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There are many reasons to believe that digital health solutions, as a segment, have stalled. Powerhouse companies including Google, Intel and Microsoft, had rolled out major initiatives in this space over the past seven years, but bureaucracies in the medical vertical market -- among other reasons -- have seemed to act as roadblocks to expansion and growth.
We think that’s about to change for several reasons and because of several new enabling technologies.
On the front end, iOS and Android platforms have enabled a new generation of health and fitness apps. It’s now possible, in a given morning, to:
• Wake up refreshed, thanks to startup Perfect Third’s WakeMate device. WakeMate is worn on the wrist and, via Bluetooth, connects to the iPhone. By monitoring sleep cycles, it will allow you to set an alarm and, within the vicinity of that exact time, will use analytics that include pulse rate and sleep cycle to find the optimum time to wake you up -- via iPhone alarm -- so you feel refreshed. It will also assist in monitoring sleep patterns. Among the investors in this solution is the venture firm of Lotus founder Mitch Kapor.
• Track your weight gain, maintenance or loss digitally thanks to a solution developed by Withings. By using a WiFi-supporting, digital scale you can check your weight and, wirelessly, transmit the result to a Withings account which, in turn, supports tracking by Google Health online (which can be shared with your physician). Withings is financed, in part, by Polaris Ventures, which counts Ethernet inventor Robert Metcalfe in its senior ranks. Withings has also developed an iPhone-supporting blood pressure monitor, which was slated to be released later this year.
• After you check your weight, you can make sure you keep it on the healthier side by hitting the gym or pavement and taking a run -- using the Nike + iPod solution (that also works with iPhones). With the Nike solution, a transmitter that fits into the heel of a running shoe sends workout data, including miles run and calories burned, wirelessly to the iPod or iPhone and, then, a Nike + account online. While running, the application lets you sync your favorite iPod playlists to keep you energized.
• With health management solutions like Google Health and Microsoft Health Vault, it’s now possible to aggregate much personal health data and share it seamlessly with health-care providers. The combination of patient-based digital health technology now enabled on more personal and easier-to-use platforms, and online health-care collaboration enabled by Google and Microsoft, means a new market with explosive potential.
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