Fitbit Futures – What Next? Fitbit Speaks on their immediate future

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Fitbit Futures – What Next?

It’s no secret that Fitbit is almost certainly going to move to fully supporting Google’s Wear OS now that they are fully owned by Google.

It’s also no secret that your data is almost certainly going to be safe with Google-Fitbit…at least for a while. The Eagle-eyes of the European Union and other regulators will be watching even more closely than normal, itching to make a multi-million dollar fine for any breaches to commitments recently made by Google.

Fitbit History – A RecapTry this post today from Wareable

The direction of the hardware is also relatively certain. You can bet your bottom dollar, and your top dollar, that Fitbit will be on the path well-trodden by Apple. They are after broadly the same kind of consumer. Except Apple has sewn up its own domain where  Apple Watch is both the king and queen of iOS-land; so what is up for grabs is ‘the rest‘. ‘The rest’ is a big market perhaps best described as ‘kinda Android’ but which also sneaks in the Samsung flavour, the Garmin flavour and some emerging proprietary flavours from China.

Yet it’s the hardware and software features that are going to be interesting. Fitbit algorithm director, Conor Heneghan, made it clear in an interview with Wareable (above) that Fitbit is “…going with the illness detection from a COVID point of view right now, with a pretty high specificity approach.

CV-19 is relatively new and we might imagine that Fitbit could take a while to get their solution to market and by which time CV-19 could be gone.

In response to that:

First up, CV-19 is probably going to be in the human population for the foreseeable future, thus many people are going to have a continual concern about it as vaccinations wear off (if that’s what happens). Secondly, regarding sensor provision, if we cast our minds back to the launch of the Fitbit Sense in 2020 we recall that it was jam-packed full of sensors including all this lot: ECG, skin temperature, sleep breathing rate, electrodermal activity sensing, HRV, an ambient light sensor with many of those being enabled by Fitbit’s new PurePulse 2.0 optical HR sensor.

That’s is the almost the Full Monty of sensors that are needed to attempt to predict just about everything from ovulation to, well, … a global pandemic. Even the Apple Watch doesn’t yet have a body temperature sensor although Apple Watch 7 might. Perhaps one key sensor that is missing is something like greenTEG’s Core sensor that can detect both skin temperature and core temperature.

Note: Changes to breathing rates, HRV, HRrest, body temperatures and other signals can indicate the onset of ‘something’, they will NEVER be able to detect and predict a specific illness.

Must Read: Apple Watch 6 Review

So we really might see a CV-19 ‘predicting’ Fitbit by September.

Of course, the sensors need to be accurate, which could be a problem. However, sensor accuracy is not always quite as straightforward as it seems. The likes of Whoop and Fitbit have significant back-end processing power to reduce the noise (errors) of their sensors and, who knows?, with a bit of AI many things could be possible.

 

 

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Ray Maker

I agree this sort of thing is coming.

However, I think in many ways a Fitbit with COVID19 indicators in fall 2021 is honestly a bit too late for this market segment.

Meaning, that by fall 2021, most modern countries will have fully vaccinated their populations – or be close to it. And that’s where the vast majority of Fitbit buyers are, so it’d mostly be a non-useful feature to them*.

(*I know, lots of vaccine nuances to note here, but talking at a high level).

Rui Pereira

Sensors need appropriate conditions to be accurate and useful. Even a medical grade oxymeter will be awful if the patient is not static, has just climbed 4 flights of stairs, etc. Just by insuring proper pre-reading conditions and measuring perceived accuracy rating of the reading (based on movement, accelerometers, etc), and/or by privileging readings done during sleep, data will be more meaningful. If this is complemented with user readings when needed to feed gaps in the algorithm, a good enough health map can be built to generate accurate insights.