I hope you find it informative.
Here’s my second installment from the Quantified Self Expo in San Francisco over the weekend. It’s too bad I have other work to do because I could write about this all day.
I have a few specific posts in the queue following up on some of these themes, it was a great expo and I am already looking forward to next year.
My notes from the Quantified Self expo in San Francisco will require two posts, so here’s Part I, with an emphasis on topics that might be of interest to trainers, fitness center managers, and coaches:
The Palace of Fine Arts was home to the Wearable World Congress expo this week so I made the drive to the city to look around. It was a smaller expo than I expected but I had several interesting conversations and saw a few interesting products and platforms. Wearable World recently became part of the ReadWrite media organization and is one of my go-to sources for news.
1. Muse – they’ve been shipping their brain sensing headband since last summer and I had an interesting chat with Andrew Parr, a pro golfer who works for Muse to take the capabilities of the device to the golf course to improve mental focus during competition. I’ve long been interested in the nervous system as the next great frontier in sports training and we are just now getting the devices and data in place to be able to push this forward. Combined with an understanding of breathing patterns, HRV, and muscle activation patterns there is really a lot of progress to be made here.
2. Nuheara – billed as the world’s first “adaptive augmented hearables”, they are building out a software + hardware platform for a slick looking, wireless set of earbuds that are smartphone controlled and offer a ton of features. They really want to more seamlessly merge your physical, digital, and auditory experiences. The device is still about a year out from production, and the team is based in Perth, Australia. Surely they win the longest plane flight prize for the conference.
3. Panasonic – GoPro must be watching out as the cameras Panasonic showed off were incredibly small, light, and immaculately made – three things the Japanese still do as well as anyone. They had a new one that’s not yet released which weighs 45 grams including the battery and built in WiFi. Here’s the wired older version that’s already on the market. Having raced mountain bikes through the night in many 24 hour races with a headlight on my helmet, I can tell you that small & light wins the day in helmet mounted devices. If I were shopping for one, I’d definitely give Panasonic a look.
4. Ayo – Anyone who has read the Four Hour Body knows about blue light as a way to regulate energy and sleep patterns. Ayo’s product looks like the top 2/3 of a pair of eyeglasses, but with little blue lights to stimulate your eyes and bump up your energy and help you regulate melatonin production and fight jetlag. Assuming you don’t already wear glasses (like I do), you can wear these while working or doing household chores, so you needn’t be stationary with a blue light shining at you.
5. The Wearables Store – pretty simple, a e-commerce shop devoted to wearables. Some new stuff there but there were enough important brands missing that we can’t call it a superstore just yet. Speaking of webstores, at the Muse site I found the mindTec store which is focused exclusively on bio and neuro-feedback products.
6. Strap – Unfortunately I did not get to speak to anyone at their booth, because these guys are going after exactly the problem I wrote about a few weeks back – namely, how do companies extract the massive marketing value of all these wearable devices to drive better customer engagement. The goal of their platform is to make wearable data accessible and meaningful to marketers, although the list of compatible devices/services they identify on their website is pretty short and I did not see any talk of an API for developers to use to leverage their capabilities. Definitely one to keep an eye on though.
7. meMINI – another take on the wearable camera. The idea is that you video your whole life and tap the device to tell it when something interesting happened, so that snippet of video gets sent to the cloud and everything else is erased. Seems pretty handy for skiing and other outdoors events where you need a small camera (their device was a bit bigger than a matchbox) and don’t want to comb through hours of video when you’re done having your fun.
8. Amby – a watch for your kids to wear so you can keep track of them and interact with them. It’s a wearable designed for the kids to wear but give the parents piece of mind.
Beyond specific devices, I was reminded of the importance of crowdfunding in driving wearable innovation forward, and of how great it is to live in San Francisco or Silicon Valley. Several international companies had only one employee in the US, and they were almost always located in Northern California. This event was obviously no substitute for CES and its more comprehensive set of vendors, but if you want to keep an eye on what’s new and not yet on the market, it’s worth it.
With so many product launches and so much investment activity in the digital health & fitness arena it helps to have a framework for understanding the meaning of it all. This post is the first in a series in which I’ll share the frameworks I use, with a few notes on some of the companies I see doing really interesting work across the entire ecosystem.
