Fitbit’s smartwatch on track; Intel exits the game

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Fitbit-smartwatch.jpg” thumb_width=”200″ /]Fitbit’s ‘Project Higgs’ in-house designed smartwatch is, by all reports, on schedule to hit the market later this year in time for the holidays, at least in Wall Street’s expectations. To the FT (may be paywalled) CEO James Park reassured, “The product is on track to meet our expectations and the expectations that we’ve set for investors. It’s going to be, in my opinion, our best product yet.” It will be waterproof, a battery that lasts several days, have mobile payment capability (from the Coin acquisition), simple health tracking,  heart rate monitor, sleep tracking, stream music (Spotify and Pandora are rumored), and its own app store. It will be either Wi-Fi or smartphone connected. TechRadar’s agglomeration of rumors include pricing ($199 to $299 –about £231), swappable bands, a full-color screen with 1,000 nits of brightness, an aluminum body and built-in GPS. The most interesting part is the proprietary operating system which uses Javascript. Also Pocket-Lint articles 18 July and 19 July

Intel, however, is giving up the smartwatch and fitness tracking chase. In 2014 they acquired Basis in a well-publicized move and enlisted hip celebrities like 50 Cent to endorse their products versus the likes of Apple and Fitbit. In November about 80 percent of the group was let go, according to CNBC, and entirely eliminated this month. The New Technologies Group is now focusing on augmented reality. CNBC

Is the fitness tracker eventually going to lose to the smartwatch? (Updated)

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/LG-Urbane.png” thumb_width=”150″ /][grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/fitbit-charge.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Which one would you prefer? 

The interest in fitness bands has quantifiably and substantially diminished since January, according to Argus Insights’ survey of online consumer reviews (!)–and since the debut of Apple Watch. And while Fitbit maintains its leadership in the band category (sorry Jawbone, though Editor Charles won’t be), the rising preference is for smartwatches like the Apple Watch and Android wear such as the Moto 360 and the LG Watch Urbane (pictured). While there’s a substantial price difference between smartwatches (~$350 versus under $150), and both Apple Watch and LG’s watches (versus LG bands) have limited fitness capability, there’s few new developments in fitness bands to create excitement. There have been enough problems with fitness band reliability, breakage, rising prices and a boredom with design to diminish interest while new brands enter the market, and smartwatch prices come down slightly. For the price, users also want more out of their watches. Neil Versel in MedCityNews.

Updated: Apple Watch, with 3.6 million units sold in 2nd quarter was immediately behind Fitbit with 4.4 million, according to IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker. 2 of every 3 smart wearables (capable of running third-party apps) was an Apple Watch. Another sign of the coming divide between fitness bands (which will be sold on price and fitness focus) and smartwatches (which will be sold on versatility as well as fitness justifying the higher price).  IDC release

Also by Mr Versel is a memorial to telemedicine pioneer  Dr ‘Red’ Duke. As a surgical resident at Parkland Hospital, he was on the team which saved the life of Texas Governor John Connally, shot with President John Kennedy in November 1963.

All about the fitness devices with Parks Associates, Juniper Research

Fitness trackers are hot, hot, hot.

So Parks Associates‘ latest study tells us, with 60 million US households expected to own at least one by 2019 (hey, only 4 years away!) with global revenues exceeding $5 billion. Of that, smartwatches will constitute 100 million units. Given that only 7 million Android-based watches have been sold to date, and that the Apple Watch is projected to be about 10 million (2.3 million sold to date, according to ZDNet which glows away), that may actually be–achievable. POLITICO Morning eHealth also reported from their interview that about one-fifth of smartphone and tablet owners use a health app on a monthly basis, and 19 percent of smartphone owners find a “master” health app that aggregates data from other health apps appealing. Parks release.

In the UK, of Juniper Research’s top five smart wireless devices, three have a relationship to health, with the Apple and Google-TAG Heuer smartwatches on the high end and GOQii Fitness using their or anyone’s watch or fitness band to keep you on track for the price of their subscription. Less karma than when we saw them last June at CEWeek, more coaching. The apps will be the primary generator of revenue in fitness-band land, with hardware margins declining in the next few years. (Speaking of revenue, Juniper’s full study will set you back a tidy £3970.)

