Category Archives: Wearables

Personalized Fitness a Core Focus in Health and Wellness

Written by: Sarah Shapleigh
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Without a doubt, one of the most prevalent trends we are seeing in the health and wellness space is personalization. People crave personalization in every aspect of their lives, especially when it comes to their health. This has brought on the emergence of virtual health assistants and wearables, which allow patients to track their own health and wellness. We are also seeing a shift in the way doctors communicate with their patients, through providing digital support via patient portals and 24/7 phone lines. However, it doesn’t stop with healthcare; people are also expecting personalized experiences when it comes to fitness.

It feels like every day I hear someone talking about their recent experience in a fitness class – how they were trying a new studio, how sore it made them, or how much they loved it. Gone are the days of getting a gym membership at the local YMCA. Now, people are opting for boutique fitness studios that provide more than just a treadmill or elliptical. Now, people are looking for a fitness experience that is different every time they go.

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According to the Nielsen Global Consumer Exercise Trends Survey 2014, millennials are the most likely to exercise in a fitness class (such as yoga, Pilates, or dance). Forty-five percent of millennials who exercise do so in a fitness class, compared to 27 percent of people aged 55 or older.

The personalized fitness trend is even more evident in the emergence of tools like ClassPass. ClassPass is a New York-based startup that launched in June 2013. ClassPass collects monthly subscriber fees from consumers in order to sample different workouts at local fitness studios and is valued at over $200 million.

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The ClassPass advantage is that people can try multiple and different studios where every workout will be different. ClassPass has a relationship with over 3,000 studios who offer yoga, Pilates, cycling, strength training, barre, dance, and more. People are clearly seeing the value of this type of platform because in February 2015 consumers reserved 600,000 classes and the company reported $5 million in revenue.

While the boutique fitness craze seems to be a recent trend, many of them have been gaining steam for a few years now. SoulCycle, for example, is a New York City-based company that offers a full-body indoor cycling workout class. It was founded in 2006, and in 2014 Forbes stated their annual revenue was $87.6 million.

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Pure Barre, which combines a ballet barre and Pilates workout, was founded in 2001. In July 2009, Pure Barre became a franchise and exploded in popularity. Pure Barre instructor Marisa Cavallaro explained, “Some people are kind of afraid of the gym because it’s a threatening environment or you know they’re afraid to use the weight machines because they don’t really know what to do.” With class size averaging at about 22 clients, Cavallaro says, “This is a safe place for them, they can come and get a lot of individualized attention.”

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Downsize Fitness founder Francis Wisniewski explains, “Not every person in this country is fit and many feel uncomfortable at typical box gyms. You will see more, smaller, individualized training centers pop up—they won’t be huge chains, but they will be focused on the person and their goals rather than the 12-month membership market.” People are always looking for new ways to track their progress and ultimately achieve their fitness goals.

Overall, personalization is becoming a key element in healthcare and fitness. For fitness, in particular, people have started moving away from typical gym memberships and instead use wearables like FitBit and the Apple Watch and boutique fitness studios to get a workout and track their progress on their own. Moving forward as new technologies emerge, fitness is only going to get more personal and data-driven.

Connected Health

Written by: Sarah Shapleigh
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If you had the opportunity to attend any of the recent major conferences, such as CES, Social Media Week, or SXSW, chances are you attended a session (or five) related to health. Health tracking devices, such as wearables, and technology are coming together to create a connected health phenomenon that is completely changing the way patients monitor their health and receive care.

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The Aging Population

One stat that keeps popping up at conferences and in articles: By 2050, seniors over 60 years of age will outnumber children below the age of 15 for the first time.

With the rise of the aging population, there is a growing need for personalized healthcare and the ability to both connect elderly patients with their doctors and share this information with their loved ones. CarePredict, for example, is a company that offers a wearable device and health monitoring tool for the elderly. It tracks a person’s sleep, movement, and location, and can send this information back to their family.

