First generation fitness and activity trackers were snapped up and strapped on by runners, athletes, and weight-conscious people seeking to document their activity. We predicted that, as the technology evolved, fitness wearables manufacturers such as Fitbit would expand their markets to encompass health and wellness. We also suggested adding sensors and health and wellness-specific apps could widen wearables’ appeal about the same time research reports of medium-term studies would start to show wearables’ positive impact on health and healthcare costs. That day has arrived.
In early May, Fitbit announced smartphone apps and clock faces focused on condition management and overall health. The new apps give Fitbit Ionic and Versa users options to manage conditions such as diabetes and some types of cancer. A new female health tracking application is designed to help women learn more about their menstrual cycle to understand better how it affects other aspects of health and fitness. Another application, Sickweather, displays top illnesses in the user’s area and predicts the risk of current local contagious diseases. Other apps help users find pharmacies, interface with health research platforms, and participate in wellness and rewards programs. Some of the new applications and clock faces are available now; others will launch in the second half of 2018.
Fitbit has been a fitness wearables leader since 2014 when it ruled with 45% market share. As Fitbit and Apple, the current wearables leader, incorporate health apps in their smartwatches, other smartwatch companies and health and wellness software developers will have to follow or be left behind.