Every tech major is working on developing a platform to track the users’ health, and now even the search engine giant Google (GOOG) has expressed its desire to introduce a health recording device called the Google Fit. According to several sources close to the matter, the new health service would gather and collate data from various health tracking devices and apps. Forbes reported that Google could unveil the service at the developers conference scheduled for June 25 and 26.
Not the First Attempt
The space of health tracking is not something new to the company. The Mountain View based company had tried its hands in this segment way back in 2008 when it came out with a personal health information service called Google Health which allowed the users to lock in their health record either manually or by logging into the account. However, the company closed this service in 2011 due to lack of encouraging feedback and widespread acceptance. It did not gain popularity among patients and healthcare provider.
Derek Newell, CEO of healthcare platform Jiff, believes that one of the major reasons why Google Health did not succeed was that it was not created to give feedback on the health record of the user. The market was not as developed then, but now things have matured with all big names involved in tracking user fitness.
Google Fit will pull data from open APIs – a combination of functions that will enable data sharing of applications and operating platforms. An anonymous source said that Google Fit would be like an intermediary between wearable devices (the health data monitor) and Google’s cloud based interface. At the I/O conference the company will declare the names of its wearable device partners.
It’s still not known if Google Fit would be a built-in feature integrated in the next Android version, or be available as a standalone application to be downloaded from Google Play by Android users. When questioned in this regard, the company declined to make any comments. But it’s quite apparent that Google Fit would be structured in such a way so that it can connect with Android wear, the operating system designed for Google’s smartwatch and other wearable devices.
Creating such health devices has been quite a task for techs that are foraying in this realm, be it Google, Microsoft (MSFT), or Apple (AAPL). There are several difficulties concerning its development – from maintaining privacy, processing health data in the safest and most accurate manner, to drawing inferences and providing essential feedback without swerving into the zone of FDA diagnosis.
But that hasn’t deterred the tech biggies from digging into this arena. This is evident from the fact that all major players have their names in the development of health devices. So we know that Google Fit will have contending products in the market.
Google Fit would be rivaled by Apple’s HealthKit that was launched by the Cupertino-based tech major early this month. The iPhone maker is scheduled to roll out its health service along with iOS 8 this fall. The HealthKit would also run in a similar fashion. It will collect data from health tracking wearable devices and apps to create a consolidated health record of the user.
Just before Apple went public regarding the HealthKit, last month South Korean phone maker Samsung (SSNLF) also revealed its health data tracking platform called the Sami (Samsung Architecture for Multimodal Interactions). The company has been trying to reduce its reliance on Google’s software. If in the next Android version Google adds Google Fit, chances are high that Samsung would replace it with Sami.
Microsoft already has a web-based platform called HealthVault that maintains health information. The platform was launched in 2010. Later during this year, the Redmond-based company will introduce its own smartwatch that will measure health fitness. But it’s not known if the Windows maker is planning to unveil a health data platform.
The advent of wearable devices era opens up various avenues, most important being tracking user health. This could bring the next wave of growth for the tech majors. Google’s move into designing such services was quite an expected step considering that all big names are dabbling ways to come out with such offering. The move could make big money for the company if it’s able to effectively tap into the massive health industry.