Digital health is a fast-growing category of consumer electronics, and many new mobile and wearable health devices were featured at the 2015 CE Week held in New York City.
The major themes of the “Fresh Gear” unveiled at the meeting included connected cars, connected home devices, 3-D printing, and a growing array of wristbands, apps, and wearable devices focused on the already-crowded health/wellness segment, and the emerging health/care area.
The five I’ll focus on are good examples of digital health tech’s aimed at mainstream consumers shopping at retail at the middle of the market: an area that’s ripe to be served. The mega-trend here is that new devices are getting easier to use for EveryMan, EveryWoman, and even EveryBaby.
Bodimetrics uses the tagline, “well-being in the palm of your hand!” This handheld or clip-on device is marketed in both a consumer and a professional/medical version. Its sensors measure a user’s blood pressure, blood oxygen, ECG, pulse rate, and temperature, and records the user-generated data in an app for up to 90 days of readings. You might consider this as a competitor to Scanadu. Bodimetrics recently hired a key exec from Omron, which is a company that has long marketed a popular line of wearable heart function trackers (especially popular among older adults), sold via retail pharmacies and on Amazon. The Bodimetrics device will be sold at Bloomingdales in August 2015, along with directly to consumers from the company website. Here’s a video demonstrating the unit’s functions and operation.
Starting up in 2013, Adhere Tech is one of the next generation of smart medication adherence bottles, embedded with a cellular connection in the pill bottle. It’s got the literal bells and whistles that previous bottles have had — lights that alert the patient and text messaging capabilities to a phone. The important point here is that the patient/user doesn’t need to have Wi-Fi in the home, or a smartphone as it’s cellular. The battery life on this is about eight months long. Adhere Tech currently works with pharma companies, who generally provide this pill bottle free accompanying the prescription fill of (expensive) specialty drugs which gives the companies the ability to provide more “value beyond the pill,” as Josh Stein, CEO, told me. In addition to pharma companies, Adhere Tech is also working with hospitals and the Veterans Administration health system to support medication adherence, a continuing challenge for both industry, health providers and patients in self-care at home. Here’s a video with Josh telling the company story.
Muse bills itself as a brain sensing headband, bolstering brain health, supporting meditation, and reducing stress. The system has been touted in Consumer Reports and major mass media publications and has been used in a variety of academic medical centers and health care providers, especially in Canada which is the home of the company.
For Mother’s Day 2015, the company marketed a bundled deal for mom including a Muse and a Misfit Shine for under $300. The device will sell through Best Buy for $299 sometime mid-July 2015. Here’s a video from Muse explaining the technology and purported benefits.
A growing area of wearables and digital health devices focuses on child health, and especially babies. I talked about this trend in HealthcareDIY in a post titled The Quantified Family, based on trends I observed at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. MonBaby, “the only baby monitor in a smart button,” made a big splash at 2015 CE Week with its plastic sensor-embedded button that snaps to baby’s clothing – whether a onesie, a t-shirt, or other garment.
Having used the old-fangled walkie-talkie styled baby monitor back in the late 1990s for my then-baby, I can fully appreciate the elegant, streamlined device (in color options of pink, blue and white) coupled with a well-designed app that MonBaby embodies. If the baby turns from her back to her tummy, the button alarm will sound. The app tracks other metrics such as the baby’s breathing, if the baby falls, or crawls out of a pre-determined range. Here’s a video explaining MonBaby’s design and use.
Perhaps the most-prevalent medical device found in peoples’ homes is the thermometer. Mobile apps have come to this device, now brought to us by Vicks, the marketers who bring to market the OTC productsNyquil and VapoRub. I learned that the consumer-trusted Vicks brand has the largest market share of digital thermometers. One of the company’s baby wearable thermometers is shown here. This summer (slated for August 2015), Vicks will launch a mobile app that will pair with the new SmartTemp digital thermometer. This will be the first wireless Bluetooth stick thermometer. The app (available for OS and Android systems) can track the child’s temperature, as well as other family members’ data. In addition, the app provides checklists of symptoms to make it easy for Mom or Dad to record additional data, as well as a free text area to record any other relevant information that could be useful to bring to the next pediatrician’s or doctor’s appointment.
Many other digital health companies were showcased at 2015 CE Week including Beddit (for sleep quality), Breezing (focused on tracking metabolism), LoseIt! (the popular food-tracking app), Oura (for sleep), and Sleepace (another device for sleep).
Health Populi’s Hot Points: From a volume standpoint, it’s clear sleep is the new black for consumer health electronics, which I noted following the 2014 CES. More sleep tech’s were launched at the 2015 CES in Vegas, and before that over a dozen digital health devices tracked and supported sleep quality. Thus the sleep category is getting more crowded, although not nearly as congested as the activity-tracking segment which Fitbit continues to dominate. (Here’s my take on the recent Fitbit IPO).
The five digital health examples I’ve highlighted here show some maturity in user-centered design, market channels, and relevant consumer messaging to solve real-life problems — streamlining monitoring baby’s movements, for example, logging a child’s temperatures over time, and managing stress through mindful meditation.
The apps for these devices also show better, cleaner designs than we’ve seen in recent offerings, as well as price points for real people – like an MSRP of $24.99 for the Vicks SmartTemp thermometer, and $169 for the MonBaby smart button monitor. I especially laud these companies’ focus on mothers, in particular, as the Chief Health Officers of the family in their marketing messaging.
U.S. consumers already spend upwards of $1 in $5 of household budgets on health care. With the advent of these devices — at least those that are well-designed and rationally priced — we may become Self-Care Nation by CES 2020.