Image | S Health
The podometers were first: apparatus whose function was counting steps. With smartphones, data transfer and GPS, a vast quantity of apps were produced which measure distance travelled, calories and so on, as well as wearables such as smartwatches, which connect to your telephone and use it as a “brain”. The most attractive novelty among manufacturers, however, is now taking on a different form: mobile phones which show, manage and treat all the user health data which comes in through its own sensors or from external apparatus.
Samsung, for example, includes the functionality S Health in the Galaxy S4, launched in 2013. It’s the phone itself which acts as a podometer, and also allows you to introduce data such as arterial tension or glucose indicators via other compatible devices. In the S5, launched during MWC14, they went even further, and detected users’ pulses. We’d like to point out that this isn’t done by an app – the pulse is detected by the mobile’s own operating system. This was one of the first manufacturers to give health and personalised measurement such a prominent role in its mobiles, but not the last.
Microsoft, with Windows Phone, was another of the first to see the potential of this type of health-orientated solution. The Windows Phone 8.1 doesn’t just act as a podometer, but also has an app, an improved Bing Health & Fitness, which gives details about activity, offers other useful information and even can act as a nutritional guide.
Two of the most recent players to join the mHealth party have been Apple and Google. Apple, with the new iOS 8, wanted to emphasise this, with functionalities such as HealthKit. This records things like sleep and calories burned, and even features a history where each user can include their medical conditions. Furthermore, they’ve put special emphasis on opening these characteristics up to third parties: anyone can design an app which allows you to store data of this type.
After numerous rumours, Google also decided to take the leap with Google Fit. In the same way as previous examples, this is a health, monitoring and fitness platform which works with top-level partners, such as Nike, Adidas, RunKeeper and Polar. The idea is the same: collect data from a variety of devices and apps, and put it together in one place.
Why are all the manufacturers and even owners of the main mobile operating systems currently trying to find their niche in mHealth? One reason might be because there’s an increasing interest in fitness and sports apps on behalf of users. Being healthy is always in fashion, and we’re using all the electronic help we can to achieve this.
Image | Flurry
In fact, statistics company Flurry recently published a report whose statistics spoke for themselves: although between December 2013 and June 2014, in general, app use has increased by 33%, if we focus solely on health-related apps this figure grows to 62%. According to another study published by Forbes, it’s hoped that by 2017 30% of the American population will use some kind of wearable device to monitor their activity.
Another reason is that the person with the data is the one really in control. Instead of telephones which act like mere “nerve centres” and simply synchronise accounts, manufacturers want to be something greater. They want to possess this data. They want to be the people who those with the apps go to in order to consult all their different data, and get the most out of it in one centralised place without having to put their phone down. The mobile’s OS already knows where we travel, now it can also discover what we do, how many calories we use up and how, with the objective of improving our health.
The mHealth competence centre forms part of Mobile World Capital Barcelona’s Programme of International Competence Centers (PCCI). mHealth works with a three-fold objective: to identify mobile technology opportunities in the provision of health services, to transform current healthcare models and processes, and promote the interoperability of health services in the field of mobile technologies and connectivity, building foundations that make it possible to integrate mobile health solutions.
Mobile World Capital presents a global vision that effectively integrates mobile technologies into the fabric of the industries transforming our lives. Committed to expanding the mobile experience throughout Barcelona, Catalonia and Spain with strong support of the public and private sector.
Mobile World Capital is leading mobile transformation through commitments in Competence Centres, local Industry Development, and Entrepreneurship and Innovation programmes.
MWCapital offers an open platform and exhibition showroom where citizens can understand and experience how mobile is enhancing our lives: The Mobile World Centre, located in the heart of Barcelona on Plaza Catalunya.