Guest author Kerri McMaster is the co-founder and chief strategy officer for Performance Lab.
The promise of fitness wearables is their capacity to raise the population’s health and wellness, primarily by making users aware of their lack of activity or sleep. But, as it turns out, the main users of these devices are not the unfit people they’re supposedly designed for.
Recent polling by Ipsos found that only 11 percent of Americans over 54 intend to purchase a wearable device in the next 12 months, and a separate study by NPD Group concluded that fewer than a quarter of fitness tracker users were over 54. The same research showed that 41 percent of fitness tracker users earned more than $100,000 per year, and that 35- to 54-year-olds (largely healthy, but starting to worry) were the dominant demographic.
So the main users of these gadgets are in the “three W" category: the worried, wealthy, and well, not necessarily the unhealthy users, for whom the technology could make the biggest difference. The problem—and the solution—lies in the approach gadget makers take.Data & Social Features Are Not Enough
When it came to quantified health, the data was going to save us. But consumers, outside of an elite few, are overwhelmed by all that information. They don’t know what to do with it all.
In the many years I ran a health and fitness consultancy, I lost count of the people who walked in wanting to know what the numbers from their sports watches actually meant. To make the data story even worse, PWC recently found that a whopping 86 percent of consumers fear that wearable tech makes us more vulnerable to privacy and security breaches.
The other supposed “hero” was going to be positive social pressure. The proponents of this approach had us believing we’d share our outcomes with friends and family, and that would motivate us to meet goals. We would get excited to share our triumphs, and be inspired by our loved ones’ progress, they said.
PWC’s research debunks this as well. Fewer than one in four Americans is willing to share their health and fitness outcomes, and an even smaller proportion wants their friends to share with them. Just as holidaymakers on tropical beaches are disproportionately willing to share their photos, so it is the relatively fit and well who are willing to share their weight loss and personal best statistics. Our social feeds are flooded by the successes of those that don’t need social support, and Candy Crush invitations from those that do.
So how will we use wearables to deliver health benefits on a mass scale? If the target market doesn’t have the expertise to deal with mushrooming data, and they don’t tap into social reinforcement, what will it take to reach them?
Simply put, it will take results—and effective ways to get them.Take The Steps To Smarter Fitness Devices
It’s common sense: When a person is rewarded for very specific behaviors, they will repeat those behaviors. Sounds simple, but none of the fitness wearables on the market today can do this well enough. Even if they could, they can't distinguish well enough between different types of activities, to discern which ones to reward.
Take fitness trackers and step counters, for example. There's a difference between "active steps" and "passive steps." Right now fitness trackers don’t make that distinction. Lazy trudging to the minibar in slippers count the same as steps in the fourth minute of a long hill climb.
Even worse: The other day, while I was sitting on the bus, I watched with bemusement as one of my fitness trackers—a leading brand (I test them all)—rapidly climbed over my goal of 10,000 steps. We had hit a particularly bumpy collection of suburban New Zealand roads, and my gadget attempted to quantify those motions.
Active steps—or purposeful activity to move toward a health goal—have enormous potential. They open the door to coaching and real-time behavioral change that can bend the curve for health outcomes. To do this properly we cannot just report disparate data streams. We have to bring them together, and put them in the context of recent history, medical history, and individual goals.
People may take more active steps, if they see just how “scientific" walking or running moves them toward their dream—whether that's weight loss, fitness, reduced blood pressure, or reduced cholesterol. I’m talking about generating meaningful statements within these bespoke workouts like:
- “Your last two walks were really similar in terms of effort output. If you want your weight loss to get back on track you need to add some new components to your workouts. So for today’s walk you’ll need to either go faster, go longer, or add a few more hills. I’ll let you know when you do any of these things.”
- “Kathy, you need to ease off your effort on this hill to moderate your exercise blood pressure.”
This is possible right now. Blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular health can all be significantly ameliorated by scientific exercise, tailored to individual physiology, with coaching prompts responding to real-time monitoring of the environment and bodily reaction.
The key to success is partnership. Trusted companies that have an intimate understanding of their customers must collaborate with both sensor developers and health experts, who in turn should work closely with machine-learning specialists.
The outcome could play out faster than you think. With the expertise and the advances available to us, we have the jigsaw puzzles pieces in hand. Now, we just need to snap them together. That’s the only way that our picture of tech-driven health and wellness can fully form.
Lead photo courtesy of Fitbit
Strap on your space suit and fly into a dwarf moon's Danger Zone.
Apple says YiSpecter iOS malware only affects users who downloaded apps from untrusted sources; issue is fixed since iOS 8.4 (Dave Mark/The Loop)
Dave Mark / The Loop:
Apple says YiSpecter iOS malware only affects users who downloaded apps from untrusted sources; issue is fixed since iOS 8.4 — Apple's official statement on the YiSpecter iOS malware — Earlier today, we posted about a report from Palo Alto Networks about YiSpector, iOS malware that was said to attack non-jailbroken iOS devices.
