Last month, Fitbit unveiled its new smart watch, the Fitbit Iconic. The company plans to utilize the device’s new blood oxygen saturation sensors (relative SpO2) for sleep apnea diagnosis. For Fitbit, the new functionality in the Iconic is a natural progression from its previous work; but from a broader perspective, Fitbit’s recent innovation represents yet another data point of a bigger story: sleep is hot. Today, sleep has already become widely accepted as a primary pillar of wellness (even the Apple Health Kit will vouch for this), and sleep tracking has become ubiquitous in consumer wellness solutions; yet recently we’ve witnessed an uptick in innovation of sleep-specific solutions. Below, we use Lux’s Tech Signal to uncover spikes in interest in sleep innovation, which primarily took off in 2013:
Last week Lux hosted the Americas Lux Executive Summit (LES). Among discussions on the great energy transition, the digital transformation, and the materials-manufacturing nexus, Lux analysts and external speakers also explored the rise of consumer health and wellness. From non-GMO and organic food to activity tracking and “natural” ingredients, today’s consumers care about – and are willing to pay for – wellness. Some estimates put the wellness market at nearly $4 trillion, but it remains unclear if current solutions actually deliver on wellness claims to the consumer. Below, we highlight key themes discussed at LES that look to provide clarity on how developers should approach the wellness market: Continue reading
Many organizations today understand that the digital transformation will impact every aspect of their businesses: how they sell, operate – even how they acquire talent (see the September 1, 2016 Lux Quarterly). Some have also come to realize that digital technology can impact how organizations understand consumers, engage with them, and change their behavior. While digital tracking of everyday activities is common, like activity tracking, the ability to engage with and change consumer behavior in the long-term is more valuable, but more difficult. Even the biggest of players in the digital space have failed to crack the code for how to do this successfully. Fitbit, for example, had long been criticized for having a third of its consumer base abandon their devices after a few weeks. The inability to change consumer behavior is not without repercussions, either, as earlier this month, for example, Fitbit’s shares plummeted 30% following low Q3 earnings. Continue reading
We recently participated in the invitation-only industry introduction to San Francisco’s latest Smart City initiative – a bid to win part of a $40 million pot of money that the U.S. Department of Transportation has set aside for a few lucky conurbations around the country. San Francisco is one of seven city finalists along with Austin, Columbus, Denver, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, and Portland, and is looking to integrate commercial organizations of all sizes and stripes in a public-private partnership around the future of transportation. Among the speakers were Mayor Edwin M. Lee and the city’s Chief Innovation Officer, Jay Nath, who is part of the Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation. Addressing about 200 venture investors, entrepreneurs, and leaders from industry, they talked about the confluence of technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) and autonomous driving, with hardware, startups, social goals, and smart cities: Continue reading
Wearables for health fall into a wide range of technologies, functions, use cases and over-arching regulatory frameworks that developers and prospective entrants have to understand in order to effectively compete. Using an underlying taxonomy for human health, we establish a health-focused wearables taxonomy around three major categories – applications, use cases, and form factors – the three areas critical to understanding the current state of this emerging market. We examined the product specs of 224 wearable devices from 209 developers, limiting the analysis to devices that are either currently on the market or available for pre-order/crowdsource funding. Looking inside the quality and quantity of devices in the ecosystem presents a snapshot weighted toward what is faster to commercialize and drive adoption for today, but with plenty of space to target for longer term and far more valuable applications and markets.
The most notable segmentation looks at applications, comparing wearables activity in consumer health, clinical monitoring, and therapeutics devices. Consumer health applications relying on proven but feature-limited sensors currently receive the most attention, with nearly 2/3 of all devices targeting consumer health applications (63%). The reasons for this are both technical and structural. Many available devices do not conform to more stringent clinical accuracy requirements, leaving developers with limited options in more lucrative – but harder to develop – clinical markets. In addition, a large number of companies shy away from having to deal with regulators, choosing to stay in the unregulated consumer health markets.
Within the consumer space, more than half focus on tracking and training guidance needs of physically active users, a space where the name brands are well known and struggling to maintain any meaningful level of differentiation. Large, established players with specialized products such as Fitbit, Jawbone and Garmin are now facing increasing competition from multipurpose smartwatches from Samsung, Apple and Pebble. That said, a growing number of applications focus on monitoring everyday activities that have a direct impact on users’ well-being, such as nutrition and sleep quality. These less crowded spaces represent key pieces in the fully quantified self that will be needed for optimal health and wellness.
Despite the understandable focus on the consumer space, developers must position for the much larger future of clinical monitoring devices that will overtake the consumer space in market size within the coming decade. More sophisticated devices will enable this growth, and the smart consumer device manufacturers will have this goal in mind. Look for many athletic developers to move toward clinical applications as their product quality improves. Most athletic devices do not have the accuracy or reliability for clinical applications today, but improving technology, including sensors, will push them toward more lucrative clinical applications. One key class, in-vitro diagnostics technologies, are barely making a dent in the wearables market today, but are going to be the largest portion of the clinical mHealth ecosystem of the future. With the advances in sensors, microfluidics, and energy storage, expect many of the diagnostic tests to be implemented in the wearable form factors, allowing patients to be diagnosed outside of traditional care settings.
It is a perfectly fine strategy to follow the hype of consumer mHealth devices, but those who set and follow roadmaps for the long game will reap the rewards.