Amazon recently announced Amazon Go, aiming to transform the ages-old brick-and-mortar retail experience. The official news broke via multiple channels, including a well-produced YouTube video showing shoppers entering a stylish grocery store. Central to the concept is the absence of any physical checkout system; shoppers check in upon arrival, and browse as they normally would. Amazon says it uses a combination of computer vision, machine learning, and artificial intelligence (AI) to track users and items throughout the store. When a shopper picks a product, this array of in-store sensors and back-end analytics automatically tabulate the final bill (deducting it from their Amazon account, of course), allowing shoppers to be on their way − “Just walk out technology.” According to initial reports, Amazon has actually built a 1,800 ft2 test site in one of its Seattle buildings. While today it is only open to Amazon employees, it says it may allow the public to shop in “early 2017.” To put the store’s scope in perspective, it is the size of a modest home, whereas most of the U.S.’s 38,000 supermarkets are 50,000 ft2 or more – more than 25 times the size of Amazon’s store. Continue reading
Lux Research recently participated in the mHealth Summit 2014 – the largest mHealth conference in the world this year. Mingling with several thousand attendees coming from all corners of the world and representing industries as diverse as healthcare, consumer electronics, telecommunications, and athletic apparel provided us with a chance to understand the direction the industry is taking as it approaches a point of mass adoption.
The main stage, featuring power players such as Qualcomm’s President Derek Aberle, Pfizer’s Vice President of Worldwide Innovation Wendy Mayer, Samsung’s Chief Medical Officer & VP of Global Healthcare David Rhew, Kaiser Permanente’s Senior Vice President of Marketing & Internet Services Christine Paige, IBM’s Director of Health Industry Transformation Harry Reynolds, and Walgreens’ Chief Medical Officer & Group Vice President Harry Leider, among others, offered a diverse view on the industry trends from the points of view of some of the largest organizations actively working in the mHealth space. Although the approaches to the topic at hand differed widely depending on the speaker’s backgrounds and current affiliations, a common topic covered by all of them was the question: “What can industry do to enable mass adoption, especially in the consumer market?”
One of the key messages – shared by most of the speakers and attendees – was the importance of simplifying the use of consumer mHealth devices to the point of seamless integration into everyday life. A key feature for future devices will be to enable measurements, data collection and information dissemination that will require no (or minimal) user action. The argument continued that every time an additional step requiring user’s input is introduced, the chance that the user will abandon the device grows significantly.
Multiple examples supporting this view were presented for both, pure consumer devices and for clinical devices intended for home use by patients, alike. Qualcomm’s Derek Aberle shared several findings from a study that looked into the reasons why 2/3 of activity trackers’ users abandon their devices within a couple of months of purchasing them. The numbers showed that most of them got tired of having to remember to regularly interact with their gadgets – interactions such as turning the device on/off, initiating data transfers, charging the batteries on a daily bases, etc. When asked what would have encouraged them to continue using their trackers, more than 80% of respondents indicated that having a device that they would turn on and forget about for weeks, if not months, on end would drastically change their view of the device’s utility.
Joseph Kvedar, Director of the Center for Connected Health at Partners Healthcare, talked about the market adoption challenges from the “engagement gap” perspective. He shared data from a pilot program Partners Healthcare ran in 2011, where the patients suffering from hypertension were given blood pressure monitors connected with the centralized database. They were instructed to upload their measurements daily. Final results showed that the long-term participation was significantly higher (more than 30%) in the control group whose devices automatically uploaded the measurements than in the group of patients whose devices required a single press on the button to transmit the data.
Looking at the experiences from other industries, such as consumer electronics and telecommunications, that rely on a mass adoption by consumers to provide a sizeable ROI, these findings do not represent a surprise. Consumer preferences need to be well understood to maximize the chance of success, and the ease of use and seamless integration into a person’s lifestyle are on the top of the list. Somewhat surprisingly, this seems to be the case even for people whose health may depend on regularly using their monitors – as in the case of diabetics and patients with hypertension. While their #1 priority is the ability of the device to accurately measure the biomarker of interest, having this done in as unobtrusive fashion as possible still ranks high on their wish lists.
Clients interested in the mHealth and broader point-of-care spaces, should pay a close attention to the way their devices will be used and perceived by the end users. The importance of the esthetics and ergonomics is increasing. Adding the industrial design expertise to the design teams seems like a logical step, especially if the final product is intended to be used on a continuous basis in home or office settings.