Target, the beloved retail channel for many design-minded value-conscious consumers, has opted in to mobile health through its purchase of SMARTCOACH mobile health coaching devices. SMARTCOACH is part of a growing category of wearable devices that monitor health behaviors like walking and calories consumed. What differentiates SMARTCOACH is the “coach” element, which provides real-time feedback throughout the day. Most other devices in the market simply track and record data.

And it’s feedback loops that more experts say are key to sustaining health behavior change.

Target will bring the device into stores for purchase in the fall.

Like some other wearable devices, SMARTCOACH has an online community and mobile apps to support consumers who use the device on mobile platforms. The device tracks steps, distances, and energy expended.

Getting into the Target retail channel is a big opportunity for the Medipattern Corporation, which is based in Canada.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: Wearable sensors have been available direct-to-consumers online from the vendors, along with selected consumer-facing outlets such as Best Buy,, diet centers and through gyms.

Target, a general retailer of the Big Box variety, is placing a bet on a product category that has been the province of pioneering Quantified Self and early adopting health-minded consumers. Target’s demographic goes well beyond the uber-health conscious: it’s more female, single, and, except for Kohl’s, attracts a greater percentage of households earning over $50K than Kmart or Walmart. The comparative demographic stats are shown in the second chart from Ad Age titled, The People of Walmart.

This is an exciting development for whole health: if Target can move SMARTCOACH devices into American households, the category rises for all players including BodyMedia, FitBit, Jawbone, and the many other wearable sensors in and coming onto the market.

Shoppers…quantify thyselves!