bodymedialogoPittsburgh-based BodyMedia makes personal monitoring devices that can help consumers keep track of their physical activity and nutrition. Their products and accessories contain innovative sensors that measure physiological data  like heart rate, body temperature, calories burnt, sleep duration, etc . The collected data is then interpreted online to help wearers aim for and monitor a balanced, healthy lifestyle.

They smartly target three different segments using different pricing/marketing strategies: Consumers (as GoWearFit), fitness clubs (as BodyBugg) and clinical researchers (as SenseWear). The specifications, features and services differ for each offering and a good comparison table can be found here. All that detailed health info does come at its price- their consumer product starts at $199.95 for the hardware and a $12.95/month subscription to the online personal manager tool.

The company has been around for more than a decade and has certainly come a long way. BodyBugg is used by contestants on NBC’s television show The Biggest Loser, you can find GoWearFit in Dick’s Sporting Good Stores, and there are a bunch of peer-reviewed publications and studies done using SenseWear. I’m a fan of products that let consumer manage their own health, and BodyMedia is certainly doing the right things to ride that growing trend.

Tying the mandatory monthly subscription seems like a walled-garden approach, though. Integrating with electronic records would be a fantastic growth opportunity- think of all the apps that can be built on top of such monitoring data if it were available on PHRs (like Healthvault or Google Health) and/or the outpatient Electronic Medical Record with your physician. Perhaps a more affordable pricing strategy would also help, since insurers are still a long way from paying for such devices.

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October 2010 Update: It’s been a while since the original post above. A lot has changed. Externally, there are number of start-ups that compete with BodyMedia now (like Fitbit and others). Internally, seems like they’ve built up a solid management team. Apparently ‘GoWearFit’ brand has been decommissioned- they have focused the consumer offering to the parent BodyMedia brand. BodyBugg is now showing up as a trademark of 24 Hour Fitness USA, Inc. and they offer a program called Apex Fitness based on it. SenseWear is still out there.

January 2011 Update: BodyMedia just announced a deal with Sprint to enable cellular connectivity in it’s products. A smart evolutionary step on BodyMedia’s part. And of course, another evidence that wireless network operators are really serious about consumer healthcare as a vertical. Tomorrow’s devices will take anytime, anywhere connectivity as granted.