Speaker and headset biz Jawbone has spent over $100m snapping up body sensor maker BodyMedia to get into the wild world of biometrics.
Jawbone already sells the Up, a wristband which closely monitors your movements to estimate calories burnt, but its acquisition of BodyMedia gives it access to a whole load of body-monitoring kit – and, more importantly, the patents to ensure unimpeded development in that direction. Development which will be accelerated by integration with a load of fitness apps and If This Then That (IFTTT).
Ten applications will now play nicely with the iOS Up application (necessary since the wristband can only synchronise with the app; Android version to follow) including MapMyFitness, MyFitnessPal, Notch, RunKeeper and the aforementioned IFTTT.
IFTTT lets users create recipes for automating straightforward tasks by connecting trigger actions with a set of user-defined outputs. connecting cloud services together. So one could automatically Tweet when 2,500 calories have been burnt, or use a Belkin mains switch to deny access to the TV until 50 sit-ups have been completed; actions which will be triggered when the Up wristband is connected to the iOS app.
The Up wristband only monitors movement, but BodyMedia sells a range of armbands which monitor skin conductivity and temperature, as well as having wireless links to a mobile app, but the patent portfolio is clearly a significant part of the attraction:
"BodyMedia has been a pioneer in wearable body monitors, with over 14 years of medical and consumer expertise in the category and 87 patents issued"
So explains the Jawbone press release explaining the acquisition, going on to point out that BodyMedia's cloud also has accumulated 500 trillion points of data from its customers, which will become increasingly valuable as we establish what is "normal variation" and what is "scary divergence" amongst all the new data flowing in.
The wellness industry, selling health monitoring kit to "a bunch of attention seeking old-style hypochondriacs and neurotics" as one medical expert termed it, is (we're often told) about to explode. If it does, then by acquiring BodyMedia and opening up its apps, Jawbone will be well placed to take a big part of that explosion. ®