fitbit-flex-xlOne of the fastest-growing segments at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week is digital health. And within that segment, there’s a battle brewing for what technology companies seem to think is the most valuable part of real estate on the human body: the wrist.

I counted at least fifty products as I cruised aisles 26000-27000 in the South Hall at the Las Vegas Convention Center that had wristbands, usually black, plastic or rubbery, and often able to click in and out of the band for use in-hand, in pocket, or in a few cases, on a lanyard or pendant device.

But it’s the wrist that is the body-part favorite for the category. And this trend falls into the category of a herd mentality that Michael Yang of Comcast Ventures spoke about in a session on Tuesday when he discussed the investment climate for digital health. Yang’s fund at Comcast Ventures has invested in several health products and service companies in  their portfolio, among them Accolade and BodyMedia. The latter company is here at #2013CES with their latest version of their FDA regulated device, the CORE 2, a slimmer version of their armband product that also offers a blingy silver metal band option for the fashionista fitness person. The product is also being marketed in a new affiliation with The Biggest Loser TV franchise.

Bodymedia colorThe fashion aspect has grown this year in the Battle of the (wrist)Bands, too, so that while black rubber and plastic still dominate the scene, many device companies are offering a Pantone-inspired palette of color options. The Fitbit Flex (in black)  is the company’s newest tracker which integrates a sleep function into the strap device. But Fitbit’s simple Zip tracker comes in five different hues. The Fitbug Orb (Fitbug of the UK, not to be confused with the Fitbit company) activity tracker is fuschia pink, white or black, and can also, like many devices, do its thing while sitting in a pocket.

There are a few activity tracking devices that are operating in other body-real estate locations. In the above-the-neck category, the intriguing Valencell is a sensor-based tracker that is licensed to third parties; the first licensee is iRiver, which has developed an earbud system integrating the Valencell technology so that, while you’re listening to your tunes, the earbud is sensing blood flow to the ear and measuring activity while, say, you’re running or walking on the treadmill. An app records in real-time the heart activity and so the user can keep track of her exercise efficiency.

A new entrant at 2013 CES is Sonny Vu, whose Misfit Wearables is taking a more flexible approach to digital health with its Shine disc, which is a slick coin-sized tracker that can be wworn in a variety of ways: on a wrist, popped into one of several bands Misfit is offering, via pendant, and eventually in t-shirts and on belts, Vu envisions.

PrintHealth Populi’s Hot Points: In his talk, Michael Yang observed that suppliers in the digital health category seemed to have read the same playbook that “somebody” might have published in a blog or delivered in an industry speech. In the 50+ “booth encounters” i’ve had here at #2013CES, I perceive so much me-too-ness. While I’ve no doubt from the forecaster side of my brain there’s growing demand for self-tracking, I’ve also no doubt there will be a market shakeout, and soon, among those companies who are offering more value that surrounds these devices and their “small data” generated by sensors, which are getting cheaper and more clever. People need feedback mechanisms and actionable advice, social support, and personalization/customization options (fashion- and other-wise). Those developers who take these devices beyond gadgetry and the initial sale of the device (whose price-points sit remarkably around the $99 vicinity) and consider the user’s total sustainable experience, intentions and health-aspirations, will survive the Battle of the (wrist)Bands.

 

 

17 Comments on Battle of the (wrist)Bands at the Digital Health Summit, 2013 CES

HealthPopuli.com said : Guest Report 4 months ago

[…] wrist is the most crowded are of human real estate for wearable health tracking, as I discussed here on Health Populi during the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show . Note that a new report from IDTechEx […]

Digital Fitness Wristbands | PC1 Q3 said : Guest Report 11 months ago

[…] Battle of the (wrist)Bands at the Digital Health Summit … – Health Populi’s Hot Points: … 15 Responses to Battle of the (wrist)Bands at the Digital Health Summit, 2013 CES. […]

Battle of the (wrist)Bands at the 2013 Digital Health Summit said : Guest Report one year ago

[…] posted on Health Populi on […]

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[…] from brands we’ve known, and new entrants exhibiting this year, as well, to add to the Battle for the (Wrist)Bands and other parts of the human […]

The Internet of Healthy Me – putting digital health in context for #CES2015 | Health Populi said : Guest Report 2 years ago

[…] more with one tool in this increasingly app-ified world), and too much competition for our wrists as I pointed out two years ago at 2013 […]

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[…] saw dramatic growth in the vendor quantity showing at 2014 CES in Las Vegas, especially marked by more wristbands than can be worn by a healthy octopus. There’s the supply side of wearable digital health […]

HealthcareDIY – an old idea made new | The Health Care Blog said : Guest Report 3 years ago

[…] while shopping the health and beauty aisle and discount clothing racks. Nike+, Jawbone, and Fitbit battle for space on peoples’ wrists for activity-tracking. Patients ask doctors for lower-cost treatments and more convenient […]

Defining Mobile Health – the blur between health and health care | Health Populi said : Guest Report 3 years ago

[…] mHealth segments include “basic services,” remote treatment and diagnosis,” and remote patient monitoring including cardiac and chronic disease management. Separate from these applications, as the picture shows, are mFitness tools such as blood pressure cuffs, connected watches, connected pedometers, and connected wristbands, a topic I wrote about here in Health Populi following the 2013 Consumer Electronics  Show in The Battle of the (wrist)Bands. […]

Needing a new kind of tracker to track #mhealth investments in 2013 | Health Populi said : Guest Report 3 years ago

[...] Electronics Show were summed up as the “Battle for the (wrist)Bands,” published here on Health Populi in January 2013. It’s eight months later, and the battle is now a pot-boiler. My skills in [...]

The role of internet technologies in reducing health care costs: Meeker inspirations | Health Populi said : Guest Report 4 years ago

[...] The growth of fitness wearable devices [...]

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