The Week in Wearables August 14

Consumer Wearables

Apple and Aetna are discussing offering free or heavily discounted Apple Watches to Aetna’s 23M members. Keep in mind Apple sold around 12-15M units in 2016 (depending on whose numbers you look at). This is one example of why I think most analysts vastly underestimate the market size for wearables. Just one deal like this would greatly increase unit volume and revenue for Apple Watch specifically, but the wearables category in general. Here.

The myth of general purpose wearables, great perspective here from Bob O’Donnell: “In the end, though, dispelling the myth that wearables can or should be general purpose devices could, ironically, be the very thing that helps them finally reach the wider audience that many originally thought they could.” Here.

Fossil’s stock price dropped 25% at one point last week because of weak earnings report. Their strategy of offsetting declining revenues from traditional watches with revenue/growth from wearables and connected watches has not yet shown results, but Fossil remains committed to the strategy. Here.

LVL Technologies product that is trying to measure hydration has been delayed again, this time until summer of 2018 (Here.). Backers of the Kickstarer project are unsurprisingly unhappy, but they should be happy the company received a $6.5M investment from Samsung and Maxim, which greatly improves the chances the product will ever get to market. Here.

More details of the upcoming Samsung wearable have emerged – targeted toward sports & fitness and using Tizen OS just like other Samsung wearables, so likely no shift to Android Wear as some had thought. Here and Here.

Medical Wearables

Details from the pitch deck for Jawbone’s planned pivot to medical wearables have emerged via Bloomberg. Speculative plans included medical-grade wearable to track hydration, respiration, blood pressure, and alcohol levels. It all seems very much in line with Jawbone’s track record of selling grand ambitious visions with extremely challenging execution paths. Here.

Fascinating research on Tissue Nanotransfection (TNT)—uses nanotechnology to actively reprogram a person’s cellular makeup. By simply placing the chip on a wound, the device sends an electrical pulse designed to convert living cells into whatever necessary cells the body requires. Tests have not been done on humans yet, but the technology is currently waiting on FDA approval and will likely enter human trials within the next year. Here.

Not specific to wearables, but Apple received a patent grant that shows their continued interest in health. The patent shows how the iPhone could be used as a health sensor to detect “blood pressure index, blood hydration, body fat content, oxygen saturation, pulse rate, perfusion index, electrocardiogram, photoplethysmogram, and/or any other such health data.” Here.

Google also showed it’s continued interest in health by acquiring Senosis, which was trying to turn smartphones into monitoring devices that collect health metrics to diagnose pulmonary function, hemoglobin counts and other critical health information. Here.

Data

Tractica released it’s latest wearable market research this week with expected growth to 430M units by 2022. Here.

NPD released data on smartwatch sales in the US. They expect US smartwatch ownership to go from 9% to 15% by end of 2018, driven by new product introductions by market leaders. Here.

The Week in Wearables August 7

Consumer Wearables

Leaked renderings of Fitbit’s new smartwatch are reported as the final designs. Very similar to what was leaked a few months ago and still underwhelming at best. Here.

Those leaks also triggered quite a bit of speculation about the use of red light for the optical heart rate sensing. It’s not entirely clear from the rendering that any change to Fitbit’s HRM is imminent, but, if true, it could be related to Fitbit’s drive for more advanced biometrics from their devices. Here.

Another analyst report puts Xiaomi at the top of the wearables unit volume list, although it’s a stretch to say wearables is still growing “thanks to Xiaomi”. Many others contributing to that growth – large and small. Here.

Medical Wearables

Researchers at Harvard and UNC studying PTSD are partnering with Verily to help with data collection and management, including the Study Watch. Here. This follows news in April of Project Baseline using the Study Watch for a comprehensive longitudinal study of public health. Here.

Research engineers have developed a biosensor that stimulates localized sweat with a band-aid sized biosensor. Sweat holds a great deal of potential for bio-analytics, but as with any lab research, there is a long way to go before (or if) it’s commercialized. Here.

