Wearable computing's ROI: Measured in health care outcomes?

The gamification of diet and exercise has already started — as has the sharing of health information voluntarily. Just wait until the health care discounts kick in.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor on

Wearable computing has been a hot topic as Google Glass garners more attention, but the real return on investment to society may ultimately revolve around health care outcomes.


People are already using devices like Jawbone to monitor their health stats. Nike FuelBand and a host of other devices track steps and movement. Smartphones can track your movement during the day. The gamification of diet and exercise has already started — as has the sharing of health information voluntarily.

Mary Meeker, a venture capitalist at Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, outlined her annual state of the Internet presentation at the D11 conference on Wednesday. Amid the facts and figures were a few notable slides connecting wearable devices and health care.

Here are the money slides regarding health care.



Where do we go from here?

That fourth slide notes that a lot of health care issues revolve around behavior. Wearable devices are likely to be used by insurers and your company to attempt to lower health costs. Your company may hand you a FitBit. Using government funded health care? Well, you'll have to wear some device for coverage. Would you track your movement and diet for a 10 percent discount? What about 25 percent? Would you wear a device just for coverage? You bet. 

In the end, we all may wind up wearing Jawbone, an exercise tracking device, and hooking up our eyewear, clothing and shoes to monitoring systems. We'll do it to share. We'll do it to be healthier. And we'll do it for the money and the discounts.

Of course, it's also worth noting that obese people who smoke and slam beers with their cereal are likely to scream. But if the financial carrots are large enough, these folks may hop on the wearable device bandwagon too.


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