10 smartwatches that may take on fitness trackers

By: Jonah Comstock | Jul 31, 2013        

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AGENTOne way or another, the wrist is going to be a consumer battlefield.

In the world of health and fitness tracking, smartphone connected devices like Fitbit Flex, Jawbone UP, and Basis Band have scoped out the wrist as the ideal place for accelerometers, pulse, and galvanic skin response sensors to give people feedback about their workouts. In the mobile computing sphere, startups like Pebble and giants like Apple alike are developing smartwatches. A smartwatch is a wirelessly-connected watch that serves as a second screen for a smartphone, located on the wrist for easy access. Or, in the case of a few startups, the smartwatch is a whole mobile computer on the wrist — no phone required. ABI Research predicts more than a million smartwatches will ship in 2013.

With only two wrists per person, which class of device is going to win out? Or, perhaps more likely, will the winning smartwatch be the one that includes health and fitness tracking capabilities? Here’s a roundup of the some of the most talked about smartwatches — on the market, coming soon, or rumored — with a special emphasis on their health and fitness tracking capabilities.


Pebble RunKeeper

The Pebble smartwatch was a Kickstarter sensation to which many tech writers have attributed the modern rise of the smartwatch. Making use of e-paper technology, the wristworn device connects via Bluetooth to Apple and Android phones to display notifications about incoming calls, text messages, emails, and social media notifications, among other things. Keep reading>>


FDA clears Ambio wireless health monitoring system

By: Neil Versel | Jul 31, 2013        

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AmbioAging in place and disease management technology developer Ambio Health has gained FDA 510(k) regulatory clearance for its flagship Ambio Remote Health Monitoring System. The system, first introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, essentially adds wireless capability to standard home health monitors and automates data collection.

Stamford, Connecticut-based Ambio is now free to sell the system in the US, and it will do so at a price point significantly lower than competitors, according to CEO Kevin Jones. The wireless gateway, which plugs into a standard home-based Ethernet router, costs $19.99 by itself or $44.97 bundled with an AgaMatrix Presto blood-glucose monitor and proprietary Ambio wireless connector. A package with a Homedics BPA-060 blood-pressure monitor is priced at $89.97.

An Ambio Health-branded digital weight scale, sold for $84.98 with a wireless gateway or $64.99 without, has the transmitter built in. Monitoring service costs $4.99 a month per device, based on an annual subscription.

Wireless connectors, which plug into the USB port of personal medical devices, sell for $19.99 each if purchased separately. “It’s meant to stay in there,” Jones said of the matchbook-size peripheral that makes home medical devices wireless and communicates with the gateway over distances far greater than the Bluetooth standard allows. Keep reading>>

Study: Proteus tracks adherence with 94 percent accuracy

By: Jonah Comstock | Jul 31, 2013        

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proteus-digital-health.top_Proteus Digital Health, the ingestible sensor company that raised $45 million in May — the largest funding raise in digital health this year so far — has published the results of a small clinical trial in a peer-reviewed journal. The study of 27 adults with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia found that the addition of an ingestible sensor to their regiment led to 67 percent of patients taking their medication within 2 hours of their designated time. The mean adherence rate was 74 percent.

The study, which was published recently in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry as an online exclusive, was conducted over four weeks in May 2011. Along with Proteus, Massachusetts General Hospital and the Zucker Hillside Hospital were collaborators.

The main purpose of the study was to test the accuracy of Proteus’s digital health feedback system, which includes the ingestible sensor pill, a patch and a mobile app. Compared to tracking adherence by observation, the ingestible sensors tracked adherence with 94 percent accuracy.

The feedback system also tracked other statistics about the users including activity and sleep. Activity among the participants ranged from 847 to 15,930 steps per day and subjects slept between 3.2 and 15.2 hours per day. The system also tracked sleep disruption — the amount patients wake up during the night — a number that could be very useful in assessing the effectiveness of medication for a condition like schizophrenia, according to the researchers. Mean sleep disruption varied from 5 percent to 43 percent over the course of the study period.

The study affirmed that Proteus’s FDA-cleared ingestible pill had few-to-no adverse affects on participants. No subjects had a worsened psychosis because of the pills. Five experienced mild skin irritation due to the patch that transmits the data from the sensor to collection devices, but none dropped out of the study because of it.

Finally, study participants were asked some questions about the digital health feedback system. Nineteen of the 27 participants (70 percent) found the system easy to understand and 24 (89 percent) thought it could be useful to them. Twenty-one (78 percent) expressed interest in having the system send reminders to them via text message if they forgot to take their medication.

Health, fitness devices to make up half of all wireless accessories shipped by 2018

By: Aditi Pai | Jul 31, 2013        

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Shipments of app-enabled smart wireless accessories will approach 170 million by the end of 2018, compared to over 18 million this year, according to a new report from Juniper Research.