Fitness/wellness trackers have amazing potential–to annoy

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/keep_calm_and_smash_watch.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Your Editors have previously noted some interesting personal experiences with fitness bands/trackers. Editor Charles, at last report, was on his third Jawbone Up in a year; this Editor has remained immune to their mostly clonky charms (tempted by the classic Swiss watch looks of Withings Activité [TTA 26 June 14], put off by the $450 price, but now notes that the sporty, analog Activité Pop is available in the US at $150.) Even if not among the Quantified Self avant-garde, we who write about tech can deal with most of it without blinking too much. Over at FierceMobileHealthcare, Judy Mottl, a regular writer for their FierceHealthIT website, took “the plunge into the wearable device pool” and hit her head on the bottom. Her experience of mostly frustration with the app, bad data generation, inability to sync with the smartphone, saying you’re awake/sleeping when not and so on indicates that this is one wearable she should have returned to the store–or treated according to our picture. Is this one isolated example or a more common experience than the healtherati who adore wearables let on?

There’s some evidence that the leaders in fitness bands realize their shortcomings on the app side. Fitbit acquired fitness coaching app developer, FitStar, for at least $17.8 million. Mobihealthnews

Update 2 April: Editor Charles reports on his third Jawbone Up, and his daughters’ experience:

I took to wearing the third Jawbone UP the other way round – i.e. with the two ends in line with the back of my hand, and the thicker bit in line with the inside of my hand and that seems to have done the trick. However my older daughter (more…)

Radiation from smartwatches, wearables: real, alarmist, or the NY Times?

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/gimlet-eye.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]The Gimlet Eye has that certain half-baked radioactive ‘glow’. The healtherati are all aTwitter over a New York Times Style (!) section article that does the unthinkable–it dares to raise the question of the possible harm of radiation that wearables, including smartwatches as well as smartphones, might present to both adults and children. The writer, Nick Bilton, is a regular tech columnist.

After an unfortunate baiting for attention at the start, making an analogy of cellphone/wearable radiation to 1930s adverts with doctors ‘endorsing’ cigarettes, he for the most part tries to take a balanced approach. By the end, he lines it up like this. Bluetooth LE and Wi-Fi–no evidence of harm in adults. 3G/4G cellphone radiation–you may want to be careful. He points out that studies aren’t definitive. Older studies, such as the WHO’s, a Swedish and some European studies point to harmful (carcinogenic) effects from phones held extensively too close to the head, but nothing is definitive in causality as the CDC pointed out and additional studies have proven no conclusive evidence of harm. Conclusion–use anything 3G/4G with caution, away from the head, limit exposure by children or pregnant women. Cautious enough?

Oddly, he advocates Bluetooth headsets but doesn’t mention using speakerphone settings–and then, for the smashing windup, won’t put the Bluetoothed Apple Watch near his head. It’s a weirdly sourced (an alternative doctor the only one cited? Old studies?) and half-baked, partially tossed salad article. Consider: most wearables are–surprise, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connected. But it does bring up the inconvenient question, only partially answered, of All Those Rads and What (If Anything) Are They Doing To Us.

What’s really interesting? The immediate, twitchy and prolonged press response. As they say in New Jersey, they are ‘jumping ugly’. (more…)

Apple Watch may not be as ‘healthy’ as touted

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/apple-watch-beauty-shot.png” thumb_width=”150″ /]According to multiple press sources in the past 24 hours, the anxiously-awaited Apple Watch is rumored to be having big trouble with its more advanced healthcare measuring features. We noted at the time “Haptic engine and heart rate monitor; 4 lenses. infrared, LED, photo sensors detect pulse.” plus daily activity [TTA 9 Sep, 11 Sep 14]. Well, not quite. The Wall Street Journal broke the news that it will not debut in April including monitoring of “blood pressure, heart activity and stress levels” as originally planned because, simply, the watch did not measure them reliably and accurately (hairy, sweaty arms!), they were too complex or required regulatory approval (not so–see FDA and MDDS).