Big questions for Square now: How will the IPO be affected, who's really running the company, and why doesn't Jack give up the CEO role? (Jason Del Rey/Re/code)
Jason Del Rey / Re/code:
Big questions for Square now: How will the IPO be affected, who's really running the company, and why doesn't Jack give up the CEO role? — Three Questions for Square Now That Jack Dorsey Is Officially Working Part Time — Johannes Simon / Getty Images via Thinkstock
Last night's season finale had a lot of twists. Will any of them matter in Season 3? Who knows?!
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The American gaming retailer will have Valve's PC-based game hardware and its new Steam Controller starting November 10.
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The newspaper's executive editor also says the Times employs as many reporters as it did 15 years ago.
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Ubisoft launched a strange livestream to promo a new game announcement. Leaks are saying it's a Far Cry game set in prehistoric times.
Jeffrey Wu / Focus Taiwan:
HTC posts smaller than expected Q3 loss of $138M on $655M in revenues — HTC posts smaller-than-expected Q3 loss — Taipei, Oct. 5 (CNA) Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC Corp. (é") on Monday reported a lower-than-expected loss per share for the third quarter thanks to company-wide measures to reduce costs.
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Philips is adding a new HomeKit-compatible bridge to its Hue lighting system, and you can trade in your existing bridge for a price cut.
Guest author Per Ek is the executive vice president of CloudMe, a European sync and storage service.
The race is heating up for cloud companies, as some of the largest players battle it out over how much storage they can offer and at what price point. That may seem like a great thing—who wouldn't want more cloud storage for less?—but the reality is that everything has a cost. In this case, the price may be innovation and sacrifices in the user experience.
However, this may be a great opportunity for smaller tech companies willing to take up the mantle of cloud innovation. In fact, smaller tech companies that support the free flow of ideas may be better innovators anyway, since larger organizations are often bloated, and mired in "red tape" and corporate politics. In a recent study from BPI Network, which surveyed 250 executives at firms of all sizes, roughly 40 percent said that their industries were being up-ended by startups. Meanwhile, 57 percent believe that big organizations make things harder on themselves by resisting change.
Innovation matters in all aspects of technology, but that’s especially true for rapidly growing sectors like the cloud services. Here’s how smaller players may be better positioned to push this industry forward.Freedom of Innovation
The cloud refers to the software and services that run online instead of locally on your device and, unlike many areas of technology, it holds some staying power. The tools behind it may mature, but 5 years from now, no one will debut a "new cloud."
Instead, its evolution will be in specific areas, such as feature sets, capabilities and user experience. While the major competitors quibble over price, the so-called “little guys” can focus on hiring and driving employees in areas like cross-platform and device functionality, accessibility, enhanced personalization.
Without being bogged down by excessive corporate policies or processes, smaller companies have more freedom to promote out-of-the-box thinking and cultivate off-beat ideas that can contribute to the cloud’s evolution. They are often more nimble and adaptable, and can act quickly to allocate resources or address problems. Meanwhile, their team-oriented structures can provide a supportive environment. The less hierarchical approach allows CEOs and VPs to openly collaborate with younger team members, combining experience with a fresh perspective.
Believe it or not, the tech giants are probably rooting for the little guys to spur innovation. Larger organizations are always on the lookout for companies that are bringing new concepts to the industry. Small companies with new ideas are ripe for partnerships or acquisitions. Scooping up ingenious businesses has become a common practice for the Microsofts and Googles of the world.
Consider Google’s $25 million acquisition of DocVerse. This deal wound up accelerating Google Docs, which offered users an easy way to collaborate and share information, and gave the tech giant a strong foothold in cloud documents.Know Thy Customer
By the end of 2015, users are projected to spend more than $180 billion on cloud services. A market that size, however, will likely cover an array of vastly different customer needs.
Too bad that, in an attempt to gain the largest number of customers, providers tend to over-generalize user requirements, lumping them into one or a few one-size fits all categories. For customers, it’s tantamount to getting a self-storage service in the cloud, instead of the condominium they expected. They may have a lot of cheap square feet, but not a place to live.
Personalized services can make a difference here, if they fulfill unique individual needs and provide a rich user experience.
Since smaller companies tend to have fewer users, theoretically, it should be much easier for them to get a handle on what makes their customers tick. That’s critically important: According to Defaqto Research, 55 percent of consumers would pay more for a better customer experience. Startups that can get to know their customers, understand who they are, how they are using their services and anticipate their future needs will have an advantage. They can use the information to tailor their services.
