The Week in Wearables May 29

Consumer Wearables

Vibrating wearable designed to help people with visual impairments. The current form is bulky, but the function is similar to how the maps function on the Apple Watch will indicate directional change, so you can imagine the form factor rapidly scaling down into something more wearable. Here.

Fitbit released a study showing some of its devices track different stages of sleep accurately. Here.

Hearables continue to gain new capabilities and momentum in the market. Here.

Misfit announced the ability to customize the color, strap style and material on some of products. Misfit has always been ahead of the curve in recognizing that design and personalization are key elements in wearable adoption. Here.

Medical Wearables

Mary Meeker reported, among many other tech trends, that 25% of Americans own a wearable and the healthcare industry is at a “digital inflection point”. Her report is always worth the read. Here.

10 ways the internet of medical things is revolutionizing senior care. Here.

Scientists have found a way to power medical implants by harvesting energy from the human body. If this works, there’s obvious applications to wearables as well. Here.

Researchers at MIT have created biosensor inks that measure the shifts in interstitial fluid in your skin, changing color based on the levels of glucose, sodium, or pH in your body. Here.

Amazon is offering a $125,000 prize for the best use of Alexa to combat diabetes. Here.

Data

IDC’s first quarterly report on VR/AR headsets reported 2.3M units shipped in 1Q17, 98% of which were VR headsets. Samsung lead the way, despite being the only vendor that saw a decline in YOY shipments. Here.

ABI predicts the enterprise wearables market, including smartwatches, smart glasses, and wearable scanners, will exceed $55B by 2022. Here.
One Fun Thing

Wearables are now being used on farm animals. Apparently connected networks of cows, pigs, and chickens exist. Here.

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.

The Week in Wearables April 24

Consumer Wearables

Wearable start-up Whoop announced an agreement with the NFL players association. Interesting for a couple reasons: 1) The deal is with the players, not with the league, which some see as a way to at least partially level the playing field for players against teams collecting massive amounts of data about them, and 2) the deal allows players to independently monetize their data. Here.

Fitbit had a rough beginning of the week with reports of a Fitbit device that “exploded” on a woman’s wrist causing 2nd-degree burns. However, by Friday Fitbit had investigated and disputed the claims, indicating “external forces caused damage to the device”. No indication what those “external forces” were, but Fitbit must have found some very conclusive information to quickly and decisively dispute the claims. Here.

TechCrunch makes some interesting points about the challenges Android Wear is having in differentiation across hardware platforms and the increasing number of wearables makers building their own OS – Garmin, Samsung, Swatch, Ticwear, etc. Here.

Putting the Apple Watch’s progress in perspective – “These two facts are both true: Apple Watch sales are a rounding error compared to the iPhone, and Apple Watch is a smash hit compared to traditional watches and other wearable devices.” Here.

Click-bait headline, but some valid points about the next generation of wearables. Here.

Medical Wearables

Boston Children’s Hospital has developed the first health skill for Amazon Alexa-enabled devices and is putting the devices in ICU rooms. Patient-specific data is not available through the service because it’s not yet HIPAA-compliant, but AWS has HIPAA-compliant data centers, so likely headed in that direction. Here.

Wearable tech used for concussion detection, interestingly in the mouth guard, not the football helmet. Here.

Good overview of digital health progress in the UK. Here.

Microsoft announced a partnership that will create “B2B commercial grade wearable” and it will run on Windows 10 IoT Core. Here.

Data

2016 saw $6.2B invested in IoT start-ups, up from $4.2B in 2015, according to Silicon Valley VC firm Wing. There was a noticeable increase in mid-sized rounds between $5 million and $30 million, indicating follow-on rounds for these companies. Good to see investment in health wearables that are more specialized and insightful – tracking sleep, mitigating asthma, etc. Here.

The Week in Wearables April 17

Consumer Wearables

Lots of news from Facebook F8 dev conference this week. Highlights related to wearables are brain-computer interfaces and “skin hearing”. This is all very interesting lab work, but it’s many years from seeing the outside of the lab. Don’t underestimate the challenge of bringing scalable technology to market that interacts with the human body. It’s a completely different animal than software, AR, or VR. Here.

Garmin is stepping up its efforts to build a smart watch platform with its first developer conference and announced integration to IoT home automation devices. Further evidence of the convergence across sub-segments of wrist wearables – i.e. fitness watches and smart watches overlapping capabilities from different angles. Here.

Both Amazon and Google have made their voice recognition technologies available to their cloud computing customers. Here and Here. Very likely to accelerate the trend of voice as the next UI. Here (Valencell blog).

