Simplify, simplify, simplify. Henry Thoreau was more interested in removing the incumbrances of his life and building a cabin in the woods than getting his head around the health tracking market. But a Wired magazine article makes a good case for the need to stop building Swiss army knives of wearables that have a bunch of different applications and focus on a single need that it can serve well.
As Wired puts it:
“…wearables are about to explode into an array of novel, single-function devices. They will suit discrete situations rather than peeling off multiple functions from your phone—it’s use-case engineering. Think of activity-specific clothing, like Hexoskin, that monitors workouts. Or medical devices like Vital Connect, a patch that tracks your vital signs and lets doctors access the data…”
There’s plenty of fragmentation in the wearables world and the companies that stand to gain from that are the ones that have developed a device that responds to a specific problem. Human APIand Validic, for example, have found a niche in the wearables space by providing a way to make it easy for people to de-silo data from multiple wearables to help users aggregate their data. They’re going the clinical route, while others are sticking to the consumer health space.
But these companies setting up ecosystems of tracking devices also stand to win with single application devices, too. As the article notes, people that own tracking devices tend to have more than one.
I would add devices that address a particular need.
Vessyl certainly stands out — it aggregates the nutritional content of beverages you drink throughout the day — data that’s too tedious to write down and collect manually. The idea is to prevent people from getting dehydrated and avoid getting too much sugar from their bevvies. Other companies have focused on integrating their sensor technology with a specific device such as an inhaler for asthma or COPD, like Propeller Health.
If Thoreau weighed in on the subject he might phrase it this way:
“When the mathematician would solve a difficult problem, he first frees the equation of all incumbrances, and reduces it to its simplest terms. So simplify the problem of life, distinguish the necessary and the real.”
By Stephanie Baum
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