Withings returns to international markets with Steel HR Sport and a new Go

Withings, bought back earlier this year from Nokia by founder Eric Carreel [TTA 3 May, release 31 May], reentered the market last month with most of the Nokia Health line and its new Steel HR Sport, a multisport hybrid smartwatch with heart rate monitoring, connected GPS tracking and fitness level analytics that analyzes VO2 max (release). Like Withings products before the acquisition, it is a pleasure to look at–well designed and more watch-like than smartwatchy–and surprisingly priced at $200. But on the budget side, reports indicate that Withings is reviving the Withings Go, famous for its eInk face. According to Wareable, they found a listing with the FCC for a successor model number to the previous Go (WAM03) containing information about a fresh design and new sensors for this basic fitness tracker. No price or release date is listed, but the 2016 model was about $70 retail.

Withings’ HQ has returned to Paris and is selling in the US, Canada, Mexico, Europe, Asia, and New Zealand.

Fitbit reaching out to NHS–but new smartwatch ‘a giant mess’ (updated)

There have been sketchy reports of Fitbit’s CEO James Park meeting with the NHS last month to get Fitbits into the ‘big moves’ in wearables and apps promised by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt. Mr. Park’s interview with the Sunday Times (limited access) indicated that Fitbit’s NHS project, should it happen, would be for exercise and activity monitoring, similar to the partnership with UnitedHealthcare which reduces premiums based on policyholder exercise monitoring. This move towards payers is in line with reports starting last year of Fitbit’s seeking clinical markets and moving away from the fickle B2C market. City AM

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Fitbit-Watch-FINAL.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Given this week’s leak/reveal and scuttlebutt on the new Fitbit smartwatch, Mr. Park needs to gin up a big payer, quickly. The advance buzz is not positive nor kind. It’s delayed from spring to end of year–in competition with the latest iteration of the Apple Watch. This advance photo of codenamed ‘Higgs’ from Yahoo!Finance indicates a certain clunkiness (and derivation from the panned semi-smartwatch Blaze). It’s pricey, rumored to be priced at around $300. Features include a 1,000nit, built-in GPS, heart-rate monitoring, contactless payments, Pandora and four days of battery life along with connectivity to new Bluetooth headphones. Yet TechCrunch notes “complaints about design, production delays, antenna issues and software problems.” in what they dub “a giant mess”. Forbes notes problems in waterproofing and GPS signal. There are other Android-based smartwatches that do the same for the same price or less. Will this save Fitbit? To be determined….

Update: CEO Park denies delays in the new smartwatch, saying “all new product introductions are on track”, but then again–it hasn’t been officially announced! On the earnings call Thursday, Fitbit stated that new products are now accounting for 84 percent of 1stQ revenue. The company also reported better-than-expected earnings for the first quarter of 2017, reporting an adjusted loss of 15 cents per share on revenue of $299 million. Full year projected at $1.5 – 1.7 bn. Marketwatch, The Verge

The hypealicious, hyperluxus Apple Watch debut–what the healtherati are interested in

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/gimlet-eye.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]L’œil de Gimlet eyes the Apple Watch. What’s down the road is more important than Monday’s unveil. Certainly The Eye, an adorer of all things over-the-top, would love to have the $10,000-and-up 18 karat, Daddy Warbucks, Solid Gold Cadillac edition of the Apple Watch. It is the sheer hyperluxus, Mercedes-Maybach S600-ness of it all that races my pulse. Stop at $4,000? Nein! $10,000 and up lends a golden glow to all those ordinary, plastic-banded, Mickey Mouse-faced $349 and up versions for the Applepolloi that take that pulse, burp your wrist when you’re not moving enough, open the garage door, play tunes and let you draw little thingies on the face that you can send to your friends. (Urp) What’s even better than a Merc-Maybach in Conspicuous Consumption-Ville? That it will be out of date in a year, unless Apple has a trade-in policy.

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Tim-Cook-previews-the-App-008.jpg” thumb_width=”200″ /] Cue Tim Cook and the Happy Dance of the Watches. (Photo: Zuma/Rex via Guardian)

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Apple-Goldfinger.jpg” thumb_width=”200″ /]Cue Shirley Bassey. (Gigaom via Twitter)

Ah, but let us get down to business and cut our swathe through the fog d’hype. (Editor Donna just walked in the door…)

As predicted and projected, the Apple Watch in stores 24 April in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, UK and US goes light and standard on health measurement features: accelerometer, heart rate sensors, running and weekly activity reports. What’s different? Wrist burps you if you’re a lazy, sitting sod. (Not a great feature for deep meditators or napsters.) The leak from two weeks ago feinted health through downplaying the functionality of the Watch. Back in September, claims included blood pressure and stress monitoring. [TTA 18 Feb]

Now for the right cross. It’s not the Watch, it’s the ResearchKit. Apple gets serious in health apps beyond HealthKit, partnering with the stars in the medical research firmament. As reported: (more…)

