A Gimlety look at fitness trackers and startup bloviation

click to enlargeIt must be summer and The Gimlet Eye is looking for amusement and diversion. In a Real World of shotdown passenger aircraft and Middle East war, even Neil Versel in Meaningful HIT News is opting for the lighter side. He draws our attention to the humor of Steven Colbert on the subject “The Golden Era of Digital Toys”. Instead of actually running a marathon, simulate it with your Fitbit by mounting it to a paint shaker. But beyond these yuks, Mr Colbert aptly points to the vaporous language used by every DH3-er (Digital Health Hypester Horde) to promote their ‘revolutionary’ device.

click to enlargeCase in point: Vessyl, a cup that reads out what you are drinking down to the brand, flavor and calorie count and tosses the information to an app on your smartphone. (Of course, you could read the container, but that would be soooo uncool.) Colbert uses Vessyl to skewer Healthcare Startup Bloviation. There’s the Founder with red oblong glasses on ‘tracking real time hydration’. Then another principal, of whom The Gimlet Eye notes must be so dedicated that has no time to shave, tweeze his eyebrows, comb his hair or put on a clean shirt for the promo video, uttering their mission statement like Moses Bringing Down The Tablets from Sinai: ‘we help people make healthier and more informed decisions in real time.’ The final reductio ad absurdum is the creative director whispering in awe on its seven years of intensive design work. For a drink cup. Retail $200 if it meets its early 2015 ship date. Raising $50,000 via MarkOne’s oh-so-hip ‘n’ cool glossy demo website. With the requisite hipsters (none over 25) livin’ large in San Francisco’s glam settings, of course clutching their Vessyl.

This is what gets funded? As in the proverb, has the mountain labored to bring forth a mouse? Mr Colbert’s device in counterpoint is brilliant. It should be funded shortly. Colbert Video.

Additional breathless D3H coverage: VentureBeat. CNet traces its ties to the Jawbone UP designer. (Editor Donna note: the cup readout on brands and accuracy re sugar and caffeine does sound a bit too good to be true. Let’s see if it’s for real in 2015.)

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