Fitbit spent $21.6M, Garmin $18.8M, Samsung $11.6M on ads for their fitness wearables in 2014

By: Aditi Pai | Jun 13, 2015        

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Kantar Media ad spend fitbitOf wearable fitness device makers, Fitbit spent the most on advertising its devices last year, investing $21.6 million, according to a recent report from Kantar Media.

Garmin and Samsung were both not far behind Fitbit in advertising spend. Garmin spent $18.7 million and Samsung spent $11.6 million. After the top three spenders there’s a significant drop in amount spent: Nike spent $3.2 million, Google spent $3.1 million, Jaybird spent $1.8 million, and Timex spent $1.7 million.

Fitbit is the only company in the top five that is private, although earlier this month, Fitbit took its first official steps toward an IPO.

Other companies on the list each spent less than $1 million on advertising fitness wearables in 2014. These companies, in descending order of spend, include Microsoft, LG, Qualcomm, Misfit, Withings, Jawbone, Adidas, Spire, and OM.

Kantar pointed out that because three companies, Fitbit, Garmin, and Samsung, make up 75 percent of the ad spending, the market is fairly concentrated.

“Google devoted 1.5 percent of [its] ad budget to its Android Wear Smartwatch, Samsung 1.7 percent to its Galaxy Gear smartwatches, and Nike 3.1 percent to its Nike+ FuelBand,” Kantar Media wrote. “For other brands for which wearable fitness devices make up the majority of their business, the shares were higher: Garmin spent 64 percent of its ad budget on wearable fitness advertising (more than it spent on its navigational equipment), and Fitbit 72 percent.”  Keep reading>>

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Startup tackles incontinence with bladder-sensing wearable

By: Aditi Pai | Jun 11, 2015        

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BrightlySan Francisco-based Lir Scientific is developing a new wearable device, called Brightly, that tracks the user’s bladder fullness to help remind people to urinate. Lir Scientific hopes the device will replace adult diapers.

Brightly is a patch, worn on the abdomen, that notifies the user with either a sound or vibration when it senses that the user needs to urinate. The device will also send an alert to the user’s smartphone via Bluetooth that reminds them to use the restroom, according to a post from Wired. The patch has a swappable battery so that users can wear it for as long as they want.

The company’s CEO and cofounder, Jean Rintoul, previously worked at Emotiv, which has developed EEG headsets, as well as activity tracker company Basis Science, which was later acquired by Intel.

Rintoul told Wired that she created a prototype device while at HAX, a hardware accelerator that has offices in San Francisco and Shenzhen, China. She also said she expects the device to sell for $400, which is much less expensive than other devices used in hospitals currently.

Rintoul explained that moving forward, she plans to launch pilots with urologists and in hospitals to test Brightly further. In hospitals, she added, the device could help alert nurses to when patients need to urinate, which would prevent them from getting bed sores from wetting the bed. Other uses cases for the device, she said, include medical imaging and measuring lung expansion.

Last year, researchers Professor Takayasu Sakurai and Professor Takao Someya from the University of Tokyo developed a flexible, disposable sensor for adult diapers. The sensor, which can detect moisture, humidity and pressure, is printed on plastic film and will transmit information wirelessly.

SwipeSense gets $9.6M for hand hygiene tracking system

By: Jonah Comstock | Jun 11, 2015        

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SwipeSenseSmart hand hygiene sensor-maker SwipeSense, based in Evanston, Illinois, has raised $9.6 million according to a new SEC filing. This brings the company’s total funding to $12.1 million. The company raised $1.7 million last May. Previous investors in the company include Jumpstart Ventures and Healthbox, which counts SwipeSense among the graduates of its very first class back in 2011.

SwipeSense offers hospitals different kinds of hand sanitizer dispensers, including a wall-mounted version and a wearable version. The sanitizers are all connected to an app that automates the manual observation reporting and also analyzes the information. Everyone in the hospital also wears a smart badge, which records hygiene events and allows the system to track individual compliance levels as well as unit comparisons and historical trends.

“The idea is to provide incentives and instigate behavior change through real-time data,” Co-founder Mert Iseri told Crain’s Chicago Business in 2013. “Employees can work towards their own goals and improvement.”