Apple is bringing a second ODM online for the Apple Watch. This is most likely for second-source risk management but China’s EDN reporting it will increase capacity “due to an optimistic sales outlook for the device.” Could be both. Either way Apple clearly not concerned about “slow” consumer adoption of smart watches. Here.

Research shows exercise is “contagious” on social networks. Fitbit figured this out years ago and it was a significant factor in their growth, but most wearables still don’t leverage social/community nearly enough. Here.

Medical Wearables

Verily started accepting applications for participation in Project Baseline, a 4-year, 10,000 person longitudinal study that is being described as “the first step on our journey to comprehensively map human health.” The study will use the “investigational” Study Watch announced last week, as well as a sleep sensor and a home hub for secure data transfer to Google. In many ways this is an experiment in the future of healthcare delivery – using discrete, continuous monitoring for proactive identification of health issues as early as possible.”What we are really aiming to do is figure out how do we identify people who have a change in their health early enough where we can make an intervention so they don’t come into the hospital.”  Here.

Researchers have developed a wearable sensor can diagnose cystic fibrosis (and potentially other diseases) by stimulating and analyzing minute amounts of sweat. “In the longer term, we want to integrate it into a smartwatch format for broad population monitoring,” They need to crawl before they walk – large scale clinical trials are next. Here.

Stanford med school experimenting with VR as a teaching tool for med students and patients. Currently this is “pre-canned” views inside a virtual human body, but this will get very interesting when existing tools like fMRI are combined with AR and ingestibles to get real-time views inside real patients. The tech exists now, the combination does not. Here.

Interesting insight on the growth in medical device clinical trials – up 63% since 2012. Here.

Data

Accenture report claims more than 70% of US consumers want to use “virtual services” to track biometrics, for follow-up appointments, or to be examined for non-emergent health issues, but only 1-in-5 people are actually receiving care virtually. Accenture estimates that applying virtual health to annual ambulatory patient encounters would save more than $7 billion worth of primary care physicians’ time each year. Here.

More data from Accenture – 91% of providers and 95% of payers say wearables are a component of their wellness and prevention IoHT solutions. Here.

The Week in Wearables April 10

Consumer Wearables

Fitbit’s smartwatch is apparently delayed due to design and production issues, particularly waterproofing and GPS antennae location. Another reminder how challenging that accurate wearables are to design and get to production. Here.

GoPro has started a trade-in program for older GoPro cameras in exchange for a discount on a new device. I wouldn’t be surprised to see wearables makers to do something similar. Tag Heuer has already done this with their Connected Watch. Here.

A study from the Annals of Internal Medicine showing mixed results on the accuracy of heart rate tracking in some fitness watches got a large amount of media coverage this week. However, the study was only 40-people and used devices that are several years old, including one that has since been recalled (Basis Peak). Here.

Another example of a consumer wearable device “saving a person’s life” by indicating a serious health condition. Imagine how many lives we’ll save when your average wearable can measure biometrics with medical-grade accuracy. Here.

Medical Wearables

Google’s Verily announced an “investigational device” for health tracking they call the Study Watch, which looks very much like a traditional watch. The device will be used in clinical research to collect “heart rate, electrocardiograms, movement data, as well as a measure of the electrical conductance of the skin.” One sign it’s clearly a research tool and not a traditional wearable – the device will not show the user any of the health and biometric data collected. Here.

Apple is working on non-invasive glucose monitoring. Huge opportunity; even bigger technical challenges to do truly non-invasive glucose monitoring with enough accuracy for guidance on insulin dosing. Here.

Garmin and Medtronic announced that activity tracking data from specific Garmin devices would be integrated with Medtronic’s remote patient monitoring platform. Here.

However, while patient generated data has great potential to positively impact healthcare delivery, but there are still a lot of work to do in getting the right data to the right place at the right time. Here.

Following more than 5 years of competition, the Tricorder X prize was awarded this week. Not surprisingly the winner and runner-up devices rely heavily on biometrics sensors and AI. Here.

Data

Forrester predicts 189M wearables sold per year by 2022. Here.

Here’s a fun one from the UK: wearable tech helps fuel 42% rise in exam cheating by university students. Here.

The Week in Wearables April 3

Consumer Wearables

The hardware makers in Shenzhen, once accused of copycatting wearables makers in the West, are feeling the competitive heat from the Shenzhen ecosystem that created them. Here.

