Mobile // Mobile Applications
News
6/14/2014
09:06 AM
Connect Directly
Google+
LinkedIn
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Google Fit: Another Try At Health Data?

Google looks to announce a new service at the Google I/O conference that will track activity data. Will it succeed where Google Health failed?

Technology Declares War On Cancer
Technology Declares War On Cancer
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Google reportedly is preparing to re-enter the personal health market with the release of a health data aggregation service called Google Fit.

According to Forbes, Google will launch the service at the Google I/O developer conference, which runs June 25 and 26.

Back in 2008, Google introduced Google Health, a health data aggregation service for storing standards-based medical records on behalf of patients. But healthcare providers and patients saw little value in putting Google in the middle of their relationship. Google shut the service down in 2011, noting that it didn't scale as hoped.

Perhaps this time will be different because the health data in question comes not from healthcare providers but from wearable devices. Google Fit aims to be a storehouse for data from wearable activity tracking devices such as Fitbits, Jawbone UPs, and Nike FuelBands, and smartphone apps that gather or generate related data. Those three activity trackers, incidentally, accounted for 97% of the revenue in a digital fitness device market estimated to have reached $330 million last year, according to NPD.

[Health apps are proliferating. Let us help you choose the best: Read 9 Mobile Apps To Get You Fit.]

Google did not respond to a request for comment.

For technology companies, much of the enthusiasm behind the emerging market for wearable devices, and for the related non-wearable networked appliances that constitute the Internet of Things, comes from the prospect of a bountiful data harvest. Companies making these devices, or providing software for them, see revenue potential in helping customers store and manage the data exhaust spewed by their hardware. In some cases, they see this information as something that can be exploited for marketing purposes: "As someone with high blood pressure, perhaps you'd like to buy..."

In March, Google introduced a version of Android for wearable devices, Android Wear, noting that it is working with device makers Asus, HTC, LG, Motorola, and Samsung on wearable products. It's a good bet that at least one of these hardware makers will debut a device that supports Google Fit at the Google I/O conference in two weeks.

Google's ongoing competition with Apple to dominate the mobile device market will continue as wearable devices proliferate. Apple announced at its Worldwide Developer Conference last week that it plans to ship a health app as part of iOS 8 later this year to store health and fitness data. It also introduced a service called HealthKit to allow iOS developers to create apps that use health data for Apple and third-party devices. Apple also is expected to introduce its health-and-fitness oriented iWatch this fall.

Microsoft could become a player in the mobile health data and device market, too. Windows remains the dominant operating system among healthcare providers, so it has a foot in the door. And its health portal, HealthVault, has proven hardy enough to outlive Google Health. In February, it introduced its Bing Health & Fitness app for tracking activity data, and the company is reportedly planning to launch a smartwatch with health monitoring capabilities later this year.

Download Healthcare IT In The Obamacare Era, the InformationWeek Healthcare digital issue on changes driven by regulation. Modern technology created the opportunity to restructure the healthcare industry around accountable care organizations, but ACOs also put new demands on IT.

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View
Page 1 / 3   >   >>
danielcawrey
100%
0%
danielcawrey,
User Rank: Ninja
6/14/2014 | 9:48:22 PM
Google Fit Devices
Not only will Google likely announced Fit-related devices from manufacturers, I would expect them to do the normail I/O thing and give a wearable away to developers. 

The company has been very smart about this over the years. In order to influence developers, Google gives away hardware products at I/O in order to get developers using the products. 

Wearables will be a huge market. Question is, what about the potential privacy issues that these gadgets may bring?
PaulS681
50%
50%
PaulS681,
User Rank: Ninja
6/15/2014 | 9:33:48 AM
health data is good

I think this stuff is cool and makes it fun to stay healthy. An easy way to record and track activity and blood pressure makes people more inclined to monitor it. I think Google will have a little more success this time around.