Customers may also appreciate dealing with a smaller operation, because they can actually engage the provider more easily. If you offer increased transparency on how your cloud service operates, even better. All too often, large companies put up opaque walls that can make end users uneasy about how their data will be managed.
"More cloud storage for less" may sound like an appealing pitch initially, but it won’t be enough to keep users interested in the long term. What will keep them sticking around are cloud services that address consumer needs with some innovation—and a lot of thoughtfulness. Smaller shops have a prime opportunity right now, if they can recognize the opportunity and step up to deliver.
Lead photo by Chris Potter
Chris Welch / The Verge:
Sony and Verizon cancel launch of Xperia Z4v smartphone — After failing to deliver it on time for a summer release target, Verizon and Sony today announced that they've decided to completely cancel plans to launch the Xperia Z4v in the United States. The move represents a significant blow …
Guest author Baron Schwartz, an expert in MySQL, is the founder of VividCortex and the author of “High Performance MySQL.” He has helped build and scale some of the world's largest web, social, gaming, and mobile properties.
The industry is rapidly embracing Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS), cloud offering for companies looking to rent access to digital data warehouses managed by an external provider.
Although company-run databases won’t ever completely go away, the rise of DBaaS can free many organizations of all sizes from the drudgery of maintaining their own local database systems. The primary benefits are that it can streamline operations and reduce cost—freeing the business to focus on developing their core products or services.
Sounds great, though choosing a provider can be a tricky proposition. You’re essentially trusting a vendor with your company’s data, and that's no small matter. To pick a service and provider that’s right for your organization, start with these fundamental considerations.The Fundamentals Of Selecting DBaaS
To evaluate DBaaS providers, you’ll want to start by considering the following factors:Your Company’s Needs
Generally, you should think about whether the ecosystem you’re buying into is robust and well-suited to your needs.
Consider how you see your company and your tech stack growing and changing in the future. Outline what your company wants and needs out of a database, and then pick a set of technologies accordingly. If you want to use the public cloud, you have plenty of choices, including Amazon, Microsoft Azure, HP Helion, Rackspace, IBM Cloud, and so on. For a private cloud, VMware, OpenStack and others may be what you’re looking for.Tailored And Preconfigured Solutions
There are two main DBaaS types to choose from: a widely used database (DB) solution (like PostgreSQL or MySQL, which is hosted and managed for you), or a proprietary DB (like DynamoDB, which isn’t available elsewhere).
Both have benefits and drawbacks. Hosted or managed DBs can let you transition to other databases or service providers—such as Amazon RDS for MySQL to your own MySQL—with relative ease. Proprietary DBs are more limiting and pose a lock-in risk. However, the latter can leverage the provider’s platform in more powerful ways.
If you’ve taken a hard look at your company’s needs (see above), then you’ll want to assess those priorities against the pros and cons of both DB types.Edge Cases
After determining which service would best fit your company, explore the DBaaS providers in this sector. There are far too many to mention here, but here’s an idea of the breadth of choices:
- Amazon’s RDS offers a variety of databases like Aurora, MySQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle, and SQL Server.
- AWS also offers cloud-native databases, like Dynamo, Redshift, and ElastiCache.
- Microsoft Windows Azure SQL Database or Azure DocumentDB.
- Google’s databases include Cloud Bigtable and CloudSQL.
- OpenStack Trove offers MySQL, PostgreSQL, MongoDB, Cassandra, Couchbase, Redis, Vertica, and DB2. Tesora, in particular, extends this to offer additional features and databases including Oracle.
- Others include Heroku Postgres, Salesforce.com, and IBM Cloudant.
There’s a reason database management continues to evolve over time: no management solution is perfect for everyone. DBaaS is highly evolved compared to the options available 10 years ago, but it still has issues, including limitations in flexibility or performance in specific situations. That can challenge many developers to architect their app to the strengths and avoid the limitations.
Still, DBaaS represents a fundamental shift in data management as servers become replaced by automation, platforms, and services. Even if you’re not ready to take advantage of this next step in the evolution of databases, awareness and preparation now could pay dividends for your next product or service, allowing you to out-innovate and out-compete in your market.
Lead photo by KamiPhuc
Google has finally released Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Here's the new stuff you need to check out first.
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Russia tells Google to remove app bundling requirements in Android OEM contracts by Nov. 18 (Drew Olanoff/TechCrunch)
Drew Olanoff / TechCrunch:
Russia tells Google to remove app bundling requirements in Android OEM contracts by Nov. 18 — Russia's Regulators: Google Has Until November 18th To Play Fair — Early last month, Russia's FAS (Federal Antimonopoly Service) stated that Google had violated Russian competition rules with its stock apps in Android.
Hurricane Joaquin blustered up and down the coast, flooding Instagram with photos of the aftermath.
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