rapidly discovering that other industries are getting in on the action as well.

A new report from Frost & Sullivan, titled “Analysis of the Global Biosensors Market”, details that the market was already pretty potent, offering revenue of $11.53 billion for just 2014. But all those unconventional uses getting into the field are going to have a hand in driving up the total size of the market, which by 2021, is projected to nearly triple, reaching $28.78 billion total. Naturally, food and healthcare—things like pathogen detection and the like—will have the lion's share of this market, but there will be some surprising new outriders like automotive tools, security systems and mobile systems as well.

Dr. Rajender Thusu, who serves as Frost & Sullivan's measurement and instrumentation industry principal, described a world in which “...strict food safety regulations...require the use of biosensors for compliance monitoring.” This is of course important for meat and milk, but increasingly, fresh fruits and vegetables are coming under such scrutiny, and that's going to improve the outlook for biosensors. Naturally, for healthcare, this makes particular sense as well, not only checking for pathogens—because no one wants a hospital room with lots of E. coli in it—but also potentially being turned on patients for drug screening and things like that.

All of this is perfectly rational, but it goes on from there. Consider how the security field might use biosensors, particularly at border crossings checking for drugs or even explosives, unobtrusively, without tipping off the prospective drug mule or explosives carrier that there's a check going on in the first place. There are also military applications, as the same biosensors that monitor a patient's health in the healthcare field can be used for soldiers in the field, monitoring the health and well-being of same. There's even room for biosensors in the automotive field; with biosensors in place, a car can tell if the driver is having some trouble with alertness or similar safety matters.

Indeed, there's a lot of room in such a market, assuming regular advancement. What about a door lock that responds directly to your touch, able to sense key biometrics about you—blood type and similar matters—and unlock when it's you in front of it? How about a car that won't start unless it's you in the driver's seat, as measured by key biological inputs? Or perhaps one that won't start if the system detects the presence of alcohol above a certain limit...or if the driver is sleepy. This is just the start, of course; a host of other applications could be developed around technology like this, and likely will be as the market goes forward.

With a host of companies launching development on this front, we'll likely see much more rapid development and all sorts of unconventional applications. Biosensors could be a huge industry, and with all this development going on, it's a safe bet that indeed it will be. 

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

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