I always start by considering any new product or technology with a behavioral emphasis. At the end of the day, it’s consumer/patient/athlete behavior that really matters when we talk about improving health, reducing costs, or improving performance. I have another framework to look at things from a technology stack perspective which I’ll share in the next installment.
I’ve run this simple diagram by countless people, inside and outside the fitness-tech arena, and everyone seems to get it right away, so it’s been useful for me. It’s simple, and maybe obvious, but I always find it worth stating.
This picture is informed more by my background as a coach, athlete, and lifestyle design enthusiast than by any market study or tech trends. The Action step is where the rubber meets the road, but it’s hard, complicated, and can take a long time to move the needle. It’s also influenced by many factors beyond the fitness or health care arena.
A lot has been written about wearables, so I won’t say much about the data collection step. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, it’s really not the things that are interesting but the data they provide and the services they enable.
When I consider Expertise + Analytics box I’m including machines & people. Some users are curious and enthusiastic enough to dig into physiology and learn how to interpret their own data, but that’s a fraction of the fraction of people who actually keep using their wearables (the percentage may be high, or maybe not), so the emphasis here needs to be on professional service providers of one sort or another. IBM’s Watson and health focused providers like Vivametrica, and even more niche companies analyzing specific data sets like power data from bicycles are all contributors to the more algorithmic, machine based contribution the to this arena.
Finally, motivation is critical and many social, financial, mental health and other factors play into this. It’s surely the hardest nut to crack and it’s also where a lot of the personalization of health care comes into play. Some of the most interesting apps focus in this area so I’ll devote a whole post to this soon. The opportunity for fitness clubs and other activity-related social groups to contribute here and leverage the technologies already on the market is substantial, and I believe still vastly underutilized.
As always, I welcome your comments and feedback via email or the comments section. Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn to make sure you get all the updates to the blog and subsequent articles in the series.
Many years ago as I was transitioning out of the military into civilian life, I worked with a recruiting firm that placed JMO’s (junior military officers) into corporate America. At one of their career fairs Roger Cameron asked everyone to share their favorite motivational saying and we all went around the room. You can guess that in a room full of young, ambitious military guys (it was probably a 90% male group) the contributions ranged from inspirational to blustery, some as short as one emphatic syllable . I hadn’t given the question any real thought and when it came my turn, I reflexively blurted out the ancient Greek aphorism “Know thyself“. It sort of fell flat in that room, like I was answering the wrong question or something. Twenty plus years later I see the truth revealed in how I answered that question, as self-knowledge has been one of my strengths and great stumbling blocks. I’m old enough to see the experiences in my life where it’s been one or the other.
With that in mind, my recommended reading for this month is Peter Drucker’s timeless HBR article, Managing Oneself. At the foundation of managing oneself is knowing oneself, and this article addresses the topic in some specific areas that are important at any stage of life or career. It’s worth your time to read the article but more importantly, turn it into a homework assignment and write down answers to the questions posed. I did it about a year ago and I still refer to the notes occasionally to make sure I got it right and that I am working on the right things.
I spent a day this week in the city (that’s San Francisco for those of you not in the “Bay area”) and besides the fabulous weather I enjoyed meeting with the head of biz dev at one of the industry’s hottest fit-tech/wearables companies, as well as checking out the Marketo Summit. In case you don’t know who Marketo are, they are one of the leaders in marketing automation. When you get an email from a company every month and the content is tailored based on the products you’ve ordered before, or when you click a web page and a few days letter magically get an email offer for the product you looked at, that capability is provided by some marketing automation solution.
Marketing automation tools rely on insight into customer behavior. This can come from lots of sources – social media, data providers (it’s a bit scary how much data about you is for sale), records of buying behavior, as well as more direct interactions with the customer, such as click behavior on your website, engagement with customer support, etc. One of my guiding viewpoints is that all that data being generated by fitness wearables presents a huge opportunity to gain customer insight, and although the Marketo show was a very horizontally targeted I did not see anyone talking about this opportunity. One challenge is getting the customer to agree to give you access to the data – but if you are a trusted advisor (say a gym with personal trainers who can use the data to help the customer) that’s a surmountable challenge. And if your marketing is smart and value-added, it will be well received. This is an area of ongoing study for me, so I hope to share more on it as I go.
