The Week in Wearables May 22

Consumer Wearables

Stanford study released this week found 7 different wrist-based consumer wearables were fairly accurate in measuring heart rate, but terrible at measuring energy expenditure (calories burned). Not hugely surprising given most research in the area shows mixed results, the fact that almost every wearable device uses different inputs and formulas for measuring energy expenditure, and most importantly the massively diverse human population burns energy in different ways in different situations. Here.

Nokia and Apple settled patent litigation, Apple will resume carrying Nokia (formerly Withings) products in Apple stores, and most interestingly “Apple and Nokia are exploring future collaboration in digital health initiatives.” Here.

Samsung revealed a bendable, stretchable display that could stretch as much as 12mm that has potential to create new wearable form factors and use cases. Here.

Medical Wearables

Graphene-based wearable device has been shown by researchers to detect inflammation in lungs demonstrating potential to monitor and manage asthma. Measuring biomarkers in exhaled breath condensate — tiny liquid droplets discharged during breathing — can contribute to understanding asthma at the molecular level and lead to targeted treatment and better disease management. Here.

Good perspective from Wired Magazine on the many challenges the FDA has in regulating accelerating technology development and commercialization in health and medical devices. Here.

A wrist-based pulse-oximeter has received FDA 510K clearance to measure SpO2 and pulse rate. Unique because it uses optical technology, similar to many consumer wearables, to measure SpO2. Here.

Useful map of the medical technology ecosystem. Here.

Data

HealthMine survey with some interesting data points.
– 83% of consumers say they use digital health tools, but only 22% of health plans are utilizing the digital health data to give guidance.
– 52% of consumers with chronic conditions hear from their health plan just once per year or less about their disease
– More here.

The Week in Wearables May 15

Consumer Wearables

Google was relatively quiet about wearables and Android Wear at I/O this week, except for some intentions to improving battery life with better communications between devices and reducing background processes. Google also claimed 72% YOY growth in activations and double the number of brands running Android Wear. Here.

However, reports indicate ASUS is killing the ZenWatch line of Android Wear watches, although not terribly surprising if the volume numbers are anywhere near correct (5-6K units per month). Here.

More indications this week of Apple testing continuous glucose monitoring this week. One thing missing in the media attention around this is the fact that there is a massive difference between estimating high-level glucose changes based on blood flow (which has been proven) and getting to a level of accuracy that can be used for dosing insulin (unproven to date). Here.

Bragi launched another version of the Dash hearables and partnership with the translation app, iTranslate, for “real-time” translation. Users can let a person speak into their phone’s microphone, and then the app will send the translated speech to the earbuds and vice versa. Not sure how well this works, but shows the potential for hearables to advance user experiences in new dimensions. Here.

Medical Wearables

Interesting look at how music is being used to treat everything from Parkinson’s to Alzheimer’s to substance abuse. Look for companies incorporating hearables into this mix – listening to music while tracking biometrics, motion/activity, etc. Here.

In a recent study more than 80 percent of healthcare industry executives in the U.S. and Europe said nontraditional competitors including Apple Inc. and Fitbit Inc. will have an impact on the industry. About a quarter said the change will be “transformative” within three to five years. Here.

Using wearable thermometers has been shown to predict flu outbreaks one month faster than traditional methods in China, according to an American Journal of Public Health study. Here.

Another example of VR penetrating healthcare delivery – a VR system for treating stroke and traumatic injury victims gets FDA clearance. The system uses 3D motion tracking cameras to coordinate movement and brain function and then analyzes that data to tailor therapy that stimulates movement in non-functioning limbs. Here.

Cedars-Sinai in LA is implementing a system that pulls patient-generated health data (PGHD) into EHR’s. Physicians can order PGHD for a patient from inside the electronic health record, and can select from a menu of vital signs such as blood pressure, blood glucose level and weight, as well as behavioral metrics like medication adherence, mood and activity. Smart approach. Here.

Blog
Medical Wearables: Five Scenarios Driving Growth. Here.

The Week in Wearables May 8

Consumer Wearables

Apple acquires sleep tracking vendor Beddit. Aside from the obvious interest in sleep tracking (which is widespread at this point), this could mean they are not making meaningful progress on Apple Watch battery life, because the Watch can track almost all of what Beddit tracks (except room temp and humidity). With that said, Beddit uses ballistocardiography (BCG) to track biometric signals, which has been of interest to Apple in the past. Here.