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Types of Connected Health Users

IBM explains how today’s health devices are most commonly categorized into two groups: the health-conscious and fitness-focused (the “Motivated Healthy”), and the chronically or terminally ill who require regular monitoring (the “Chronically Monitored”). However, in between these two groups lies another much larger group: the “Information Seekers.” This segment is “seeking some measure of control over a potentially serious health risk or a condition that is difficult to manage. They represent a willing – but currently underserved – market for health device makers.”

There is a huge opportunity to focus in on the largest population of people in the United States within the connected health sphere. These people like to take elements of their health into their own hands and leverage health tracking devices to help adopt healthy behaviors and avoid serious health risks and conditions.

What does this mean for brands/marketers?

  1. Aim to deliver full solutions to patient needs associated with a condition. The “Information Seekers” group is the profitable part of the market many are trying to target with their connected health solutions.
  2. Don’t forget about the “Chronically Monitored” segment of patients. With the rise of chronic medical conditions, there is a growing need for connected health solutions for people with chronic conditions who require constant drug therapy and monitoring.
  3. Understand where consumer behavior and technology meet in order to create valuable solutions for consumers. The best-connected health solutions are created in response to specific problems with the overall patient experience. The solution should be rooted in insights and tackle optimizing patient experiences and meeting their needs.
  4. Adapt and optimize offerings based on performance. Feedback loops are an essential part of connected health, so there need to be opportunities to adapt and change as you learn what works and what doesn’t.
  5. Ensure that the connected health solution provides value and measurable impact. Now that there is a wealth of data surrounding patients’ health, there is an opportunity to leverage that data to create programs that provide value for patients. This data can help us understand where patients are in their health journey in order to create relevant and contextual experiences as a preventative measure or post-diagnosis.

Glass, 2 Years Passed

Written by: Clare Dussman
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Two years ago, I flew to Mountain View to cash in my golden tweet for what was being called a game-changer in the tech revolution and an assault device against personal privacy: Google Glass. Being a bleeding edge tech enthusiast, I was all in.

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Twenty-four months later, the Explorer program is over and though not exactly by choice, so is my Glass usage. Glass was well-made and intuitive. If I could wear it every day I would love it; however, others would not, which is why I do not.

Google made an elegant product and a horrific vertical.

Horrific may seem like a strong word, but it is purposeful. The people who came up to me asking why I was wearing it and if I was recording them were truly scared, uneasy, and defensive. Despite the extensive coverage of Glass in the media, there was distrust about heads-up displays so much so that wearing Glass was similar to having a controversial T-shirt on: you needed to be constantly at the ready to explain, defend, and oftentimes debate.

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It did not need to be that way. As a Glass Explorer, I think things could have been different. If I were the one to try and make it different, here is what I would have done:

  1. Brought down the cost. Part of what made Glass feel unobtainable was that it was financially unobtainable. The hardware did not warrant the steep price tag – even if the R&D cost did. The price tag immediately set Glass Explorers apart from the general public in a negative and pretentious way. At the consumer level, you cannot charge more than a thousand dollars for something that is in its humble beginnings and a luxury tech accessory.
  2. Advertised the ordinary. My favorite usage for Glass was more easily capturing presentation images, recordings, and whiteboard drawings during meetings without interrupting my concentration or the rest of the people in the room. When people categorize Glass with world travelers and NASA more than they see it as a useful tool for working moms to take better notes at a parent-teacher meeting, the device seems less relatable.
  3. Shed literal light on privacy concerns. You can clearly tell when someone with Glass is taking video because the screen lights up, but because the general public was not educated on Glass’ features in a clear and concentrated way, fear spread like wildfire. If there had been a small light on the headset that lit when people were recording, everyone could have relaxed a little. Although it is not ideal, features like this could have put the non-Glass wearing public at ease.

Launching a new category is no easy task. But, the lesson to be learned from Glass is not a new one: perception is reality and worry can overrule product.

