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.