Trending in Wearables: #Collaboration

By Sarah Kunkle

Last month, Misfit introduced the Speedo Shine, an activity and sleep tracker that also monitors pool laps and swim distance. The device promises to deliver accurate lap counting for all stroke types and does not require any charging.

Vitality’s Chief Health Officer (and avid swimmer) Derek Yach took the Shine for a swim and offered the following review: “The tracker works well for tracking sleep, swimming, and walking and integrates with the Misfit and Apple apps with ease. Unfortunately, a poor clasp design means my device is now lying at the bottom of the Long Island Sound. I look forward to version 2!”

Despite its novelty in the market, the Speedo-Misfit partnership is part of a broader trend of collaboration between more established companies and younger startups. Earlier this year, Under Armor acquired a variety of calorie counting and activity tracking apps including MyFitnessPal, MapMyFitness, MapMyRun, and Endomondo. A few months later, Adidas announced its acquisition of fitness app Runtastic.

These deals occurred in the context of market shakeup. In 2014, Under Armor surpassed Adidas to become the number two sportswear brand in the US as measured by retail sales. Nike has been the longstanding leader in this market, but its own wearable ventures have been rocky. A University of Pennsylvania study found the Nike FuelBand to be particularly inaccurate in tracking activity and the company recently settled a class action lawsuit over its ability to accurately track steps and calories. Nike has since ceased FuelBand development, opting to focus on its smartphone app instead.

Recognizing that design and aesthetics play a huge role in product sales, collaboration with fashion brands has been another trend in the wearables market. Misfit and Swarovski, the Austrian producer of fine crystal and cut glass, developed the Swarovski Shine collection, bejeweled activity trackers that can be incorporated into a variety of crystal-covered bracelets, bands, and necklaces. Similarly, Fitbit and designer Tory Burch teamed up to create a line of accessories for the more fashion conscious.

Beyond wearables, collaboration between unlikely partners has been fueling innovation across the health industry. Apple has partnered with the Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins, Epic (the nation’s leading provider of electronic health records), and a variety of other large health systems, with the goal of using Apple Watch and Healthkit data to improve healthcare. As the personalized health technology market becomes more saturated, these strategic partnerships will be key to furthering innovation that can improve health outcomes and deliver financial returns.

Do you have other examples of health tech collaboration? Are there any companies you would like to see collaborate in the future? Let us know by sharing in the comments below or tweeting at either the Vitality Institute @VitalityUSA or Sarah Kunkle @Sareve.

Thumbnail image credit: Misfit blog

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