Breaking: Jawbone acquires BodyMedia

By: Jonah Comstock | Apr 30, 2013        

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The BodyMedia Core 2 Armband, with "jewelry-like" customization.

The BodyMedia Core 2 Armband, with "jewelry-like" customization.

In the biggest digital health acquisition of the year so far, San Francisco-based Jawbone is acquiring Pittsburgh-based BodyMedia, the company announced this morning. Financial details of the deal have not been disclosed. This is the first major consolidation in the contentious wearable activity tracker space, and the second mobile health acquisition by Jawbone, which bought health app startup Massive Health for an undisclosed sum in February.

BodyMedia CEO Christine Robins will stay on as general manager of the BodyMedia brand and VP of Health and Wellness Business Development at Jawbone, and Jawbone will continue to sell and support existing BodyMedia products, BodyMedia told MobiHealthNews.

Jawbone and BodyMedia were both founded in 1999, though Jawbone only entered the mobile health space in 2011, with the launch of its original UP bracelet tracker. Prior to that the company focused on Bluetooth speakers, an offering that still makes up the bulk of their business. The first version of UP was discontinued with a voluntary refund after numerous user complaints, and the company has only been a serious contender in the health tracking space since its relaunch last November. Since then, the company has been aggressively developing, iterating, and — increasingly — acquiring in an effort to compete with the likes of Nike+ and Fitbit. Most recently, Jawbone launched an Android app and announced plans to market the UP in Europe and other international markets.

Ben Rubin, founder of the now-defunct sleep health company Zeo, pegged BodyMedia as a likely candidate for acquisition in an interview with MobiHealthNews back in 2011. At that time, the company claimed to have more than 700,000 users. The other factor that made BodyMedia a likely target for acquisitions was its wealth of intellectual property — the company currently holds 87 patents, most related to wireless sensors and wearable monitors. Additionally, BodyMedia has 14 years of user data.

“[BodyMedia] has amassed one of the largest living databases of raw and real-world human sensor data from its patented multi-sensor body monitors with over 500 trillion sensor points collected and analyzed over the company’s history,” the companies wrote in a joint press release.

Additionally, partnerships have always been a major part of BodyMedia’s strategy, offering white-labeled versions of its FIT Armband through partnerships with companies like Jenny Craig and Apex Gyms. Perhaps the company’s highest-profile deal was the it’s inclusion on two non-consecutive seasons of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser.” BodyMedia told MobiHealthNews that partnership would continue into the foreseeable future. In January, the company partnered with Cigna on an employee pilot using its devices for diabetes prevention.

With its FIT Armband FDA-cleared as a Class II device (a distinction BodyMedia alone holds in the wearable tracking space), the company has always maintained that its focus is not on the fitness enthusiast or the casual wellness tracker. Instead, BodyMedia has focused on creating devices for people with chronic weight problems looking to solve them and prevent complications like diabetes. Even when the company announced a more fashion-forward version of its armband at CES this year (a move with a nod toward Jawbone’s focus on aesthetic design), CEO Christine Robins maintained that their mission hadn’t changed, and they weren’t targeting the casual exerciser.

The Core 2 was set to launch later this year, as was the Vue Patch, a disposable adhesive sensor. It’s unclear whether these products will still launch on schedule or at all in light of the acquisition.

So far, Jawbone’s acquisition of Massive Health has seemed to shake out as more of a talent grab, with no immediate changes to Jawbone’s offerings. But Jawbone CEO Hosain Rahman’s statement to the press seems to suggest more of a partnership coming out of this BodyMedia acquisition: Keep reading>>


MobiHealthNews publishes State of the Industry Q1 2013 Report

By: Brian Dolan | Apr 30, 2013        

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Q1_2013_Thumb_260cAs we do at the end of every quarter, this month MobiHealthNews published our State of the Industry report for Q1 2013. The report not only includes a round-up of the mobile health startups that received investments during the first three months of the year, but also a collection of all the deals and partnerships MobiHealthNews reported on during those months. Our newest quarterly report kicks off with a discussion of the most important trends that emerged in the first quarter and includes a comprehensive discussion of the dozens of new top-line digital health metrics publicly released by data research companies.

