Smartwatches and the battle for your health

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With the release of Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smartwatch, we can finally say the Smartwatch Wars have effectively begun.

While Sony has already released a smartwatch, and several other projects have been launched like Pebble, Samsung has effectively been the first major mobile company to enter the field.

 

While the smartwatch offers the ability to sync with a smart device (e.g. smartphone, tablet computer) and serve as an adjunct tethered tool, it may play a significant role in healthcare due to several features. Aside from the built in microphones, 1.9-megapixel camera, and speaker, there is the built in gyroscope and accelerometer.

Effectively becoming a pedometer, the Galaxy Gear has the opportunity to drive out other currently available physical activity trackers such as Fitbit, Nike+ FuelBand, and others. Competitors and future entries into the smartwatch market will not overlook this fact, and will most likely incorporate similar features as the Galaxy Gear and expand on it.

So what role will the Galaxy Gear play in healthcare?

It has the potential to become an effective tool for health trackers, as an adaptive way to capture physical activities. This is especially the case with those who enjoy the apps RunKeeper and Runtastic Pro, who will soon incorporate the Galaxy Gear into their app. As smartphones play a major role in a user’s life, replacing other fitness trackers with a smart watch that does other additional functions may be a large selling point. Pebble also has the ability to record activity; however, it lacks in features in terms of a color screen, touch screen, speakers, and a camera.

There are some problems, though. The selling price may be the largest drawback for some users, with a price tag of $299. This may throw off some early adopters. Coupled with the fact that the Galaxy Gear is only able to function with other Galaxy devices, this limits the overall number of users and decreases the incentive for developers to create apps for it. In comparison to the Galaxy Gear, the Sony Smartwatch is $199 and the Pebble is $150. These devices are also capable of syncing with a greater variety of smartphones than the Galaxy Gear.

Additionally, both devices outshine the Galaxy Gear’s 1-day battery life. Even Fitbit CEO James Park has indicated that his devices are becoming more of a smartwatch, especially with their recently announced Fitbit Force, at $130. Capitalizing on the integration with a smartphone, the Fitbit Force will even alert users to incoming calls, along with tracking movement, sleep, calories, and serving as a watch and alarm.

If nothing else, the Galaxy Gear will be the tall-man to beat in terms of a smartwatch that could play a major role in health and health care. Other smartwatch developers have the option to up the ante by building a more robust and cheaper device that can do all and more than the Galaxy Gear. You’re up next Apple.

Discussion ( 1 comment ) Post a Comment
  • I see limited smart watch opportunity with the current designs and sensors but much larger health care opportunity with new sensors for temperature & moisture (ambient & skin), pulse & blood pressure, blood oxygen level, and non-invasive sensing of different biomarkers, including blood glucose.

    As it is today, the smart watch offers little more than the fitness band or smartphone and is thus an optional accessory. But with additional sensors, it can become central to telehealth and thus worn all the time by many more people.

    Wayne Caswell, Modern Health Talk

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