Wearables tracking Parkinson’s Disease in Australia. Here.

One Fun Thing

Blackberry enters the wearable segment. Not exactly what you might be thinking – they’re doing OS for enterprise/industrial wearables, including AR glasses. Here.

The Week in Wearables July 31

Consumer Wearables

The next Apple Watch will have cellular connectivity, according to Bloomberg. If they can keep the battery life decent (still a big question mark), this would be a massive step forward for smartwatches and wearables in general because it would provide some independence from the smartphone. Here.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said Apple Watch sales were up over 50% in the June quarter. Full earnings call transcript here.

Fitbit reported earnings that pleased Wall Street (because they lost less money and forecasted better than expected), but unit sales were down 40% compared to last year. Here.

Fitbit CEO James Park also said their smartwatch would launch before the holidays and would feature an “app platform” and an “app gallery” powered by the former Pebble platform. Sounds to me like it will support a limited number of apps at first so they don’t want to call it a full app store. Here.

Samsung revealed work on a new wearable that is something between a fitness band and a smartwatch. Here.

Medical Wearables

This was from a few weeks ago, but a good review from Rock Health on digital health funding so far in 2017. The first half of 2017 has already seen the same number of +$100M fundings (7) as all of 2016. Top categories being funded:

  • Consumer health information
  • Digital gym equipment (almost all of this funding was one company – Peleton)
  • Healthcare consumer engagement
  • Digital therapies
  • Analytics/big data

More here.

Data

One research firm believes Xioami is shipping more wearables than any other company in the world, ahead of Apple and Fitbit. Here.

The Week in Wearables July 17

Consumer Wearables

Intel has apparently eliminated their wearables division entirely and will now focus on AR. Intel has never really had a clear strategy in wearables and seemed like they were/are chasing what they think is the next growth platform since they missed mobile. Here.

Garmin expanded its wearables reach into senior living facilities through a partnership with K4Connect. Here.

An interesting collection of thoughts on why Jawbone failed. Here.

The data from this report is interesting because of the source. The company will send a selection of wearables to you for a week for around $35. You also have to tell them why you are interested in wearables so they can tailor your selection accordingly, which obviously generates valuable (and likely more accurate) data on purchase decisions. Here.

The price of consumer AR hardware is dropping – you can now pre-order $100 AR headset for delivery later this year. Here.

Revenue at TomTom’s sports business, which is mostly made up of its consumer wearables business, fell 20 percent in the April-June quarter, leading the company to say they are “considering options” for that part of their business. Here.

Good summary of consumer wearable tech making an impact in the construction industry. There’s quite of bit of activity going on behind the scenes with wearables in industrial safety. Here.

Medical Wearables

Google Glass got a lot of attention this week for its “resurgence” in the industrial sector. Kudos to Google for putting the product out there years ago, perhaps before the world was ready for it. Glass has been getting traction for a while in repair, warehouse, and manufacturing uses cases where heads up display can improve efficiency and safety. Here. Medical uses also seeing growth. Here.

Good summary of  the science and possibilities for vocal biomarkers that can detect disease with voice analysis. Expect to see this coming to a wearable or hearable device near you sooner than you might think. Here.

Wearable forehead patch can detect sleep apnea. Here.

Blog

How to test biometric wearables. Here.

 

 

The Week in Wearables July 10

 

Consumer Wearables

Some good points here related to focusing on use cases, not proliferation. The end business value lies in very specific use cases, not the all-embracing platforms needed to support them. Here.

Louis Vuitton launched one of the most expensive Android Wear watches to date. The watch stays true to brand, targeting world travelers with flight tracking and city guide features. Here.

On the other end of the spectrum, TicWatch launched one of the least expensive Android Wear watches to date. All the basic, expected smartwatch features appear to be there – how well they work is another question. Here.

