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[January 04, 2014]
Fitness apps eclipse 3D televisions as more firms focus on digital health [Times of Oman]
(Times of Oman Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) SAN FRANCISCO: Samir Damani, a practicing cardiologist, hasn't really fit in at the International CES in Las Vegas, where 3D televisions, connected cars and the latest gaming consoles abound. Until this year.
As founder of MD Revolution, Damani is developing software that lets consumers monitor their health, nutrition and fitness on smartphones. At CES, formerly called the Consumer Electronics Show, he's introducing RevUp, which uses data from devices such as Fitbit's Wi-Fi scale and the Withings blood-pressure monitor and supplements it with lab tests to provide customised advice.
Of the 3,300 companies exhibiting at the conference, starting on January 7, about 300 are focused on digital health, said Gary Shapiro, president of the Consumer Electronics Association. Looking to gain customers in a market that's expected to quadruple by 2018, companies are unveiling wearable health and fitness monitors, sensors for the home and software to tie it all together, providing real-time data for consumers.
"We are really moving from a doctor-centric society to a patient-centric society," Damani said in an interview. "We are trying to give people control." CES, which last year attracted more than 152,000 people, is dedicating 40 per cent more floor space to digital health exhibitors this year than in 2013. LG Electronics is introducing a fitness band, Reebok International is showcasing a skullcap with sensors, and start-up Lively, which makes sensors for the elderly, will show technology that lets other developers link to its products.
Health challenge Even with their rising popularity, health-related wearables and fitness apps have limitations, said Nick Martin, a vice-president in the innovation and research group at insurer UnitedHealth Group. While the technology can help consumers monitor their activities and improve their habits, it won't remove the need for traditional care, he said.
"Although a personal wearable device is certainly a trend, it does not necessarily replace good old fashioned face-to-face meetings," Martin said. "We see it as a way to augment care." Since its debut in 1967, CES has been a hotspot for product introductions. That includes the videocassette recorder in 1970, the compact-disc player in 1981 and Blu-ray disc players in 2003.
"The wearables section and digital health sections are going to be huge this year," said Shapiro, whose organization runs CES.
"If participation is a judge for both markets, then it should be pretty significant."Market growth Digital health and fitness technology is just starting to gain mainstream adoption. The market will grow to as much as $8 billion in revenue by 2018 from about $2 billion in 2013, according to John Curran, a managing director at Accenture in Seattle.
This is the first year that MD Revolution will have its own exhibit at CES, after sharing space last year, Damani said.
He started the company in 2011, after realizing that he was able to reduce the number of visits patients made to his cardiology clinic when they took home blood-pressure monitors and e-mailed him the results. The line between health and fitness devices is blurring.
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