The last year has been focused on—if not bombarded by— ‘wearable technology.’ The majority of the products and ideas have centered on healthcare and tracking. Even though notably absent as a primary point from the presentations delivered on Tuesday (Forbes.com delivered a piece on the issue), the Apple Watch will take on some of the health tracking output that we have come to expect in our devices. There are a number of apps and devices now readily available (for a small fee, of course) to track, analyze, and monitor all of our activity from food consumer to running a lap on the local track.
Should health technology solutions be disruptive?
The interesting aspect of all of this is the way the solutions can be categorized. The majority of solutions (mostly devices) have aligned with an attempt to integrate more naturally into the user’s life such as using a watch, alarm app, bracelet (Jawbone Up Band and Fitbit), or ring to capture and integrate with data and content. These pieces of technology have centered on NOT being disruptive to the lifestyle of their users in an effort to seamlessly become a part of their day. But why, when we have spent so much time integrating our smartphones into our daily lives, do we now choose to ignore them for the sake of a new watch, bracelet or ring?
Disruption for healthy fun
Actually, we haven’t. Something new (well, relatively new) has started to take hold of the notable health-tracking playing field. For those of us on the iOS platform we are a little late to the game as it was just released in July of this year, but Android users have been embracing the game-changer, Ingress, since the general release in December 2013. Downloaded over 5 million times, the Ingress game has driven users off the couch to go capture “portals” in the live world. Portals are housed at various places deemed worthy; interesting stores, unique architecture, hyper-local spots, or a community gathering place, for example. The game is extremely addictive and new users beware: you may find yourself needing extra time to make it to your destination as you eagerly seek new portals on your walk.
This innovative application has targeted a new strategy for user interaction: be as disruptive as possible. Yet, it may just end up being the strongest motivator for inspiring to get moving and tracking their progress. Though not an original objective for the game, the possibilities are vast, and finding that critical way to combine intense interest and healthy habits could lead to greater success stories.
Another example of this type of health solution is the app “Superhero Workout.” The idea is that you are interacting with your smartphone throughout your workout, not just turning it on to monitor progress and provide an output of the results upon completion of the activity. Your device will act as your inspiration and motivation to get better, faster, stronger through active engagement and fun (and the possibility of achieving Superhero greatness, of course).
So, what health technology solutions should we be delivering?
The most critical element at play here is a simple one and hasn’t really changed over time. Give the user what they want and they will integrate into their life. Whatever the medium or the output (device/app/wearable), if it is something users want to embrace then they will ensure it is seamlessly or disruptively part of their everyday. We just need to deliver effective (and fun) solutions that will meet the demand.