Jawbone still in business–with Fitbit in court

While most industry observers are perceiving Jawbone’s abandoning the consumer fitness tracker market, repositioning into the clinical B2B2C vitals market, and seeking fresh financing as a last-ditch effort to save the company, Jawbone continues to be highly active in one place–court. Last week, Jawbone filed a lawsuit against Fitbit and five former employees in California state court for theft of trade secrets and has rebutted Fitbit’s motion to dismiss in a 27-page filing. According to Fortune’s account of the lawsuit, Jawbone’s filing states: “Each of the defendants has been, for more than five months, the subject of a criminal grand jury investigation regarding theft of Jawbone’s trade secrets that is being conducted by the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security,” a charge that Fitbit calls ‘fictional’ and false. The court hearing in San Francisco is 15 February.

The legal skirmishing, which largely has gone Fitbit’s way [TTA 27 July] in the US International Trade Commission, indicates that Jawbone is still spending money to protect what is left of value in the company–its patents and intellectual property (whatever hasn’t been voided). Jawbone $100 million ‘gem’: the BodyMedia patents acquired in 2013 [TTA 30 Apr 13]. BodyMedia had FDA Class II clearance but a clunky form factor. This IP is a critical save if they want to go clinical. Fitbit’s shares continue to go down, an indicator that the mud is rising. Also Bloomberg with video.

The rich store of information in…human sweat

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/sweat-sensor-wristband450.jpg” thumb_width=”200″ /]’Don’t sweat it’ may in future be the wrong thing to say. University of California-Berkeley researchers have developed a prototype sensor array on a band that successfully captures readings of multiple sweat analytes and sends the information to a smartphone app for analysis, making it the first device capable of continuous, non-invasive monitoring of multiple biochemicals in perspiration. The five sensors measure metabolites glucose and lactate, the electrolytes sodium and potassium, and skin temperature, which serves to calibrate the other readings in real time. The device (left), which can be in a wristband or headband form, also contains a flexible printed circuit board that amplifies the sensor signals and sends them to the smartphone app. The Berkeley researchers look forward to commercializing the technology to capture more analyte readings, for athletic performance, medical and fitness tracking usage–and in the longer-term, population-level studies for medical applications. We wonder how long it will be before these show up in a new model Misfit, Jawbone or Fitbit. Berkeley News   Hat tip to former TTA Ireland Editor Toni Bunting

Two-thirds of US insured not interested in payer health apps: survey

A survey of over 1,200 insured (individual and employer plans) sponsored by research firm HealthMine and conducted by Survey Sampling International shows that only 30 percent of this group would participate in a payer-provided mobile app, despite 89 percent using a smartphone and/or tablet. Even worse, only 18 percent liked to learn health, wellness, and lifestyle information from a mobile app. It demonstrates that current apps are not compelling or engaging–and the huge paradox of payers make them less, not more, attractive. Perhaps this Editor goes out on a limb, but US insurers have a trust problem on multiple levels (as claim deniers, as impossible to deal with); apps they provide are perceived as capturing information an individual doesn’t really want them to see. Overall, users are not using their smartphones for health reference at all–well below 20 percent. The leading use is for tracking fitness (21 percent) and calorie counting (16 percent). Is it that real research on health is the province of the desktop PC, where it’s easier to find and read? They also aren’t using mobile to find their doctors, despite all the hype from ZocDoc and Vitals: 8 percent had used a doctor finder app in the past six months. Mobihealthnews, HealthITOutcomes

Fitbit accurate in measuring energy expenditure: AHA presentation

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/acitivity-trackers_wellocracy_chealth-blog-kvedar.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]The current judgment on commercial fitness monitors is that they are worthwhile directionally, but accurate–not so much [TTA 10 May 14]. This may be changing, albeit on a specific, non-clinical measurement. A Columbia University Medical Center (New York, NY) team tested the Fitbit One and Fitbit Flex for tracking energy expenditure during treadmill walking and running exercise, versus energy expenditure assessed by indirect calorimetry, and found themto be valid and reliable devices. Correlation between measurements was 0.95 – 0.97. These devices were interestingly placed on wrists and hips; perhaps a user can enlighten me.  Poster presentation/Abstract MP11 published in the American Heart Association’s journal, Circulation.