Wireless accessories refers to the hardware that links to the smartphone, often via short-range wireless technology such as WiFi or Bluetooth. Some devices considered include smartwatches and smart glasses. The market entry of players such as Apple and Google will further drive the adoption of premium wearable devices, and at the same time publicizing and educating consumers, according to Juniper.


The report also found that the fitness and healthcare sector together will account for over 50 percent of the devices shipped this year and a multi-channel strategy is essential to gain traction in the race to secure a place in this new market. At that time, Juniper predicts, the market will be dominated by consumer electronics and fitness accessories, although in the longer run healthcare smart wireless accessories are expected to gain most traction.

A few weeks ago, a report from IHS found installs for sports and fitness apps, which usually accompany device accessories, are expected to grow to 248 million in 2017 from 156 million in 2012, a 60 percent rise. In May, IMS Research a subsidiary of IHS, conducted a survey that predicted sports and fitness monitors, a category with some overlap with wireless accessories, will hit 56.2 million global shipments in 2017, up from 43.8 million this year.

Additionally, an IMS survey last year found smartphone owners who exercise at least once a week and are interested in sports and fitness apps are are also willing to buy a fitness sensor that connects to an app on his or her phone. IMS interviewed around 400 consumers in the United Kingdom and the US for this survey. About 62.3 percent of the respondents said they were prepared to buy such a sports sensor.

Autism researchers get $1.2M for iPad study

By: Aditi Pai | Jul 31, 2013        

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TalkRocket Go

Autism researchers at the University of Kansas received a $1.2 million grant from National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, Communication Intervention for Preschoolers Learning to use AAC (CI-PAAC) to test iPad app to help children with social communication.

Many young children with autism have communication barriers, and while alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) provides these kids with the ability to communicate independently with adults, studies show it helps less so with the kids’ peers, according to University of Kansas assistant research professor Kathy Thiemann-Bourque.

Her work at the Juniper Gardens Children’s Project, which aims to address concerns about child development in a low-income community in Kansas City, on a related study on the topic produced successful results for peer to peer interaction using AAC.

With this grant, researchers will train 48 preschoolers with autism and 114 peers without disabilities to use an iPad voice output app. The study also involves 48 early education school staff. These interactions will help researchers determine whether the technology can improve the deficits in communication, social reciprocity and play skills typical of children on the autism spectrum. Each child with autism will have three peer partners from greater Kansas City area and Lawrence school districts for the study, which began July 1.

The study will offer researchers the substance they need to develop a manual for treatment implementation, as will a compilation of videos for parent and teacher training.

In 2009, MobiHealthNews wrote about an iPhone app, Proloquo2Go, which offers autistic children a form of communication which cost significantly less than the $8,000 to $10,000 legacy text-to-speech machines. Two years later, the app made it onto the Apple Store’s list of top apps for healthcare professionals.

A similar app, TalkRocket Go received attention last month when the Ontario Ministry of Health’s Assistive Devices Program subsidized iPads to run the app. After families visit one of the 26 Assistive Devices Program clinics in Ontario to take an assessment, the clinic recommends using TalkRocket Go as the right communication aid, and a professional can help complete paperwork to purchase the app and device at a 75 percent discount.

Ten biggest digital health investments in 2013 so far

By: Aditi Pai | Jul 30, 2013        

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Proteus Biomedical's Raisin system

Proteus Biomedical’s Raisin system

Halfway through the year, there have already been some major funding stories for mobile health companies. From wearable device companies to a mobile clinical software developer, these funding stories have mentioned trends, goals and important VCs in the field. While MobiHealthNews’ state of the industry Q1 2013 and Q2 2013 reports delve deeper into the funding stories this past year, we rounded up the top 10 funding stories this year from most funding to least.

Proteus Digital Health raises $62.5 million: Redwood City, California-based Proteus Digital Health announced in May that it had raised $62.5 million in its latest round of funding led by Oracle with participation from existing investors Otsuka, Novartis, Sino Portfolio and others. MobiHealthNews reported on the first $17.5 million that Proteus raised for this round a year ago, so the $62.5 million includes an additional $45 million raised over the course of the past year. In total, Proteus, which was founded in 2001, raised north of $170 million from a long list of investors that includes Medtronic, Itochu, St. Jude Medical, and Kaiser Permanente Ventures. Read More

NantHealth raises $31 million: Nant Health, the healthcare company that is a part of Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong’s tight-lipped NantWorks portfolio of companies, raised $31 million in two rounds of funding in January. Another NantWorks company, NantiD, which appears to be the next generation of the iVisit LookTel technology that Nant acquired a few years ago, raised an additional $15 million in funding.  Last year, Dr Soon-Shiong acquired GlowCaps-maker VitalityRead More

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