Microsoft withdrew from the hardware side of the wearables market in 2016, but showed they’re still involved in the wearables market by licensing their smartwatch patent portfolio to Casio this week. The agreement includes “broad coverage for smartwatch technologies.” Casio’s smartwatches to date have used a customized version of Android Wear, but too early to tell if this represents a change in that strategy. Here.

Elon Musk is backing Neuralink aimed at building an implantable device in the brain aimed at “a closer merger of biological intelligence and digital intelligence.” The company is still very early stage with no public presence of any kind at this point. Here.

Blackberry announced they are expanding their licensing strategy to other endpoints that “could include tablets, wearables, medical devices, appliances, point-of-sale terminals and other smartphones.” Here.

NTT is trying to create a wearable that estimates calories consumed with a wearable. I’m skeptical this will ever work with any meaningful accuracy. Here.

Sweat analysis is becoming a big area of development in high-performance wearables, but it’s still early and we need to see much more validation of the technology for specific use cases. Here.

Medical Wearables

Perfectly healthy people are using continuous glucose monitors for biohacking. Here.

Can “digital therapeutics” be as good as drugs? Unclear at this point, but it’s good to see companies pursuing clinical validation of digital therapies whether they need FDA clearance or not. Here.

“Digital therapeutics” may not (currently) require FDA clearance, but the state courts are stepping in where digital health app makers are making claims they can’t support. Here.

Wearable medical device has been shown to significantly extended survival in patients with newly diagnosed glioblastoma when given in combination with standard chemotherapy. Noteworthy because its the first time in 10 years any form of treatment has shown the ability to improve survival rates for this disease. Here.

Driven by new incentives in value-based care, “virtual physical therapy” is growing using wearables to track adherence and progress in post-acute care following joint replacement. Here.

Data

Low cost fitness trackers from GOQII and Xiaomi dominate the India market. Here.

The Week in Wearables March 27

Consumer Wearables

This one is from a couple weeks ago, but I just found it. Levi’s and Google introduced their new “wearable tech” jacket at SXSW a few weeks ago. This is another early example that wearables are not just smartwatches and fitness bands. This is targeted at “bike commuters” right now to test the waters and work out the kinks, but you can see how it could easily expand beyond that. Another interesting note is that they added this technology integration into the existing fashion supply chain and didn’t create a new one, which enables expansion and diversification of fashions and use cases to happen much faster. Here.

Apple Watch rumors indicate the next version of the Apple Watch may include a SIM card and “interoperability” with Airpods hearables, which would enable independence from the phone, assuming battery life remains the same or better. This is a logical next step and potentially powerful user experience, but it remains to be seen if they can overcome battery limitations and potential size constraints in the watch. Here.

Following all the luxury smartwatch announcements coming out of Baselworld 2017, The Verge makes the point that Android Wear 2.0 has made it “trivially easy” for fashion companies to make tech products. True enough, but it remains to be seen if these companies are able to differentiate purely on brand, particularly in the watches that have all-digital faces that look the same (Android Wear 2.0), compared to mechanical movements in hybrid smartwatches that can claim at least some differentiation in craftsmanship. Here.

Samsung is launching what amounts to a contactless payment system on an NFC chip. The most interesting thing here is the ability to pre-load “cash” onto the chip, which potentially opens up new markets and user groups that may not have credit cards or bank accounts. Here.

Adidas is launching a fitness tracker targeted to women. Smart move – there is a huge gap in the market right now in wearables targeted to women. Here.

Medical Wearables

Nvidia is doubling down on AI in medicine, particularly in applying deep learning to medical imaging, Not surprising, given AI’s significant early traction in this area and the massive potential for impacting public health, particularly in developing countries where medical expertise tends to be more scarce. Here.

A 50-person study has demonstrated the VR “significantly” reduces pain and is an effective therapy for pain management. Obviously more extensive study needed here, but promising results. Here.

A move to make hearing aids available over-the-counter is underway in the US Congress, which would open up new possibilities for hearing aid companies as well as hearables companies focused on hearing augmentation. Doppler Labs, for example, is a big proponent. Here.

Doctors at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, MA are using Google Glass as a standard part of doctors rounds. The hospital installs unique QR codes on the door to every hospital room, so when the doctor enters the room, the patients chart and medical records are automatically pulled up on the Google Glass screen. Here.

Buried in the Samsung S8 announcement this week was an interesting feature of the Samsung Health app – telemedicine capabilities in partnership with American Well. Users can connect to a board-certified physician for $59 per “visit” without insurance. Here.

Blog

Wearables market will evolve like the apparel industry. Here.