Healbe GoBe sees daylight–but still can’t count calories

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/healbe-gobe-top-4-970×0.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]At CEWeek NYC last June, this Editor spent some time with Healbe’s co-founder, who demonstrated to me a prototype of the Healbe GoBe 100% Automatic Body Manager fitness tracker. I walked away underwhelmed at its performance and skeptical of its main claim to fame–automatic measurement of caloric intake via measuring blood glucose conversion to fluid in cells. This was reinforced by a trail of tech product reviewers digging into its development, the controversial science behind it and a growing rebellion on Indiegogo, where contributions exceeded $1 million. Then it took delays–first September, then November. Few in the industry believed it would ever ship.

However, it has, and at least one intensive review after a month of wear is in from Engadget. Topline: it’s not a scam (which will disappoint some)  (more…)

Lively telecare system adds smartwatch-flavored PERS

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Lively_safetywatch_captioned_June-2014.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]The Lively home telecare system, which uses a series of passive activity sensors wirelessly connected to a cellular monitoring hub, announced a ‘safety watch’ addition to its system. The wristband has a watch form factor, is waterproof and contains an emergency button with analog/digital option on its time/date watch face. The smartwatch-ish features are medication reminders and a pedometer for step tracking. When out of home, the wristband tethers to an Android (only) smartphone. Battery is good for about six months. If the button is pushed, there is a ‘countdown’ during which a call center attempts to reach the user by phone (watch is not two-way voice) prior to dispatching emergency (more…)

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…)

Technology which resonates with the 50+ consumer

If you are a health tech developer, entrepreneur or marketer lost in the forest of the 50+ market, Laurie Orlov of Aging in Place Technology Watch and the new Boomer Health Tech Watch just handed you a map with her latest study for AARP, Challenging Innovators: Matching offerings to the needs of older adults (link to PDF). To appeal successfully to the multiple segments and sub-segments of 50+, there’s more to it than a strong belief that your tech would have been just the thing for your mum or grandmere. The hurdles like reluctant long-term care providers and tech-unfamiliar older adults are significant. Misreading the market, making the tech too complex or identifying it too strongly with ‘old folks’ usually lead to ‘lights out’. Ms Orlov’s pointers take you through testing, crowdfunding, accelerators, the right way to price disrupt, transition point mapping, partnerships and more. A recommended guide.

Over at Aging in Place, Ms Orlov serves up another idea with The ideal wearable for seniors – why not a much-modified PERS which incorporates smartwatch/fitness band capabilities such as dehydration monitoring, activity, blood pressure and other tracking, putting them up on a smartphone app.

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

Intel and its ‘Basis’ instinct

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/intel-basis-smartwatch_large.png” thumb_width=”150″ /]Intel now in the smartwatch business…or are they?

TechCrunch reported yesterday that fitness tracker Basis sold to Intel, ending weeks of speculation of a sale to Apple, Google, Samsung and Microsoft. The price is between $100 and $150 million according to TechCrunch’s sources. A higher-end ($200) watch which recently entered the sleep tracking area, Basis’ Health Tracker B1 currently tracks steps (accelerometer), calories burned, heart rate, skin temperature and perspiration through wrist contact. Their proprietary software loads up the information to a dashboard for analysis and tracking. Basis has not developed into a major fitness smartwatch, having 7 percent of the market according to TechCrunch but far less according to NPD Group’s 2013-4 retail sales year , with Fitbit at 68 percent, Jawbone at 19 percent and Nike FuelBand at 10 (Mobihealthnews). With Intel premiering at CES a smart chip called Edison for wearables and a Siri-like Bluetooth headset dubbed Jarvis, the speculation is that the purchase is to give Intel both entreé into and a ready-made working team for the Internet of Things and wearables, since it largely missed the boat in mobile.  Also Motley Fool, Apple Insider and one tech observer on why Intel shouldn’t be in the smartwatch business.

Samsung gets jump on 2014 smartwatch rush

Breaking news

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/galaxy_gear_mockup.jpg” thumb_width=”175″ /]Word via Mashable is that Samsung’s shot over the bow in the smartwatch wars comes on 4 September when it introduces its smartwatch, the Galaxy Gear, just ahead of the IFA consumer electronics trade show in Berlin. Rumor has it that it will be in five colors (white, orange, gray, black and the newest trend, white gold). This couples with their recent introduction of the massive phablet, the Galaxy Mega. No word yet on health applications, but what comes in the smartwatch will be an indicator of Samsung’s seriousness about extending S Health.  (Photo is mockup) Samsung’s Galaxy Gear Coming Sept. 4Samsung’s Smart Watch Rumored to Come in Five Colors

Previously in TTA: Smartwatches as the 2014 tablet, redux; Apple-ologists discern ‘new’ interest in health tech and telehealth