Today I got my Fibit from drchrono. I requested it not only with the goal of learning about emerging medical technologies, but also to fulfill a personal interest: hacking it to see how it works. Healthcare is a 4.5 trillion dollar market with huge room for improvement. There is one specific market that still remains relatively untapped: healthcare consumer electronics. If someone can predict where the next Steve Jobs will emerge, it will probably come from this arena.
Convergent Technologies and Economies of Scale
Until recently, there has been little information about our health metrics. However, the biometrics market is unfolding itself as ground breaking technologies become cheaper with time. For example, 23andMe demonstrates that a whole human genome can now be sequenced for $300, compared to $1000 in 2007. Indeed, the cost of human genome sequencing technologies is following Moore’s Law. With Fitbit, the 3D accelerator technology previously available on the Wii can now be used to track not only steps and distance taken (pedometers can do this), but also sleep quality, calories burned, and stairs climbed.
Consumer Awareness and Adoption
It is not hard to find countless of apps and gadgets (from iPhone apps to Nike accessories) that promise you to track every aspects of your health; from steps and calories, to sleeping patterns. Why is this area booming? Because consumers are becoming more aware of their health and they are demanding information to better improve it.
First, the internet has taken its course in creating a time where virtually everything can be learned. Using Google you can learn anything for free; including health. The quality of the information is also taken care of with Google’s Pagerank algorithm.
Social media is another trend that is facilitating this: “you can now do everything with your friends”. This simple statement has deep implications: because humans are comparative in nature, we tend to base our actions influenced by other people, and the closer these people are in our lives, the more they influence us.
There is a study that shows that if you have friends that are obese, you have a higher risk of being obese too, just by mere social network association and behavior mirroring in what is called ‘Mindless Eating’. This might help to behaviorally explain the current obesity epidemic in the country. However, what if we can turn this behavior epidemic upside down by promoting health rather than degrading it? Like the viral nature of Facebook and other social networks, a health conscientious consumer network might be possible as well, which will pave the way for this new trend.
Healthcare is an exciting arena, and drchrono will be on the forefront of these opportunities. So “Stay hungry, stay foolish.”
Article first published as The Next Steve Jobs Would Come from Consumer Healthcare Products on Technorati.