Apple has relied on the Watch to defend its Still Most Innovative Company Post-Jobs turf, (more…)

The demise of Google Glass

Well we predicted only a few days ago that there would be some major wearable casualties this year, little realising that the first was about to hit us: Google’s decision to stop selling Glass “in present form”.

Donning this editor’s retrospectacles, the campaign to embed Glass into the world’s technology infrastructure has always felt a bit forced: much more supplier push than customer pull, with wearers, except in circumstances like surgical operations, given a wide berth by many non-wearers. It was pricey too.

Clearly though, the ability to record video and to access information in hands-free mode will continue to be an important requirement for many health & care workers, and social attitudes will likely change too, so there can be little doubt that perhaps a less obviously intrusive version will return in due course. (more…)

Why a smartwatch may feel…de trop

De tropFrench, adjective, meaning too much, too many, unwanted

Have you noticed that many early adopters have skipped smartwatches? Other wearables such as fitness trackers have taken their place successively on the wrists of your favorite Quantified Selfer or weekend warrior. (A sign: they are now mass market at drug stores like CVS and sports stores for the holiday.) But how many people are looking forward to a special delivery of an Apple Watch, Samsung Gear S or even the well-reviewed and well-priced LG G Watch R in Santa’s pack? Having just returned from the NYeC Digital Health Conference, I saw few on the wrists of DH mavens. Smartwatches (and clothing wearables) also faded out at CES Unveiled [TTA 21 Nov], a complete turnaround from June’s event.

If you’ve been wondering too, you’ll be nodding like a bobblehead at John Nosta’s blog post in NuviumThe Death of Wearables. (more…)

Samsung vs Apple: Go big or go home

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/gear-s-hands-on.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Implications for mobile health abound in the fight for the innovation throne. Kicking off the autumn intro season was Samsung’s big reveal Wednesday at IFA Berlin and NYC of their new phablets (Note 4, the oddly curved/fallaway screen Note Edge), the big ‘n’ curvy almost-phone Gear S smartwatch and the virtual reality headset Gear VR for the Note 4. Clearly Samsung is pushing the boundaries on size and innovation leadership–as well as the sheer number of phones/phablets/wearables in market with something for everyone. Its health developer platform SAMI and the Simband hardware [TTA 30 May] plus joint research with UCSF on ‘novel vital signs’ [TTA 2 June] positions it in the health tech area as the alternative to Apple. ZDNet, Gizmag (Gear S), CNet (Gear VR) which may have some health uses.

Next Tuesday is Apple’s premiere of two new iPhone 6 models with 4.7 inch and 5.5 inch screens to go on sale this month, plus an announcement for a yet-unnamed Apple wearable, but a rumored price of $400 for on-sale next year. Their developments with (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!

11th Wearable Technologies Conference 2014 I Europe

27-28 January 2014, International Congress Center, Munich, Germany

The 11th Wearable Technologies Conference is the leading event to experience the most comprehensive line-up of technology innovations, discuss the latest trends, and meet doers and makers, thought leaders and innovators, as well as groundbreaking start-ups in this area. Featuring smart watches and smart glasses projects, and the industry giants Samsung, Sony and ST Microelectronics, the 11th Wearable Technologies Conference Europe gives you the chance to get in-depth insights into the future of lifestyle, sports, and health devices and other application fields for wearable technologies. Another highlight is the award ceremony of the Wearable Technologies Innovation World Cup on Jan. 27, 2014, where the finalists will present their solutions, and the “WT Innovator of the year” will be announced. Website. SpeakersRegistration.

