Everyone’s gushing about adding context to the data that our wearables produce. Shiny new start-up websites talk up the advanced data insight and how they’re going to find correlations in your data that tell you things that you never knew about how you live your life.
Health data context and data insight is an engineers view of how to make data useful.
Tell your average 35 year old man that he’s 44% more likely to sleep less when he has two or more coffees during the day and a month later you’ll have zero habitual change.
Turn that data into a goal, or a challenge delivered just at the right place and time (perhaps at the time that data reveals that you most commonly have coffee number 2) and you’ve got a decent chance at influencing a positive change.
While you’ve got engineers trying to solve health & fitness problems, we’re going to have largely ineffectual wearables and health apps…
2012 brought a new product category to the market and saw many acquisitions from wearable manufacturers looking to get the edge in a hotly contested space but 2013 has undoubtably been the breakout year for wearables and quantified self hitting the mainstream.
Back in June I started studying the space pretty seriously. I made a few observations and ended up co-founding my own health & fitness app that went on to amass 30,000 downloads as we tested the market (visit BodyWise).
Back when we launched BodyWise, there wasn’t much in the way of being able to track beyond your distance, steps or sleep. We brought tracking of a wide variety of health & fitness metrics to the everyday person. Since our launch I could name half a dozen serious competitors playing on our level and another half a dozen wearables that brought our features to their apps and devices.
As we develop BodyWise v2 I wanted to share with you my summary of the state of play for Wearables & the Quantified Self in 2014:
Fitbit hedging their bets
FitBit quietly released version 2.1 of their mobile app late this month. The big move? They brought health & fitness tracking to the app via your phone without needing one of their devices at all.
They (like most of us) aren’t sure how wearables are going to play out. It looks like Apple is going to introduce something that busts open the category in 2014 and that could mean the end of wearables themselves.
It doesn’t make sense to have a completely separate device to track what is easily obtained information. They’re concerned that their devices may be made obsolete so they’re hedging their bets by opening their app to work with whatever Apple introduces next.
Data-based training is everywhere
It’s not just us focusing on data-based training. Jawbone pushed hard last year to acquire top talent in the health & fitness data space and 2013 saw them introduce insights. They’re missing a few pieces of the puzzle here but they’ve got a basic set of data and create strong insight and data visualisation from it.
If they had an app that made it easier to log workouts, nutrition and other wellbeing stats, they would be leading the pack by a country mile.
We saw FitBit make a serious play into this space in 2013 with the quiet launch of FitBit Premium, a $59.95 digital personal trainer, nutritionist and sleep consultant in one. It brings strong data-analysis and training based off your statistics and performance to the market. I can’t see FitBit not making this a core area of their app rather than an add-on service in the next 12 months.
Everything is connected
In 2013 many wearables opened their API’s, as did nutritional and wellness apps. We’ll continue to see this in 2013 as we edge towards a completely open marketplace.
I’m not 100% sure that this is the way to go as it discourages smart companies working on partnerships that make complete sense and are well integrated in favour of spending their development resources on connecting with a broad range of services.
While it may mean a small improvement, the best products will come as a result of tight partnerships between app developers and wearable manufacturers.
Whatever way you look at it, 2014 is going to be another HUGE year for wearables and Quantified Self apps. I can’t wait to bring BodyWise v2 to the market and see what other developers have in store for us.