Pittsburgh-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 Â 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.Â 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 affordableÂ pricing strategy would also help, since insurers are still a long way from paying for such devices.
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.