Yesterday’s Apple intros and implications for health monitoring

A knockout or a catch up? Now that the Hype Dust is settling (along with Apple’s stock price), let’s take a look at what we know today about the new, larger iPhones and the Apple Watch regarding health monitoring.

Where it was a catch up:

  • Size and screen in phones. Apple got the message: squinting at tiny type and swiping to enlarge is rapidly becoming yesterday’s pain. As smartphones and larger screens knocked out the Blackberry, Samsung led the way in sizing up and higher resolution–and others followed suit. The awful fact is that the smartphone market is aging, both in users and who’s left in the market to grow it, and we want to see, not squint.
  • [grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/apple-watch-beauty-shot.png” thumb_width=”150″ /]Finally (drum roll), a sleeker smartwatch with fitness tracking, out sometime next year–and not just a sports model. The basic model is a rubbery Sport watch, the mid-line has a sapphire crystal, stainless steel case and (proprietary) swappable bands. The beauty is the upmarket version in gold with a leather band (left, courtesy re/Code).
    • Here Apple is up against multiple in-market competition from Fitbit to Moto to Withings to Samsung Gear–whose pricing is well below the starter Apple Watch at $349 in the $200 and below range.
    • The Apple Watch looks seriously great, distinctively thinner and it’ll be a prestige item. But does it track more and better? No. According to reports (updated today) this is what it has: heart rate monitor, pulse, daily activity for which you need the phone. No sleep monitoring. It also has to be charged every night. There may be other features from developers, but they are under wraps for now and will likely require phone tethering. (re/Code) It’s not a comprehensive lifestyle watch–yet.

Where it could be a knockout in healthcare:

  • Finally, a compelling reason for health care providers to ditch the old iPhone and not go Android. Healthcare providers in the US are heavily wedded to iOS: (more…)

Fashion Week’s fickle fitness favorites

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Misfit-shine-wearable.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Last September during NYC Fashion Week, the must-have fashionista accessory for the wrist was a Jawbone, in hard-to-get colors like aqua [TTA 17 Nov 13]. This year, Misfit Shine hit the runways with a vengeance (so to speak) with some…er, interesting…wearables with hard-core appeal. Courtesy of Chromat, it was incorporated into this interestingly air-conditioned evening look. We doubt we’ll see it at Connected Health Symposium in Boston at the end of October…but maybe at CES Unveiled on 11 November in New York.

But Jawbone is the one that’s scoring big funding–they’ve ‘jawboned’ another $100 million, the same amount they received in financing last year at this time. It’s a chunk of the $250 million they were raising earlier this year. According to Re/Code, new investors include Rizvi Traverse Management. The round puts the company valuation north of $3.3 billion. Like Misfit, it is also opening up its UP software API to be used by developers on other smartphones, watches and wearables.

Swoon or mourn? Smartwatch action: Misfit, MS HealthVault, Glance

The smartwatch is nowhere near dead (check the beautiful Withings Activité at CEWeek), but its future, along with pure fitness bands, is a complicated thing. Three moves by small to giant companies further add color to (or complicate) the picture, including an ‘aftermarket’ add on for your current watch:

