Philip Ellis
News & Views
Mobile health meets wearable tech

This time last year we took a look at the booming digital health and fitness industry, an area which has experienced similarly encouraging growth in 2013. Over 100,000 mobile health apps are now available; that’s more than 4 million free downloads every day, on just the ten most popular apps. This year has also seen a logical dovetail between mobile health apps and wearable technology, with the Consumer Electrics Association reporting that consumer interest in wearable fitness devices has risen fourfold since 2012.

This week, creative start-up Focus announced the release of Trainr, the first fitness app to provide customised training programmes, essentially turning the user’s smartwatch into a personal trainer. The blurb on the Focus website claims that Trainr is “evolving the wrist device” through “auto tracking, training and analysis for workouts.” As more and more companies begin to offer financial incentives in return for employees’ active participation in health and wellness activities, it probably won’t be long before Trainr gets some company in this new space.

So what is the next big digital health trend we should be keeping an eye out for in 2014? The answer; smart clothes. According to a recent Mashable post, wearable tech will soon evolve beyond the current standard clunky-looking wristband into “smart garments”, with sales of up to $2million expected by as soon as 2018.

It is the way of the tech world that what was once cutting edge will eventually make its way into a broader commercial market, and Stacey Burr, Vice President of Wearable Sports Electronics at Adidas, believes that wearable fitness tech is no different: “Technology innovations used by professional sports teams, like the miCoach Elite smart sensor shirt used by every team across Major League Soccer, will be the same technology in 2014 to help fitness and wellness participants get healthy.”

OMSignal is one firm leading the innovation in the smart clothes space, embedding sensors in apparel to enable the wearer to monitor his or her own heart rate and breathing patterns. “When you think about it, clothing is the original wearable [technology],” says Stephane Marceau, CEO of OMSignal. “We’re going to see technology integrated directly into our clothing – first through sensors, but eventually it will be weaved into the fibres.”

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