PaulS681
50%
50%
PaulS681,
User Rank: Ninja
6/15/2014 | 9:38:23 AM
Re: Google Fit Devices

@danielcawrey... The unfortunate reality of privacy rears its ugly head. It is, or should be, a big concern and no doubt someone will find a way to bring it to the forefront. It will be interesting how this is handled.

Gigi3
100%
0%
Gigi3,
User Rank: Ninja
6/16/2014 | 12:56:02 AM
Google Fit
"Google's ongoing competition with Apple to dominate the mobile device market will continue as wearable devices proliferate. Apple announced at its Worldwide Developer Conference last week that it plans to ship a health app as part of iOS 8 later this year to store health and fitness data."

Thomas, thanks for this update. I think Apples latest announcement made Google to release their product much before others get productizing their idea. Since Google is a software company they have to depend their vendors like Samsung, HTC, LG etc for hardware and implementation.
Brian.Dean
50%
50%
Brian.Dean,
User Rank: Ninja
6/16/2014 | 1:41:57 AM
Re: Google Fit Devices
@Paul, you are right, it's only a matter of time before an incident emerges that breaks privacy and causes damage. Having said that, the average consumer will gain lots of benefits from health monitoring (data enables the scientific method) and there will be a few incident where health monitoring manages to change the lives of individuals with serious health conditions, like insulin has helped diabetes.
Brian.Dean
50%
50%
Brian.Dean,
User Rank: Ninja
6/16/2014 | 1:55:15 AM
Re: Google Fit
Gigi3, interesting point, it makes me wonder whether Microsoft is in a better situation with the acquiring of Nokia, since having a hardware unit makes it easier for developers to plan ahead. If Microsoft could take the open source model for software and hardware in the wearable's arena, then innovation and achieving market scale could be gained in no time.
Michelle
50%
50%
Michelle,
User Rank: Ninja
6/16/2014 | 10:18:45 AM
Re: Google Fit Devices
@Daniel I'm curious to see what gadgets are given out at I/O this year. I would expect a wearable device too. I expect a snazzy health analytics dashboard to go with. Tracking and storing data is only part of the package. I think we'll eventually see a pro and standard version of health analytics from the new Google Fit service.
Alison_Diana
50%
50%
Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
6/16/2014 | 5:25:38 PM
Re: health data is good
I agree -- and with Glass, Google already has a differentiator from Apple and Samsung, which is no doubt what it planned all along.
Alison_Diana
50%
50%
Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
6/16/2014 | 5:29:15 PM
Re: Google Fit Devices
I don't think a wearable data breach is what we need to worry about in the healthcare space. I'm far more concerned about a breach occuring at a large insurer, a government agency (like the VA or Medicare), or one of these huge health systems than a Fitbit-like company. After all, Fitbit doesn't have your social, insurance info, or other data that's valued at about $50-$60, the value of your medical record. As I wrote last month, healthcare is far less secure than retail! That is not a good sign.
Gigi3
100%
0%
Gigi3,
User Rank: Ninja
6/19/2014 | 1:06:15 AM
Re: Google Fit
"interesting point, it makes me wonder whether Microsoft is in a better situation with the acquiring of Nokia, since having a hardware unit makes it easier for developers to plan ahead. If Microsoft could take the open source model for software and hardware in the wearable's arena, then innovation and achieving market scale could be gained in no time."

Brian,  that can also be possible. That's the case for Apple also, but Google has to depend third part vendors like Samsung, HTC, LG etc for their hardware.
Page 1 / 3   >   >>
Building A Mobile Business Mindset
Building A Mobile Business Mindset
Among 688 respondents, 46% have deployed mobile apps, with an additional 24% planning to in the next year. Soon all apps will look like mobile apps and it's past time for those with no plans to get cracking.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Tech Digest, Dec. 9, 2014
Apps will make or break the tablet as a work device, but don't shortchange critical factors related to hardware, security, peripherals, and integration.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of December 14, 2014. Be here for the show and for the incredible Friday Afternoon Conversation that runs beside the program.
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.