What Jawbone’s demise can teach the fitness wearable market – accuracy and user experience matter. It sounds obvious but there’s still much work to be done in wearables on these fronts. Here.

Interesting insights from Fitbit CEO James Park on the company’s next growth areas. Here.

This article on Apple’s testing lab for the Apple Watch provides more detail than I’ve seen publicly on the scale and scope of their efforts. Here.

Good summary of how Firstbeat makes sense of wearable sensor data. Here.

Medical Wearables

Results of a definitive clinical trial show that a new, disposable diagnostic patch effectively detects obstructive sleep apnea across all severity levels. Here.

You may recall Fitbit said recently they’re going after diagnosing and monitoring sleep apnea. Here.

Interesting look at vocal biomarkers in healthcare diagnostics and prevention. Here.

Good summary of uses for VR in therapeutics, including pain management in healthcare facilities. I saw a demo of VR for pain management recently and it has huge potential to make an impact on public health on a broad scale, particularly in light of the opioid crisis. Here.

Data

Rock Health: digital health funding hits $3.5B in first half of 2017. Here.

The Week in Wearables July 3

Relatively slow news this week in the doldrums of summer…

Consumer Wearables

Fitbit’s struggles with a smartwatch reportedly continue. The company refutes the claims, but this will be very difficult to get right, particularly because they are apparently doing their own OS and app store. Here.

Another positive report from Wall Street analysts about Apple Watch and AirPods sales and momentum, saying the AirPods “probably has been the most successful product launch outside of the iPhone lineup in terms of early demand levels and media reviews in many years.” Here.

News finally came that Jawbone is being liquidated. The only surprise is how long they hung on. Here.

Medical Wearables

The Roche acquisition of mySugr was announced last week, but some additional detail emerged this week, including acquisition pricing somewhere between $75-100M. Here.

Stanford researchers have developed an algorithm to diagnose 13 different types of arrhythmia from wearable ECG data. This is similar to work being done by Cardiogram with Apple Watch data. Here.

Wearable telepathy? Former Facebook, Google X, and Intel exec claims in will be possible within 8 years with something that puts the the functionality of an MRI in a ski hat. No working prototype yet, so take it for what it’s worth. Here.

Data

With $6.5B so far, 2017 on track to be biggest digital health funding year yet. Here.

The Week in Wearables June 26

Consumer Wearables

Long-time Apple analyst Gene Munster says AirPods may drive more revenue than Apple Watch, which given the difference in price points means much higher unit volume for AirPods than Watch. My view is the AirPods will need to become much more than “wearable, augmented audio” devices to see this kind of growth. Here.

Speaking of Apple, they acquired eye-tracking company SensoMotoric Instruments (SMI) with obvious applications for AR/VR. Here.

Qualcomm announced a new Snapdragon chip that promises for power-efficient connectivity. Still work to do on the network front to make this scale, but this gets us closer to wearables that are not tied to mobile devices for key functionality. Here.

Interesting article on the next phase of growth for wearables, moving beyond the 10,000 step myth. Here.

Good overview of the use of heart rate variability in fitness and health use cases in the Wall Street Journal this week. Here.

It’s rare these days that you see a smartwatch start-up raise significant funding, but Matrix did that this week. Their key differentiator is the device is powered by body heat. It will be interesting to see how well this works and how much power and therefore functionality can be delivered. Here.

Good look at the state of the hearables market in The Guardian. Here.

Medical Wearables

The Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative (CTTI), a public-private partnership of pharma companies, academics, and regulators, including FDA, looking to create a new “gold standard” of clinical trial design using digital technology, released recommendations on the use of “digital endpoints”, including wearables. Shows progress for the relatively slow-moving pharma and clinical trials industry to adopt technologies that can help improve participation and efficacy in clinical trials. Here.

In related news, Sanofi and PAREXEL announced a collaboration to advance the use of wearables in clinical trials. Here.

