With the purchases of MyFitnessPal, MapMyFitness, and Endomondo, Under Armour is going all-in to secure fitness technology end-users globally.
How much is your fitness data really worth? Do your steps, workouts, and sleep have real value?
For many wearable technology and fitness equipment manufacturers, we're fast approaching a situation similar to 1849 when there were tales spoken about a Gold Rush in the west.
That gold rush is definitely about to happen, except the money isn't in the ground, but hidden in the virtual data that our bodies create.
A Fitness Empire
Combined with geo-fencing, this new landscape becomes fertile ground for sowing the seeds of behavioral change, which is essentially the primary interest regarding what makes this new technology so attractive: with new technology we are empowered to change old habits.
Skyhook Wireless reports:
By 2016, health and fitness apps will be using location-based contextual awareness to present a complete picture of each activity throughout a user’s day. Location-based context empowers fitness apps to create dynamic mobile experiences that endear users and maximize profitability using geofencing, anonymized personas and venue-level profiles. Contextual location data encourages positive behaviors as they happen and can anticipate how to help users stay active and on top of their goals.
Since 2009, the wearable technology space has been in a state of perpetual—if not exponential—growth.
Now, as companies begin to leverage the behavior of end-users towards buying their products and services, wearable technology is on the front lines of advertising to consumers in a way never previously possible.
What This Means To Digital Health
Fitness wearables, mHealth, and digital health applications have been a flagship for leading the charge in using the data created by human behavior to empower and enhance humanity.
With fitness technology expanding inside gyms, health clubs, and wellness centers, the market is shifting towards touching the end-user at the perfect time—based on targeting each individual's unique behavior.
Last year, Strava launched Strava Metro, to license and sell one full year's worth of exercise data—such as bike routes, running paths and more—to government organizations.
MapMyFitness, purchased by Under Armour for over a half billion dollars, has also joined in selling these data sets to provide information on the commuting habits of cyclists to cities like Denver, Colorado—and many more.
With all this data is being bought and sold, one has to ask: Since my body is the one actually creating this data, do I get a piece of the financial pie?
John C Havens writes about this perfectly in his book, Hacking Happiness, where he describes a future world in which large media and for-profit institutions trade billions of user data points to leverage the sales of goods based on global behavioral data.
Behind closed doors, there are millions of dollars being exchanged between high echelon fitness companies in key strategic partnerships.
This dynamic is where the exchange of enormous amounts of fitness and activity data starts to take on a "Big Brother" type marketing initiative.
The Value Of Your Data
Quantifying the exact value of all this fitness and activity data is similar to discerning how many beers are sold every year to college kids on spring break.
We're talking millions of dollars made from literally billions of data-points.
Consider a year's worth of your fitness data as more than just sweat equity, but rather a window into your life where you allow those who possess your numbers to look at your most personal and granular activities.
The more granular the data, the more specifically companies who own it can understand you. When they know who you are, what you eat, and how you play—right down to the hour—the best opportunity to sell you the right product at the right time becomes apparent.
So who will they sell to?
I've categorized three main types of fitness wearable users from whom data sets can be pulled. Each has its own unique value depending on the product or service involved.
- The neophyte and early adopter who is just beginning to look at how digital health and wearable technology can help them in losing weight, being healthy, and improving well-being.
- The weekend-warrior who logs everything religiously—not only to challenge their friends online—but also to have a virtual record of their own performance to reflect on the next time they feel like sleeping in for the 12th day in a row.
- The seasoned athlete, who thrives off of blood testing, sports performance, nutraceuticals, and supplementation recommendations pulled directly from self-quantification and testing.
Savvy organizations like WellnessFX are becoming more aware of how to view, analyze, and sell customized products to fine-tune these data-driven athletes who live their lives in the numbers—always pushing for the next digit.
At the end of the day, a fitness app or device needs to be able to interpret data accurately, not just passively collect it.
Companies right now are too busy trying to create Minimum Viable Products to be seamless, but with dashboards emerging like TicTrac, HumanOS, and other third-party applications, the end-user will one day soon be able to view his or her data for actionable change of deleterious patterns.
To Export or Not to Export, That is the Question
Data ownership should be the first question you ask about when purchasing a wearable—quickly followed by inquiring about seamlessness.
Will you be able to export all of your own data to use in a way you deem best?
Will the OEM have all rights to use it how they deem best?
Under Armour is paying close attention to who releases what and how it affects the industry, but one thing is for certain: with the use of fitness wearables and digital health apps garnering more and more attention, the future of the fitness industry is literally being written before our very eyes.
The nuviun industry network is intended to contribute to discussion and stimulate debate on important issues in global digital health. The views are solely those of the author.
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