  • Misfit joins up with the Pebble smartwatch. The Misfit Shine, which has enjoyed much appreciation by the D3H as the ‘elegant button’, announced it will distribute its tracking app and algorithm technology to smartwatch makers. Pebble is the first and not exclusive. Sonny Vu, not known for his subtlety, is quoted in VentureBeat: “If I kept making just fitness trackers, I would be out of business in 12 to 18 months.” Misfit will continue to sell Shine in the US and internationally for at least another few quarters to meet demand for a fitness-only tracker. It shows you how quickly the weather changes: with $23 million in hand, and a Series B last December of $15.2 million, they are pivoting–quickly. John Sculley and other bluechip investors like Khosla Ventures and Norwest Capital obviously see a boulder in the road.
  • Microsoft moving to get into the smartwatch biz. Their patent filing of 2012 was just the first move but both Forbes and VentureBeat have confirmed rumors the device is a go. And they have a core of techies (Xbox) to work on it and the perfect place for the data: Microsoft HealthVault. Nothing like a smartwatch to jolt some life into a moribund PHR!
  • Love your plain old watch but just want to soup it up? Slip Kiwi Wearables’ Glance under your watch instead and get fitness tracking plus smartwatch functions. Kiwi already has the app for the Kiwi Move but Glance seems to have more such as interaction with your phone calls. Think of it as an aftermarket accessory, especially if you’re a traditionalist in watch form factor and/or don’t have the long green for Withings. In Kickstarter funding now with a price point of $65, but they are less than halfway towards their $150,000 goal with only six days to go. Gizmag

The Quantified Selfer’s Christmas form letter

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/gimlet-eye.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]  APPROVED by The Gimlet Eye, on assignment directing Air Traffic Control for Mr. Claus.

Dear ______,

I can see from my ______ wrist device that it’s once again time for my annual Christmas letter to update you on a number of personal facts about the past year! Lucky for you, I’ve been able to view my daily data on a variety of self-tracking devices using interactive graphs to spot trends and patterns so far.  The year raced off to a great start because I got a new ______ from Santa last Christmas. (Continued…)

Our final pre-Christmas post is from the ‘♥ Sister’ herself, Carolyn Thomas, who has written this most witty communication that you may well receive from your favorite (?) Quantified Selfer. If not, reading this you will be forearmed at holiday tables and gatherings. You will view your QS nephew or friend in a new, more tolerant light. Wearing their Google Glass, tracking the cookies and egg nog on their Fitbit or Jawbone UP, passing around the Misfit Shine, obsessing on what workout will most efficiently balance the caloric intake…. To the rescue? Spot the Dog. Fitbit, Jawbone and Shine make great chew toys, and Glass…will Spot get to it before the video hits the cloud?

We wish all of our readers a marvelous Christmas Holiday, Festive Season and Happy New Year! (and thank Carolyn for the reference!–Ed. Donna)

Wellocracy launched to explain fitness tracking, apps

Partners HealthCare’s Center for Connected Health has launched Wellocracy, to explain to consumers how you can get the most out of their fitness trackers, health apps and related devices. It won’t be a ‘Consumer Reports’ of devices or apps (though provides a comparison chart), ‘curate’ them as the now seemingly dormant Happtique once intended to do or screech at you on your ‘issues’ as Cigna’s Go You does, but offers sensible advice on how to get the most out of the kit you just bought and the information it provides. Also it addresses the ‘stickiness factor’–staying with a regimen–connects to outside news and adds a large dollop of social engagement with sharing ‘The New Fit Revolution.’ Coincidentally, The Center’s Joseph Kvedar, M.D. just co-authored a book, Wellocracy: Move to a Great Body, with Carol Colman and Justin Mager, MD. Release includes a useful Harris Interactive survey that indicates that fitness and sleep tracking are seen favorably and perceived as valuable but is still large on potential, short on customers.

Telehealth Soapbox: Medical device tax finally under fire; implications many (US)

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/gizmodo-the-top-10-rube-goldberg-machines-featured-on-film-rube-goldberg.jpg” thumb_width=”180″ /]A key part of the Rube Goldberg (or Heath Robinson)-esque funding of the Accountable Care Act (ACA, a/k/a Obamacare) is a punitive medical device tax of 2.3 percent levied on gross sales (not profits) of hip, knee, cardiac implants, many dental materials, diagnostics such as scanners, radiotherapy machines, catheters and more. Since it went into effect on 1 January, it has raised $1 billion according to the Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance, the Advanced Medical Technology Association and the Medical Device Manufacturers Association in July–for a program that does not start till 2014. According to The Hill, senior Senators Orrin Hatch, Barrasso and Hoeven are pushing for a repeal amendment to be attached to the stopgap spending bill. The reasons why the tax deserves to be tossed out on its ear are: (more…)

Samsung Galaxy S4’s S Health: fitness tracker disruptor?