Roche acquires mySugr diabetes management digital health app. Here.

The use of VR in clinical settings is advancing rapidly. Here are 15 use cases we’re seeing in action today. VR in pain management is particularly compelling given the current opioid crisis. Here.

Data

Samsung reportedly moved into second place in the consumer wearables market, passing Fitbit for the first time, according to Strategy Analytics. Here. This follows IDC’s report last week that Xiaomi and Apple had surpassed Fitbit in 1Q17 wearables sales.

The Week in Wearables June 19

Consumer Wearables

Interesting perspective here from watch retailers on smartwatch margins, which reinforces the fact that smartwatches and mechanical fashion watches are two completely animals – different economics, distribution, product lifecycles, value proposition, etc. As mechanical fashion watches take on more “smart” functionality it will be interesting to see how the dynamics shift. Here.

Future Fitbits may try to diagnose and monitor sleep apnea. This will require different sensor hardware than is currently in Fitbit’s, but the more interesting aspect is the diagnostics because it may require FDA clearance if they are making a medical claim. Unlikely they will go down that path, but it remains to be seen how the product is positioned and what exactly it’s doing. Here.

Nokia is officially killing the Withings brand, although most of it’s products will carry on with new versions and updates. Here.

Medical Wearables

New biosensor technology – known as a lab on a chip – that could be used in hand-held or wearable devices to monitor your health and exposure to dangerous bacteria, viruses and pollutants. Here.

Data

Medical wearable devices projected to grow over 26% CAGR through 2027. Here.

IDC says the global wearables market will nearly double by 2021, with over 240M units shipping in that year. Here.

More from IDC, this time VR/AR headsets which are expected to growth at 58% CAGR (off a relatively small base) over the next 5 years. 98% of the unit volume in 2016 was VR headsets. Here.

The Week in Wearables June 5

Consumer Wearables

Apple’s WWDC was big news as always. A few highlights:
– Apple Watch will now connect with gym equipment from most of the top equipment makers. Details are scarce at this point, but this appears to be a one-touch data sharing after a workout is complete. The Watch shares HR and calorie info, the gym equipment shares speed, distance, pace, and other data. Here.
– watchOS4 will support core Bluetooth in the watch, which opens up many different opportunities for the watch to connect directly with Bluetooth enables devices. One example shared by Apple was to connect Dexcom glucose monitors to the watch to display info from the CGM. Here.
– Here’s a good summary of all the wearables-related announcements from Apple this week. Here.

DC Rainmaker did an excellent analysis of the recent wearables study published by Stanford that got a lot of headlines. Among other things, this demonstrates the challenges that even the best research organizations seem to have in testing biometric wearables. Here.

Medical Wearables

Results from an Ericsson survey of over 4,500 people across 5 countries showed interesting results regarding wearables and mHealth from healthcare decision makers: “Although consumer-grade wearables are being widely used for preventative measures, 55 percent of healthcare decision makers from regulatory bodies say these devices are not sufficiently accurate or reliable for diagnosis. In addition, for liability reasons it will be very difficult to rely on patients’ smartphones for connectivity.” Much more data here.

Apple has reportedly hired Sumbul Desai, MD, executive director of the Stanford Medicine’s center for digital health to promote health uses for the Apple Watch. Here.

Another effort at a digital health tricorder. Here.

Samsung’s S-Patch 3 wearable health monitoring system could be nearing availability after FCC filing. Here.

Data

IDC released it’s quarterly data on the wearables market. A few things of interest here:
– Fitbit fell out of 1st place in market share for the first time since IDC started tracking, down to 3rd place after Apple and Xiaomi.
– Samsung doubled their unit shipment volume YOY.
– The “others” category continues to grow in market share, now up to 48% in 1Q17, up from 39% in 1Q16

Note

I’m taking a few days off this week, so The Week in Wearables will too. The newsletter will resume the week of June 19.