New developments in fitness and health data

Monday, 3 April 2017

New developments in fitness and health data

The explosion of Big Data surrounding our daily lives is not a recent trend. Still it is continuously growing and developing new functions everyday, including the growing use of data for fitness and lifestyle management. We have seen how phones have been evolving towards a more concrete and detailed way to measure data, which now include our physical activity, hours spent sleeping, nutrition and vital signs. We've also seen the excess of apps developed in line with this new tech trend to help our self-measurement and target setting. Although this market is already saturated the possibilities for data in this sector are still very much in development stages. We aim to look closer at possible trends for the future of health and fitness combined with a more data-driven focus.

The current situation is not as glamorous and user friendly as you would expect with our physical and health data management, there is a high reliance upon user proactivity and device syncing. If you have tried to use Apple Health without any connected devices you know it can be a less than intuitive experience.

For that reason, Mywellness, an app (yes, another one) powered by Technogym that helps you reorganize and measure your physical activity data synchronized with your gym performance. How is that done? By gathering data directly from your activity using the gyms equipment such as connected bicycles, treadmills, and weightlifting machines? First, users take a medical examination with the trainer at the gym and baseline vital signs are uploaded to the cloud. Users are allowed to modify them with further measurements. Then, users follow a workout plan using gym equipment that tracks their progress towards personal goals. To provide a bigger picture of individual health, Mywellness  also includes other health data collected on a user's phone.

Figure 1: connected gyms will help data to become more accurate.







Another development in the Big Data and health boom is the growing interest of companies in that data. A November 2016 study by Rand found out on November 2016 that workers who sleep less than six hours each night costs the american economy 411 billion $ anually. This cost is obviously detrimental to a companies performance, meaning that companies are increasingly interested in gathering health related data from their employees.

The Outside View, a Shoreditch based company recently acquired by Rightmove, carried out an experiment in 2014 under the name of the Health, Wealth and Happiness program. With the goal of finding a way to maximize their workforce performance by looking at employee happiness and health levels, The Outside View was the pioneer of the "quantified self" movement. Employees had to download a series of apps that reveal their day to day physical activity such as walking, running, sleeping hours, and even their level of hapiness. Processing all this data gave the employees access to specialized workout sessions perfectly complimenting their needs.

Rob Symes, founder of The Outside View commented on this initiative in an interview with The Guardian, stating that the biggest problem for the Health, Wealth and Happiness program was that the data couldn't be unified in one place. This was the same problem that MyWellness was seeking to address, so there will likely be business-focused development along these lines in the near future.

Another company that is taking a new approach to health and Big Data is LifeBeam, creator of VI which launched a Kickstarter campaign last year to fund its futuristic personal trainer idea.




What makes VI a very special trainer is that it doesn't only measure your physical data from Apple Health or Google Fit, but it gives you real time insights about your performance. As LifeBeam founder Zvika Orron well says in the video above, "there are endless amounts of wearable tech today, most of them provide lots of numbers, but no one is really telling you what is good for you".  Combining intuitive and real time data processing with natural speech as a your ultra-personalized personal trainer, this device is likely to become the future of fitness data.

Here at LUCA we are eager to see how this trend develops so we can make data application and analysis to health and fitness more efficient. As more companies become interested in analysing their employee health, equipment like VI are likely to increase in importance. This is definitely a trend that is worth watching because one day our salary may well be connected to how well we perform and take care of ourselves physically.

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