As personal fitness and health care continue to be top of mind, sensor technology adds a valuable component in the battle of the bulge and the quest to stay healthy thanks to a marriage between BodyMedia and Bluetooth.
Body sensors linked to smartphones can now create full-body monitors as BodyMedia’s armbands communicate with Bluetooth-enabled smartphones.
As a small business attempting to build a brand in a space dominated by the likes of Nike, the innovative startup was founded in 1999 by four researchers at Carnegie Mellon University — three from the Mobile and Wearable Computing Lab and the fourth an artificial intelligence expert.
The startup is careful to not make claims it can directly lead to health loss, but does position its BodyMedia FIT product as a factor in doubling weight loss in one study, when used in combination with behavior modification (read: a more active lifestyle and diet).
“It’s a dashboard for the human body, a great viewer into what your body is doing on the fly,” comments BodyMedia cofounder and CTO John Stivoric to the New York Times.
Ahead of the consumer curve, their offerings at first blush were costly and inaccessible. But what a difference a digital decade makes. The Bluetooth-enabled armband costs $249; the BodyMedia data service costs $7 a month as part of an annual subscription.
Businesses and individuals are seizing on digital apps to help their employees and themselves lead healthier and more productive lives. BodyMedia’s sensor goes on sale in November on their website, Amazon, Costco.com and in Best Buy stores.
The upside in diabetes monitoring and management and corporate wellness for companies like RedBrick Health, Virgin HealthMiles and Tangerine Wellness is substantial as they strive to deliver better products in the health service industry.
According to experts in the field, the body is a rich data source that only needs to be mined for invaluable information. “Artificial intelligence is about digging through big data sets to find meaning,” said Astro Teller, a recent Google hire, founder of a hedge fund management company using AI, and chairman of BodyMedia. For healthcare, that translates to “better personal and policy choices.”
Enabled by digital technology, wellness just got sensored and smarter.