The much-heralded second quarter intro of the Samsung Galaxy S4 mobile phone is, according to multiple reviewers, a sustaining innovation (improvement). But embedded in it is a disruptive innovation to the fitness app sector dominated by Fitbit, Jawbone Up, Nike FuelBand and a raft of low-cost/free tracking apps.  It’s S Health, which according to Gizmodo’s incredibly detailed review monitors key activities and sleep (Editor emphasis):

Holy crap, Samsung put a health tracker in its phone! Which is actually a great idea. S Health is an app that will track your steps, stairs climbed, and the ambient temperature and humidity, plus track your food intake and estimate calories consumed/burned. You can even track sleep with an optional accessory (see below). Fitbit and co. should be nervous, although I’m curious to see what kind of ding this puts on your battery life.

and

There are also a bevy of accessories that complement the S Health app. There’s a wristband you can wear independently of the phone (in case you prefer running without it), which will track your steps and monitor the quality of your sleep. It will then sync wirelessly with the app. There’s also a connected scale and heart rate monitor. Again, this isn’t good news for smaller fitness tracking companies.

The Verge has the S Health slide (grainy photo) presumably from the Samsung debut presentation. (Better photos over at CNet; photo here is courtesy of 3G Doctor–see below)

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/s-health-via-device-foused-message1.png” thumb_width=”250″ /]If the implementation is high quality (and some commenters have issues with Samsung), Fitbit et al. could themselves be disrupted straight out of their (current) business model and consumer market, just like they did to Zeo.  S Health integrates–it’s already on your phone, it largely does what they do and gets the fitness tracking job done (‘Total Reports’) for most who are interested for free, even without the few available accessories. No downloading and going to Amazon or Best Buy to buy a raft of expensive accessories to make it work with your phone. No annual $49 membership so you can access your data.  Worst of all for the current crop of fitness trackers, not one–not even Nike–can beat the Samsung international distribution network and only Nike beats Samsung on brand recognition. Is it a deal-maker for consumers? Probably not, but it gets much much closer to the customer. Also a few things that Samsung has introduced–the Air View/Air Gesture eye tracking and gesture control–have great potential for app designers in other aspects of fitness and health.

We’ll have to wait and see–not too long– if other smartphones (HTC, Apple, LG, even BlackBerry) add fitness tracking. If I were Fitbit or Nike, this Editor would be hopping like an Easter Bunny to cut a licensing/partnership deal with them. BlackBerry with Nike FuelBand….

Related articles: Dan Munro over at Forbes cheers Samsung on in Latest Samsung Smartphone Adds Health Functions, Sky News adds the international perspective. CNet reports accessory pricing: S Band and Body Scale at $99.99 each, Heart Rate Monitor at $69.99. Update 18 March: Lt. Dan opines at HISTalk on What it means for healthcare and mHealth [WARNING 31 Aug 2014: linked page may now be infected with malware] –the market pushing for bigger smartphones that blur the line between phones and tablets, the navigation capabilities of Air View for EMR. A cold-waterish review/comments at iMedicalApps doesn’t think much of the native temp/humidity feature (your Editor begs to disagree); again a commenter brings up Samsung’s track record of weak software, but agrees that Era of mobile health tracking definitively arrives. Hat tip on these two updates to the 3G Doctor, David Doherty, via LinkedIn’s mHealth group. ZDNet notes Samsung’s Knox software to separate personal and business use on one phone, along with SAFE for enterprises.

And do read David Doherty, the 3G Doctor for a further dissection and projection of the S4’s capabilities in features like its camera, the humidity/temperature sensor, the aforementioned Air View/Gesture, the dual video, Smart Scroll for eye testing and even the recharging pad as particularly friendly to healthcare use — and users. Samsung takes S Health centre stage at Galaxy S4 launch and Will Samsung’s Smart Scroll turn the world upside down for mHealth Regulators? (mHealth Insight)