CEWeek NYC (Part 1): health tech moves to the front

CEWeek NYC, Metropolitan Pavilion/Altman Building (@CEWeekNY)

Part 1

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) stages events in New York twice yearly–at the start of both summer and winter, the latter as a preview of International CES in January. CEWeek NYC is a bit of an overstatement–it’s Tuesday-Thursday. It was apparent on today’s main day (Wednesday) visit that beyond the lead dogs of ever-larger HDTVs, in-car audio/smartphone integrators and marvelous audio speakers small and large, something else was different. Health tech was right behind them in prominence, including related areas of robotics and 3D printing. (This builds on CEA’s own trumpeting of the 40 percent growth of the ‘digital health footprint’ at this year’s CES. Hat tip to Jane Sarasohn-Kahn.)

Presentations got the Gordon Ramsay treatment and were re-plated as bite-sized sizzling steak tips. Also different was the format. Instead of a long, dozy general press briefing several flights up at the huge top of the Met Pavilion at 9am, then rushing to the show floors before the crush of buyers, the floors opened to press only for a generous two hours. Then fast-moving keynotes and conference presentations of no more than one hour started at 11am in an intimate downstairs room. Alternatively, the centrally located demo stage between the show floors hosted 15 minute presentations. Other than occasionally having to wait in a narrow hall as the downstairs room emptied between presentations, both were wise moves. Very workable and very low on the Tedium Scale. Three of the eight Wednesday presentations were robotics or health tech-related, not including the closing FashionWare wearable tech show. The proportion is the same on Thursday.

Notable on the show floor:

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/0625141011.jpg” thumb_width=”170″ /]The latest fitness band/watch is not a brick, mercifully. Withings formally debuts tomorrow the Activité watch (left) which looks like a fine Swiss analog chronometer, not a slab on the wrist. It’s a man’s watch size on a woman, a bit slimmer and simpler than a Breitling, and connects to your smartphone using the Withings HealthMate app to track activity, swimming and sleep monitoring. You also get time (analog, yes!) and alarm clock, all powered by a standard watch battery so none of the recharging shuffle. Available in the fall at $390, but if you are a dedicated QS-er with style…. Also VentureBeat. (more…)

Is consumer digital device engagement sticky? Or just the hype?

A wonderfully cranky essay by Laurie Orlov on her new blog Boomer Health Tech Watch might make you think The Gimlet Eye was her guest writer (see below). Ms Orlov observes the ratched-up noise level around wearables, fitness bands, smartwatches (in which your Editor will be drenched quadrophonically next Wednesday at CEWeek NYC, glutton for punishment as she is). Yes, we’re swooning around Apple Health [TTA 3 June] and having a minor swivet around Samsung’s Simband and SAMI [TTA 2 June]. The bucket of cold water in Ms Orlov’s grip is the high dropout rate among fitness band users (33-50 percent, cited from Endeavour Partners and NPD Group); this Editor will also add the devices’ relative inaccuracy, fragility and glitches [TTA 10 May]. But ‘the investor community (via the media) clearly IS being transformed, at least temporarily’ as well as outside the health industry, by a belief that these devices will push the world into Quantified Selfing for the Masses. Will wearables herald our arrival at the New Jerusalem of Health? Certainly it’s been trumpeted and tromboned by the D3H (Digital Health Hypester Horde) badly needing a fresh fave rave. But can digital health survive another Hype Curve dive? Can weThe Consumerization of Health Care — is it working?

Further in this jugular vein, Business Investor, in a superficial swipe, dubs smartwatches uncool just because they trail fitness bands by six points. They did a better job in March delving into the real challenges that wearables face: smartwatches look and feel like a brick on your wrist (Ed. D’s term), Google Glass is socially unacceptable in many quarters (banned in Silicon Valley!) and wearables are still in Early Adopter-Ville.

Update: Ms Orlov just sent to this Editor a brief comment with a link to a thoughtful NY Times article not only on The Trouble with Apple’s Health App, but also how the barriers are more subtle–and more common-sensical–than the hype around how consumers are eager to register every burp on a PHR (they’re not), they don’t want to be nagged by technology (easier than your mom to be rid of) and the group that needs it most (the old, poor) has the least, for now, access to it. But largely ignored by the D3H.

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/gimlet-eye.jpg” thumb_width=”75″ /]On assignment off Cape May, New Jersey inventorying readiness of coastal defense fortifications. Just between us. Shhhh!