The newly released TRUSTe’s 2015 U.S. Internet of Things Privacy Index focuses on the Internet of Things (IoT) and captures consumer attitudes and concerns on privacy, security and data collection through smart devices.
WebMD is bringing insights to wearables with the launch of WebMD Healthy Target. Available within WebMD’s flagship mobile app for iPhone, Healthy Target is designed translate step, sleep, weight and blood glucose data from multiple well-known device manufacturers—including Entra, Fitbit, UP by Jawbone and Withings—into actionable insights.
WebMD director of mobile product development David Ziegler cites the increasing popularity of wearables as one factor in the decision to target this market. However he emphasizes that the move originated from a desire to better serve WebMD’s core audience “with a health improvement and behavior-change program.” While wearables are adept at tracking a range of user activities and behaviors, interpreting the data had been left to the users. With Healthy Target, WebMD helps users set achievable goals and pairs them with content-based insights the help them achieve those goals.
“We went into this knowing that a lot of activity trackers end up in users’ sock drawers. To date the devices only deliver the numbers; we believe that by providing contextual WebMD information and insights we can help users understand the data and learn new habits that will improve their health” says Ziegler. “And we are finding that device makers are also excited about this tool because it will keep people using their devices longer.”
The app starts off by letting users set one of six goals: 1) lose weight 2) eat healthier 3) be more active 4) control blood sugar 5) sleep better 6) feel better. Once goals are selected, Healthy Target recommends three habits that can help users reach them.
It then supports the formation of these new health habits not only by tracking and reporting on users’ progress, but also by suggesting content that helps them succeed. For example, if your goal is to sleep better, but your tracker finds you didn’t sleep well last night, the system will offer physician-reviewed suggestions to help and motivate you, or an article on what causes fatigue or a list of the effects of poor sleep.
One of Ziegler’s favorite features of WebMD Healthy Target is the way in which it provides weekly reviews that not only provide insights into users’ progress, but provides encouraging insights to help them improve and stay motivated. “For example, if you didn’t do your habit, we ask why: Were you stressed? Did you forget? Then Healthy Target generates a reading list to help you overcome those obstacles.”
For medical concerns such as diabetes, the tracker not only provides ongoing informational support, but calls-to-action if necessary. “Everything we do is physician- reviewed and for Healthy Target, we worked closely with doctors who are experts in diabetes to develop intelligence on the back end. If your levels are high or low, the tracker interrupts with a big alert on things you should do immediately.”
While the first wave of biometrics stores data in silos, WebMD wants to unify that information in one place so that users can easily gain usable insights from the behaviors they may be tracking on various devices including fitness trackers, wireless glucometers and scales. Now that the devices are beginning to mature and the data automatically updates, Ziegler believes that the time is right to combine personal, tracked data with trusted health content to help users live a healthier life.
“We want to be the central location for your personal data. People will have multiple biometric data points, but they trust WebMD to bring it to one central location.” This data, combined with physician-reviewed, contextually-relevant content and motivational tips, will support WebMD’s goal of supporting users’ in developing healthy habits that last.
Much of the buzz at CES last week surrounded wearable technology—clothing and accessories that incorporate computer and electronic technologies. Yet given that the C in CES stands for consumer, it isn’t a great surprise that much of the coverage took the form of breathless accounts of the latest toy or snarky critiques of wearable tech aesthetics. CNET.com editor at large Brian Cooley was in attendance and turned a keen eye to the wearable tech on display as he gears up for his New Content Platforms session at next week’s OPA Summit (January 22-24 in Miami, Fl.) – the 12th annual meeting for members of the Online Publishers Association.
Right now, Cooley says there are three main classes of wearable devices that marketers and content companies need to be keeping an eye on: Fitness bands, watches and glasses. To date, Google Glass has been the poster child for this emerging group of products. However Cooley says the most mature area is Fitness Bands and one that presents some very interesting opportunities for marketers. Given that on mobile devices, consumers expect increasingly personalized experiences, wearable tech offers great promise in improving data quality. “In a way,” says Cooley, “the fitness band is the other shoe we’ve been waiting to drop since mobile started.”
As he points out, “Marketers could do a lot with the data these devices gather about users’ lifestyle and behaviors.” The data gathered, says Cooley, would be almost “100 percent pure” as opposed to other forms of information gathering. “Most of the data we have now is somewhere between a good estimation and a lie. Remember that buying athletic shoes doesn’t mean someone is active.”
The opportunity for this level of granular and accurate data would allow for unrivaled content targeting. “Think about it: you could message Nyquil only to those who are sick,” he says. There are, however, still significant hurdles to overcome in tapping into this “tantalizing data,” not the least of which is the fact that device makers he has spoken to “don’t plan to give away their customer information and risk that relationship.”
Cooley also cautions those thinking about tying their messages to wearable devices to approach this highly-personalized experience carefully, noting that “the concern is intrusion, which resonates around all of these products.” While you might be able to access a photo someone took via their Glasses while out drinking with friends—and be tempted to use it to send the wearer an advertisement about their beverage of choice—marketers must balance this with consumers’ privacy concerns.
Cooley encourages content makers that are eying wearable devices to “attack consumers’ needs and keep the products at an arms distance.” While he realizes that this may not sound ideal for marketers, he says that you have to be “even more sensitive to users’ ‘personal space’ than even smartphones. Deliver information, not ‘messages’ and you’ll connect with them.”
There may also be an opportunity for content companies and marketers to work with device makers to take these products mainstream. “Wearables in general are waiting for a killer app,” says Cooley. “The fitness bands and watches aren’t doing anything too unheard of. The trick is to put it together so that there is a compelling reason to use them. While device makers are good at building the devices, helping them to that next level of relevance is an opportunity for media companies and marketers.”
At the OPA Summit, Cooley will focus on the reality, challenges and genuine opportunities presented by wearable technology. He’ll also provide attendees with users-eye-view videos to help media executives envision the best possible experiences. And following his session, attendees will have an opportunity to get their hands on several wearable devices including the Samsung Gear Smartwatch, Atiz Innovation’s Wellograph Watch and Avegant’s Glyph Headgear.