The Q1 report also includes discussions of the most important mobile health news and announcements from health plans, healthcare providers, pharma companies, mobile operators, government agencies, and — for the first time — healthcare accelerators and incubators. While the healthcare accelerator trend ramped up throughout 2012, it became clear by the end of March 2013 that the group deserved its own chapter in our quarterly reports.

Another new — and long requested — addition to our Q1 2013 report are linkbacks. Our aim was to include a source link for each and every MobiHealthNews story that we referenced in the report, which makes the document even more of a compass for those looking to revisit mobile health news in the first three months of 2013.

Head on over to the MobiHealthNews Research Store to get a copy of this must-read report today!

Hires: Jawbone taps Yahoo’s Mayer; Lauderdale now leads Voalte

By: Aditi Pai | Apr 30, 2013        


marissa-mayer-thmbYahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has joined Jawbone as nonexecutive director, according to All Things D. Jawbone’s UP is an activity tracking bracelet that records eating and sleeping data as well as other lifestyle information. In February, Jawbone acquired Massive Health, a mobile health design and software company, to improve UP.

Voalte promoted company founder Trey Lauderdale to president as part of their expanding executive management team. Lauderdale was previously the VP of . Founded in 2008, Voalte’s iOS-based offering combines high-definition voice calls, critical care alarms and presence-based text features and is intended for use by staff in acute care hospitals. Last October, Voalte raised $6 million with the goal of adding 100 new employees to the company.

Polaris Partners added former Free & Clear CEO Tim Kilgallon to their west coast office as CEO-in-Residence. Kilgallon was formerly the president of Applied Discovery and CEO of Pointshare Corporation.

Investment Firm firm Aberdare Ventures hired Mohit Kaushal MD as a new partner of an effort to evolve its company strategy in a shift towards digital health. Before this, Kaushal served as CSO and EVP at West Health.

AirStrip, mVisum settle patent lawsuit with no licensing deal

By: Brian Dolan | Apr 30, 2013        

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AirStrip Cardiology iPad

AirStrip Cardiology iPad

San Antonio, Texas-based Airstrip and Camden, NJ-based mVisum recently announced that they had settled the lawsuit AirStrip brought against mVisum in October 2012 for allegedly infringing on AirStrip’s patent for remote monitoring of patient medical data on smartphones. The settlement will see mVisum continuing to sell its products as long as those products aren’t violating AirStrip’s patent, which it first announced in August 2012.

Specifically, mVisum stated that it will not offer products that include the “streaming or displaying of real time or near real-time patient physiological data, and products that compress, cache, or buffer patient physiological data on a smartphone or tablet.”

AirStrip stated that it has withdrawn its legal action and that neither company is licensing IP from the other. Originally, AirStrip had asked for an injunction barring future infringement, triple damages, and attorneys’ fees in its suit against mVisum, but no specific details around how much if any money changed hands as part of the settlement.

In a column for MobiHealthNews last October, patent lawyer Orion Armon, who is part of the IP Litigation practice group at Cooley, wrote that: “AirStrip’s and Robert Bosch Healthcare’s actions are notable because they seem to indicate that mHealth companies are becoming more assertive about their patent rights. Loudly advertising patent rights and filing patent infringement lawsuits tends to create insecurities in competitors that may spark patent arms races or precipitate business disputes that result in additional litigation.”

Just a few days after the companies announced the settlement, mVisum issued another press release to announce that it had been award five new patents in recent months: “These [five] patents include various aspects of technologies for mVisum’s event driven communication and platform-independent data review capabilities adding to the previous [two] patents allowed in 2011 and 2012,” the company wrote.

Despite the settlement, there are no apparent changes to mVisum’s product page on its website.

“In addition to the rise in litigation, the settlement also says something about the strength of AirStrip’s patent,” Armon told MobiHealthNews via email. “Any time an alleged infringer agrees to remove functionality from its products, it tends to suggest that the patent at issue deserves some respect. Of course, on the other hand, if the allegedly infringing features were unimportant or unused, the agreement may simply reflect that mVisum doesn’t care about them, or that it has a different/better approach that it intends to implement as a design-around.”

Armon is just speculating but he suggests: “At this early stage in the litigation, I’d be more inclined to reach the second conclusion, but the next alleged infringer better watch out – AirStrip will point to this outcome as a basis for arguing that it should obtain a permanent injunction if it wins at trial. At the very least, a credible argument for injunctive relief tends to drive up the cost of a license.”