2014: the year of reckoning for the ‘better mousetraps’

Or, the Incredible Immutability of the Gartner Hype Cycle

From Editor Donna, her take on the ‘mega-trend’ of 2014

This Editor expected that her ‘trends for next year’ article would be filled with Sensors, Wearables, Glasses, Smartwatches, 3D Printing, Tablets and Other Whiz-Bang Gizmos, with splashes of color from Continuing Crises like Healthcare.gov in the US, the NHS’ 3million lives plus ‘whither UK telecare’, various Corporate ‘Oops-ses’, IP/Patent Trolls and Assaults on Privacy. While these will continue to spread like storm debris on the beach, providing continuing fodder for your Editors (and The Gimlet Eye) to pick through, speculate and opine on, what in my view rises above–or is under it all–for 2014?

We are whipping past the 2012-13 Peak of Inflated Expectations in health tech…

…diving into the Trough of Disillusionment in 2014. Crystallizing this certainty (more…)

Wearables more than trackers…family communicators

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Zoomed.jpg” thumb_width=”180″ /]This article from Connected World, despite the title of Will your kid wear wearables?, is a look at Revolutionary Tracker, which has developed two products from a GPS-enabled tracker to a simplified smartwatch. Both read to a smartphone for GPS tracking and communication. Where it differs is that the company broadly, not narrowly targets, ‘family tracking and communications’ as a modish wearable–infants, children, special needs children and adults (the autism market which most trackers have concentrated on), older adults and pets. Lone workers are another market, and a newer market: groups such as in camps, school trips and residential communities. It is also unusually made in USA, and the founders already have in the works a more sophisticated-looking design with multiple buttons and text functionality.

Our related recent coverage: KeepUS (UK only), Mindme (also UK),  We’ve covered Lok8U (UK/US) in the past and buddi (UK) as far back as 2009.

Around the mHealth Summit in 70 pictures

Courtesy of mHealth Insight/3G Doctor, David Doherty takes the LIFE magazine approach and delightfully, you feel like you are there. He hosted a get-together at his booth on Monday (many pics), stops by AliveCor, Alere Connect (hello Kent Dicks), the Venture+ Forum (see Lois Drapin’s earlier article; hello Richard Scarfo, director of the Summit and Pat Salber of HealthTechHatch crowdfunder and the DoctorWeighsIn), VNA Health Group, investor in many things Esther Dyson, Google Glass Explorers, Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smartwatch and the ‘panini generation’ courtesy of AT&T ForHealth. But you’ll have to page all the way down to see the last shot of an ‘wild, wooly and yo-ho-ho’ AliveCor demo in My thoughts on the 2013 mHealth Summit as it happens…

Sensors>>data>>what next?

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/17L_2.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Three of our FBQs concern data–who’s looking at it, who’s taking action with it and how it’s integrated into records. MedCityNews examines two sensor-based monitors in considering how to extract meaning from the data. In the hospital, bed pressure sensor plate EarlySense already has a pressure sensor algorithm that reminds a nurse or aid to turn the patient, but their main emphasis is highlighting vital signs trending in heart and respiratory rate, which can be predictive of a deteriorating condition based on a set range. For the mid-range of the healthy fit who want to be fitter, MIO (left) is the first and at present, only device in a watch form which tracks heart rate monitoring at performance levels without a chest strap and downloads data to an iPhone–which doesn’t quite support the premise of the article, but then there’s that hint (MIO is sold in Apple Stores for $199) that the technology will wind up in smartwatches….but still, Magic 8 Ball says ‘concentrate and ask again’.

Apple purchasing 3D gesture control developer PrimeSense

Breaking News

Based on the report you read, the deal is done or nearly done, but it is highly likely that Apple will be acquiring Tel Aviv-based PrimeSense for an amount in or around $345 million. PrimeSense developed the original 3D gesture control behind Microsoft Kinect (replaced by their in-house version); the company currently works with Asus and probably Apple. The purchase will enable Apple to add controls with body movements and hand gestures to its smartphone, tablet and TV products, as well as more closely defend its own patents in 3D gesture control lined out in Apple-ology blog 9to5Mac. Nothing in this or other reports about the Apple foray into smartwatches or wearables, but the capability fits. Watch 9to5Mac, TheNextWeb and TechCrunch for updates.