Now that some actual real things are starting to show up on the Internet of Things, I can’t help but wonder which are random mishmashes of technology, and which will profoundly change our lives. An example is the fitness bracelet; is it the next calculator watch, or a genuinely useful tool for wellness enhancement?
Two things about these electronic adornments are strikingly clear. The first is that there are lots of them competing for our attention. Microsoft, Google, Apple, Nike and a host of others have jumped into the grab-fest for wrist real-estate. Secondly, you can’t help but notice that all of the ads for these products feature young, active and already-fit people. Time will tell whether these devices will raise their fitness to a new level, or just prove that they are serious enough to drop a few more Benjamins.
So far the focus of product development and marketing has ignored a very important segment of the population. I’m not talking about the morbidly obese folks who have somehow escaped the attention of the spandex police. They will surely be sporting fitness bracelets as they proudly waddle away from the buffet line carrying a small plate of salad. Right.
The group I’m referring to is the people who need these the most, the old and/or chronically ill who have a lot to gain from monitoring stuff like blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen level, respiration rate, quality of sleep, etc. The same GPS system that allows runners to record and brag about their routes also knows the real-time whereabouts of an Alzheimer’s patient.
These customers are likely to be loyal; if you are old or suffer from a chronic illness, you don’t generally tire of the novelty and throw your monitoring device in the closet. Most of them also have insurance which might even pay the bill.
The health industry, with all its rules and regulations, tends to scare developers away, but there’s a huge opportunity waiting for someone willing to take on the challenge.