With $1.6M, Moves offers all-day tracking app

By: Jonah Comstock | Apr 29, 2013        

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MovesA new player has entered the already-crowded activity tracking field, with no $100 device to plug in, charge or sync. Moves, from Finnish startup ProtoGeo, is an activity tracker, but it takes the form of a free iPhone app rather than a wearable device, using a smartphone’s built-in accelerometer and GPS to track movement continuously throughout the day.

The app has had 1.5 million downloads since its January launch, Designer CEO Sampo Karjalainen told MobiHealthNews in an interview. The company also raised $1.6 million in seed funding in January, led by Lifeline Ventures and PROFounders Capital.

The lack of a device offers a significant cost improvement over wearable devices (in fact, the app is free), as well being arguably more convenient for continuous use. The app runs continuously in the background of the phone, which also makes it a discreet tracker for people who might want to track their activity but not broadcast that they’re doing so. And anecdotally, GigaOm’s Eliza Kern wrote that the app returned nearly identical data about a day’s movement to her Fitbit.

Still, there are reasons people who use a Nike Fuelband or a Fitbit wouldn’t want to switch to an app. To use Moves, the user has to have their phone in their pocket or somehow on their person, which runners and cyclists won’t always do during a workout — a wristworn or clip-on device might be more convenient. Certainly it’s not much of an option for swimmers. The app doesn’t track sleep or diet at all. Additionally, for tracking a particular run, Karjalainen admits an app like RunKeeper might be more accurate.

But the target audience for Moves is not necessarily runners tracking their workout, but people wanting to track the totality of their daily movement. The app’s interface shows a timeline of all of a user’s movement for the day, including public transport and driving as well as walking and cycling. Because the phone also collects GPS data, it can also give the user a location map of their day. Even though tracking public transportation and driving doesn’t tell a user anything about their activity, it can illustrate opportunities to move more in their daily life.

“In general we are happy to see it really works for the target users,” said Karjalainen. “They kind of see how much they actually move and make small changes in their habits — park the car a little bit farther away and take lunchtime walks. That’s really great. It’s collecting a new type of a dataset — all-day data about your activities and places you’ve been to, and that’s something the Quantified Self and diary type users have really liked.”

The biggest challenge for the company, Karjalainen said, was that background monitoring is potentially a huge drain on an iPhone’s battery. But the company says it has resolved that issue by activating the sensors and, especially, the GPS, only intermittently, to achieve the optimal balance between high accuracy and low power usage.

The next step is to develop the app for Android, which Karjalainen said the company is aiming to do as soon as possible. In addition, they’ve begun to talk to employee wellness programs about offering the app B2B.

“We are kind of now learning how this fits into the bigger picture of wellness and health and the whole ecosystem. Some of these corporate wellness companies are providing gadgets to their customers, but it’s a behavior change to remember to carry and charge one more gadget. [An app] is more convenient for everyone and we think Moves can be a great tool for that.”

Karjalainen said users have responded positively to the design of the app, as well.

“People like the fact that it asks for so little and collects so much,” he said.

Survey: 31 percent of doctors make Rx decisions from smartphones

By: Brian Dolan | Apr 29, 2013        

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Kantar Media Physician Tablet AdoptionNearly three-quarters of physicians in the United States are using their smartphones at work, according to a March 2013 survey conducted by ad agency WPP’s Kantar Media. The survey of more than 3,000 physicians representing 21 specialties found that 74 percent said they were using their smartphones for professional purposes. The 2012 study found that about 68 percent of physicians were using their smartphones at work and 64 percent were in 2011.

About 38 percent of those physicians surveyed said they use both their smartphone and tablet for their jobs, too.

Kantar found that 43 percent of all physicians surveyed reported that they look up reference drug data on their smartphones, which marks a 13 percent increase over last year’s survey results. The survey also found that 39 percent of all physicians surveyed said they use their smartphones to find and perform clinical calculations, which marked a 4 percent increase over last year. Finally, about 31 percent of all physicians said they made prescribing decisions from their smartphones, up from about 21 percent last year.

Manhattan Research recently announced results from its annual survey of trends in physician technology adoption: It found 72 percent of physicians in the US now have tablets — that’s up from about 30 percent of physicians toting tablets in 2011.