Looking forward, I think Google’s pivot toward the business sector is smart, but they need to move quickly. There are acquisitions going on that point toward a competitor not far behind.

This article is a compilation of both my own ideas and conversations I have had with countless others while wearing Glass. Thank you to everyone who had educated and constructive conversations with me, greatly helping me understand the technology, the vertical, and the pros and cons of wearing bleeding edge technology on yo face.

3 Things to Consider After 72 Hours with the Apple Watch

Written by: Tom Edwards
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Seventy-two hours ago, I was among the 22 percent of lucky customers whose orders were fulfilled for the Apple Watch. Many have asked I summarize my thoughts about what I like, what I think needs work, and what marketers should consider when creating an Apple Watch experience.

What do you like about the Apple Watch?

From Apple’s first announcement last September to receiving it on launch day, I have consumed a significant amount of information about what to expect from Apple’s latest technology. Yet, all of my research did not prepare me for the full experience.

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The watch is beautifully designed and the 42mm face is just the right size. The interface is very smooth and responsive, and I am getting a good feel for which elements add the most value for me and how I want to extend my iPhone experience.

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Setup was incredibly easy and primarily facilitated through the Apple Watch app on my iPhone. After language selection and visually pairing the Apple Watch and iPhone, I dove into setting up my application preferences.

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The key thing to consider if you are looking to invest in an Apple Watch is to understand that it is NOT an iPhone on your wrist, but it is an extension of the iPhone experience. It WILL streamline lightweight tasks such as messages, notifications, and quickly reviewing email.

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I like the flexibility of the interchangeable watch bands; it literally takes seconds to completely change the look of the watch. Third-party band options are already appearing on eBay, and I have ordered a second Apple Watch band myself.

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What needs work?

Outside of the passcode keypad, there is not a consistent input mechanism beyond voice. Responding to messages either consists of predetermined phrases, emoji, or voice response. This is fine 90 percent of the time, but for those times when it is not convenient to speak your response it will require you to pull out your iPhone. #FirstWorldProblems

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The same goes for making and taking calls on the Apple Watch. Be prepared to look like Dick Tracy when you are speaking into your wrist. Calls are better meant for taking on your actual iPhone.

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One surprise was Facebook was noticeably missing from the Apple Watch app store on launch day. You still receive notifications from the app, but there is not a native Facebook Apple Watch experience as of yet.

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One additional missing element is a browser experience. There are third-party apps that provide an abbreviated browsing experience, but there is not an official Apple Watch browser. Siri is voice-based, and any search query that is not tied to an existing app function is handed off to the iPhone.

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I have experienced accelerated battery drain on both my Apple Watch and paired iPhone. Also, Handoffs between the watch and app can be awkward in some third-party apps. Upon initial setup, a number of applications have to be preconfigured via the iPhone prior to working with the paired Apple Watch.

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How can marketers benefit from the Apple Watch?

For brands that have a native app in market, the Apple Watch can provide a way to extend the value of the application if marketers focus on creating utility. From a shopper marketing standpoint, Target’s focus on list creation is a good example of taking a single element of the app experience and using the Apple Watch to drive a specific user behavior.

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Target’s Apple Watch app initial user experience

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Target app example of highlighting item location via Apple Watch

I have used the Starbucks app extensively over the past 48 hours. The “glance” tells me how close I am to a Starbucks location as well as extends their loyalty program, and I can leverage Passbook for quick payment for my morning Americano. I have been impressed by the ease of use and the value the app is bringing me through a simple experience.

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The key areas of focus for marketers are understanding how to leverage both short and long notifications to influence certain behaviors while also leveraging the most relevant data to visualize – via a glance – to sustain ongoing wrist engagement.

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American Airlines is simplifying the boarding experience

By focusing on extending apps through the lens of consumer value and lightweight interaction, marketers can capitalize on staying at the top of mind through a user’s wrist.

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Uber’s Apple Watch experience

 

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360