VR heading into trough of disillusionment? IHS Markit analysts claim Samsung VR’s sales decline YOY. Here.

Fossil’s stock got crushed this week after lackluster earnings, but they claimed over $40M in wearables revenue. If their wearable ASP is $150 across all their brands, that’s over 270K unit sales, which puts them on an annual run rate near the top 5 in IDC market tracker. Here.

Microsoft announced a move into enterprise/industrial wearables, showing off a smartwatch made by TrekStor powered by Windows 10 IoT Core. Demo video Here.

Medical Wearables

Startup Cardiogram released results from a small clinical study that found that the Apple Watch combined with their algorithms detected atrial fibrillation with 97 percent accuracy, 98 percent sensitivity, and 90.2 percent specificity. Only 51 patients tested, so much more research to be done but interesting findings nonetheless. Here.

FDA is creating a digital health unit within its Center for Devices and Radiological Health in an effort to develop internal technical expertise, and streamline the agency’s software review process and regulation of medical devices.. Here.

Microsoft revealed a prototype wearable (Project Emma) that claims to help those with Parkinson’s disease reduce hand tremors by vibrating at the right time and place to “distract” the mind from creating tremors. Here.

A sign of the times that Amazon Prime (consumer distribution strategy) impacts the share price of a digital health company. Here.

UC Davis taps Healbe to validate caloric intake-tracking wearable band. I’m hugely skeptical of claims that non-invasive energy/caloric intake measurement actually works, but I’m glad to see them taking a long-term (5-year study) clinical validation approach to proving it. Here.

Data

One analyst firm is claiming Samsung’s Tizen OS has overtaken Android Wear for 2nd place in smartwatch deployments (Apple still far ahead in unit sales). If these numbers are anywhere near accurate it means big growth in the last few quarters for Samsung, which was recently in mid-single digits in smartwatch market share. Here.

The Week in Wearables May 1

Consumer Wearables

Several earnings announcements this week in wearables:
– Apple said Apple Watch sales “nearly doubled” YOY and their entire “wearables” category (which includes Beats, Apple Watch and AirPods) would be a Fortune 500 company if spun out, which puts the revenue at least $5.1B. Here.
– Fitbit exceeded their lowered earnings expectations on Wall Street, but the numbers were still ugly. They sold 3M devices in 1Q17 – down from 4.8M in 1Q16, 38% drop. US and Asia took big hits, with 52% and 63% revenue drops, respectively. Here.
– Garmin’s fitness category that includes all their wearables saw a 3.5% decline YOY in Q1. On their earnings call, Garmin CEO said the decline was due to lower-end activity trackers, which were “down sharply”. The decline was partially off-set by increases in their higher-end GPS devices. Here.

Apple Watch may have become the largest watch brand in the world by revenue. Note – largest watch brand, not watch maker. Still not as big as some of the luxury watch conglomerates, but still impressive in a very short time. Here.

One more piece of Apple news – apparently AirPods owners love them. 98% satisfaction rate. Clearly some buyers bias here, but still interesting when you consider the first iPhone had a 92% sat rate when it came out in 2007. Some other good data in this report – one point in particular: 64% of consumers somewhat disagree or strongly disagree they keep wired headphones handy just in case AirPods don’t work. Here.

Large study of 8,000 employers shows 35% of US employers are now using wearables in their employee wellness programs, up 10% since 2015. Key criteria for wearables in wellness programs (employers’ perspective): 1) app usability, 2) ability to sync with wellness vendor, 3) long battery life. Here.

Medical Wearables

The FDA’s Bakul Patel provided some insights on the FDA’s draft guidance on software as a medical device. 1,400 comments received during the open period so far have sparked debate about how to define scientific and clinical validation when software evolves so rapidly. Here.

Wide-ranging interview with Vijay Pande, A16Z’s head of their new biotech fund. Not surprisingly AI and machine learning are covered quite a bit, but some interesting perspective on pharma’s future and wearables. Worth the read. Here.

Using wearables to monitor anxiety in addition recovery patients. Tracking signs of stress through heart rate and breathing rate. Here.

Good update from Mike Feibus on recent market traction with closed-loop wearable insulin delivery devices, AKA the “artificial pancreas”. Here.

Data

Apple and Xiaomi have both overtaken Fitbit in wearables unit volume in 1Q17, according to one analyst group. Here.