With the entertainment segment of consumer electronics likely to remain a high-volume, low-margin business, Philips views healthcare gadgets, as a market with great potential, said Rudy Provoost, chief executive officer of Philips' consumer electronics division, in a speech Saturday at the IFA electronics show in Berlin.

"Globally, the population of people 60 and older is growing by 2 percent per year, faster than the population as a whole," Provoost said, citing a United Nations report. "The most developed nations already have a higher proportion of 60-plus citizens than children up to the age of 15."

As part of its Connect Care product development project, Philips is working on a variety of "body-driven" consumer electronics products that could help improve people's health and well-being.

Future plans

Provoost showed a video of a woman with a small, white iPod-like device attached to her that was designed to monitor her health using a conductive skin response technology. The device, when placed near a special display, shows images of the woman's health status, making suggestions where corrections are needed and also sending alerts where emerging problems are detected. It can also be programmed to help the woman overcome sleeping problems.

And as part of its Lifestyle Home project, the company is using consumer electronics as a platform to connect diverse technologies, such as electronic paper, gesture-sensitive smart skin surfaces, algorithms that create ambient mood lighting, remote controls and contactless purchase systems for secure in-home payment.

Provoost made a pitch for "open innovation," calling on companies, universities and research institutes to combine knowledge, efforts and money to develop new consumer electronic products. A go-it-alone strategy in the 21st century, the Dutch CEO said, would be "outright suicidal."