The company says its system increases hand hygiene by 64 percent for its users. Via Healthbox, SwipeSense had early trials with Northwestern Memorial Hospital, NorthShore University HealthSystem, Swedish Covenant Hospital, Mount Sinai Hospital and Rush University Medical Center, according to a 2012 Crain’s profile. SwipeSense charges clients $50 per bed plus another $99 per year. Keep reading>>

Australian researchers develop stretchy sensor for sun exposure, toxic gasses

By: Jonah Comstock | Jun 11, 2015        

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RMIT stretchable sensorResearchers at an Australian university have developed stretchable, wearable sensors that could detect both harmful toxic gasses and dangerous UV radiation.

A team at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology developed the sensors, which are made from a thin layer of zinc oxide, a material found in sunscreen, engineered into a very thin but durable patch.

“This thin zinc oxide layer is engineered with a plate-like structure that we call micro-tectonics,” Philipp Gutruf, lead author of the paper describing the sensors (recently published in the journal Small) said in a statement. “These plates can slide across each other bit like geological plates that form the earth’s crust allowing for high sensitivity and the ability to bend and flex the devices.”

The sensors could detect toxic gasses like nitrogen dioxide and hydrogen, which could be useful for protecting workers in hazardous conditions, or for helping consumers keep a look out for pollution.  Keep reading>>

McGill University to pilot engagement app for surgery patients

By: Aditi Pai | Jun 11, 2015        

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SeamlessMDMcGill University Health Center in Quebec, Canada has partnered with SeamlessMD, a company that has developed an engagement tool for surgery patients, to test the efficacy of a tablet app for enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS).

ERAS is an evidence-based program designed to ensure better care coordination, reduce care time, and reduce complications. It covers best practices related to pain medications, bed rest, and intravenous fluids among others.

The study will be conducted at McGill’s Steinberg-Bernstein Centre for Minimally Invasive Surgery and is funded by the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES).  Keep reading>>

More than 70 percent of Walgreens rewards tracking members were still active after a year

By: Aditi Pai | Jun 11, 2015        

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Walgreens Balance Rewards Healthy ChoicesMore than 70 percent of Walgreens Balance Rewards members participating in the healthy choices program with a connected device were still active in the program a year later, according to Walgreens. The retail pharmacy released data from a series of studies the company conducted in 2014, showing that their rewards program increased adherence to hypertension and diabetes medications.

One study analyzed 4,943 Walgreens Balance Rewards healthy choice members who logged activity, body weight, and blood pressure within six months of enrollment, but also filled at least one antihypertensive medication in 2014. The study found that participants who tracked blood pressure levels were 2.6 percent more adherent to their medication than those who did not. And participants’ adherence was 2.4 percent higher if they logged more than 1 mile per day than if they logged less.

Walgreens also studied 1,855 members who tracked their activity as well as certain biometrics, including body weight and blood glucose, within six months of enrolling. These members must have also filled at least one oral diabetes medication in 2014. The study found that the participants who tracked blood glucose levels were 5.4 percent more adherent to their medication than those who did not. The study also found that the adherence rate of participants who logged more than one mile per day was 7.9 percent higher than those who logged less.

Another study, which looked at data from 100,069 members over an 180-day period in 2014, found that 45.8 percent of members tracked activity and 6.2 percent of members logged their weight. Participants lost an average of 3.3 pounds, though 27.2 percent of members lost more than six pounds and 16.5 percent of members lost more than 10 pounds. This study also found that members who tracked at least one mile a day lost an average of 3.7 pounds.

Walgreens first launched its Balance Rewards healthy choices offering in September 2012. Walgreens’ service awards points for healthy behaviors, for example, setting health goals, tracking activity, logging weight, tracking prescriptions, and linking a third party device or app. In 2014, Walgreens updated the service to include behavior change expert Dr. BJ Fogg’s “Tiny Habits” methodology. As of April 2015, the Balance Rewards healthy choice offering is has reached 800,000 users and has 250,000 connected devices. Members have set 1.5 million goals and logged 73 million miles.

Earlier this week, Walgreens announced the launch of its new Apple Watch app and a forthcoming Apple Pay integration for the company’s Balance Rewards program. The Apple Watch app will help remind users to take their pills and also to refill their prescriptions when they run out.