Wearable devices, Health apps, what’s next?

Natural Sculpture

Wearable devices such as FitBit, Nike’s Fuel Band, Jawbone Up, Body Media Fit and the upcoming Amiigo (just to mention few among the very many), are being hailed as revolutionary tools to put people in charge of their health and fitness. These devices capture and provide insightful data like heart rate, calories burned, stress level, sleep, exercise and even eating patterns. Together with smart phones and GPS devices they also feed another layer of cool apps like Strava, Runtastic, Mapmyfitness and many more (over 10,000 Health and Fitness apps exist on Apple store alone) that add a social-network motivational component to the user experience. Other apps like Myfitnesspal help users track the food they eat and their calorie intake. Gympact, Everymove and such offer external incentives to reward personal healthy choices.

From a user perspective, all of the above is accessible with $ 80–200 for the hardware and $0 for software, unless they opt for a premium service. This is definitely a breakthrough moment when technology is dramatically lowering the barriers to capturing and accessing information on our health and fitness habits.

There’s very little doubt that adoption will increase. The Health & Fitness Club Industry is already feeling the impact of this “democratization of health and fitness.” I will tackle this issue/opportunity in a separate piece.

The questions I have for you are the following:

• Are the two layers of hardware and software summarily described above enough to motivate people to really change their behaviors?

• Is another layer of service needed to make sure there’s a real motivation to behavioral change that can be sustained over time and be conducive to tangible results in the form of a better lifestyle, including fitness, health and stress management?

To get the conversation going, I offer the first reply to those two questions:

Wearable devices and apps are a great start toward the democratization of health and fitness and the empowerment of end users, but they are not nearly enough to sustain behavioral change.

Another layer of service is needed. It must be scalable (technology engine) and have a human face/voice. In essence a Multi-Sided Platform that can effectively harness the more and more cheaply and widely available health and fitness information to establish a secure, effective, convenient, high-quality connection between the owners of the data and the Fitness Trainers, Lifestyle Coaches, Meditation/Stress reduction teachers, and Nutritionists that are out there scrambling to make this revolution work for them, on both sides of the equation.

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