At last week’s annual I/O conference, Google introduced Google Fit, its new approach for obtaining a foothold in the coveted medical device sector. Google Fit joins Apple’s HealthKit and Samsung’s SAMI in trying to consolidate health data collected from different apps and wearables to get a comprehensive view of someone’s health.

At this point, the health data is expected to include heart rate, steps taken, and blood sugar level. In order to collect this data, consumers would need to utilize wearable devices with sensors that would detect needed biometric information. Examples of these devices range from smartwatches like Apple’s iWatch or Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smartwatch to Google’s smart contact lens recently discussed in a Wall Street Journal article. According to Reuters, blood glucose monitoring is at the top of the list for wearable devices, because this would make it easier for diabetics to monitor their blood sugar levels multiple times per day.

To make wearables more viable, Google and Apple have already established relationships with some of the largest sports equipment companies. Nike’s FuelBand will share the health and fitness data it gathers with the Google Fit platform. Nike has also been working closely with Apple on integration with the HealthKit platform. Furthermore, Adidas is developing a line of sensor-based health wearables that will integrate with the Google Fit platform.

These devices and the proposed data they will gather may take some time to come to full fruition. First, Google, Apple and Samsung will need approval from regulatory organizations such as the FDA. Then Google, Apple and Samsung will need consumers to feel comfortable wearing the devices and allowing their health data to be analyzed and potentially commercialized by these companies and their partners. It’s one thing for a smartwatch to share your heart rate, steps and temperature with other apps through the use of sophisticated biometric sensors. It is something entirely different for that data to be provided to marketers. While Google pointed out several times during its introduction of Google Fit that users would control what health and fitness data they allow the platform to access, consumer concern about “big brother” could make a longer runway necessary to get the widespread use of such platforms off the ground.


Ryan Lahti is the founder and managing principal of OrgLeader, LLC. Stay up to date on Ryan’s STEM-based organization tweets here: @ryanlahti