As long as I’m sharing info on what I learned at the show, here’s a handful of other (somewhat random) companies I checked out that I found interesting for one reason or another:
Elixiter – Marketo consultants / implementation experts. Based in Montana, tech center of the US. Ha ha. Seriously, I bet they all have a better quality of life than 99% of the people in Silicon Valley.
Spear Marketing – Just some nice guys in the marketing business.
Inside View – data aggregation to drive better customer insights and lead scoring. B2B focused. These guys provide a lot of that user data that I mentioned above to help you mage your sales funnel and do lead scoring.
Sprinklr – Hootsuite for the enterprise.
PFL – they merge your online and offline with mailers and other customer engagement tools.
LeadMD – Scottsdale based Marketo (and Salesforce) implementation consultants. If you are considering moving business apps to the cloud but think you need help, there’s a whole ecosystem of companies who can help you. LeadMD is one such company.
I’ve spent a lot of time researching SaaS apps that can help you manage your business, and it’s certainly a big and often confusing market. It helps to have some guides and while I haven’t found a single one that covers it all, there are a few I found that are really useful. Here they are, with a few of my own comments.
Getapp – one of the best, with lots of customer reviews. Broad set of product categories.
ISV World – Cool service, covers all software vendors not just SaaS apps. Useful for those in the analyst & investment arena as it aggregates financial data on the vendors. Thanks to their machine learning capabilities the database is very large.
Merchant Maverick – More focused on the transaction and financial apps, especially merchant accounts and POS.
Capterra – Decent number of customer reviews and 300+ categories to help you search.
Cloud Showplace – Run by SaaS thought leader Jeff Kaplan, this directory splits up providers into the SaaS/PaaS/IaaS stack so it provides a view on the “cloud services” market that some of the others don’t.
IT Centralstation – A bit more of an enterprise focus with more input from “IT pros” as opposed to SMB owner/operators who lack IT staff. You can create a free account or sign in with your LinkedIn account.
And there you have it. A few really helpful resources to help you navigate the SaaS world.
“When you look at the Internet of Things, the things themselves are not interesting,” said Dave Sobel, director of Community at MAXfocus and a self-professed IoT enthusiast. “We’re all focused on the ‘things,’ but that’s not where the opportunity is.”
That’s a quote from an article on The VAR Guy, and I could not agree more. The article is interesting on its own (I’ll share some thoughts later on cloud services, IoT, and the channel) and if you are trying to get your hands around IoT and what it means to business, it’s worth a read. For today I wanted to share a few thoughts that this quote generated in my head.
1. Running shoes – what happens when they are instrumented? When the data from the shoes (pressure maps, gait data) get integrated with other info (running mileage, terrain)? Suddenly your running shoe retailer (or your gym, or your coach, or whoever you allow) has tremendous insight into when you need to replace your shoes, what type of shoe will work best for you, muscular imbalances you might need to work on, etc.
2. Gym equipment – Combine a beacon on the equipment with a wearable and instrumentation on the machine to automatically log the user’s reps and upload them to a service for tracking exercise. Integrate the coach or trainer in the gym into this loop for a rich and very sticky engagement with the customer. Imagine all the marketing value of knowing which members are using which equipment, and overlaying that on their class attendance and demographics.
3. Sleep data – Mash up your sleep data from a wearable from the temperature data on your Nest (lots of data point to the connection between temperature and sleep quality). It sounds great but what’s important is how the thing (thermometer) enables a better life (better sleep = better life, no two ways about it). Let the athletic coach or health care expert see these data so they can understand how they might impact response to medication or training load.
Selling things is getting less and less interesting as a business. If you are in retail, and you really view your role as just having a thing on the shelf for someone to walk in and buy, you are competing directly with Amazon, Walmart, and every other e-commerce site that exchanges things for money. Being close to the customer and building a comprehensive relationship with them means being able to leverage the data from the things more effectively than a far-away website and truly move from selling a product to providing a service.
I’d love to hear your favorite ideas for how to merge user data and device data to deliver better solutions to customers.