Search engine giant Google will soon introduce Google Fit, a new mobile platform service to collect, aggregate and analyze data from wearable health fitness tracking products and health care apps. Google's service will enter a competitive market that got larger on June 16 when WebMD launched a program to make biometric data understandable and actionable on iPhones.
Both announcements demonstrate the intense focus being paid to both the wearables and data analytics market, with even the largest of vendors hoping to get a piece of what is an enormous and growing business.
Google, which is not publicly commenting, is holding its Google I/O conference for developers on June 25-26 and has several sessions related to wearable computing, according to Forbes, which broke the story. It is not clear if Google Fit will be pre-loaded into upcoming versions of the Android platform, or if it will be an app users will be able to download independently.
WebMD Healthy Target is a fitness app available for iPhone users that will seek to explain user “step, sleep, weight and blood glucose” data. The smartphone app can help those suffering from chronic disease – such as Type 2 diabetes and obesity – as well as others that are just looking to get fit.
Also See: The reality behind wearable wellness
It was not immediately clear if employer use – including infiltration into workplace health and wellness programs – would also be targeted. However, a WebMD spokesperson tells EBN that new smartphone app is focused primarily on the consumer market.
“The time is right for a mobile app that can help translate data into life-improving insights,” says David Ziegler, director of product management for WebMD.
Individual use of smartphones and wearable tech to track health outcomes is not something new. Nearly one-third of smartphone users or about 46 million users accessed fitness and health apps in January, according to a study from Nielsen. Popular apps include FitBit, Nike+Running and Samsung’s S Health app.
Also, one in six individuals who have heard about wearables are currently using the products to improve their health.
The WebMD application can decipher statistics from wearable devices such as Entra, Fitbit, UP by Jawbone and Withings into an actionable plan for individuals. These setting up to six goals such as eating healthier to sleeping better or controlling blood sugar. Also, all habits can be tracked into an understandable data progress report that will be coaxed with personalized tips.
Other competitors to Google in the wearable device market include Samsung, with Apple and Microsoft coming in later this year, according to Forbes. This is not the first time Google has jumped big into the health information technology arena. The company in 2007 introduced Google Health, a personal health record for consumers with tools to collect and manage health information, but could not get market traction and shut it down in 2012, although customers were able to download their Google Health data until 2013.
Joseph Goedert is an editor with Health Data Management.
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