Philips wearables: Philips enters the wearables space with a suite of devices

Philips enters the wearables space with a suite of medical grade devices

Philips has, today, joined the increasingly crowded market for wearables with its own health platform and ecosystem. But forget about pretty gadgets and trendy apps – these are no frills devices that are targeted at the older generation.

The company says, the health suite is the first in a larger product line of smart medical-grade devices to come. The five gadgets are listed with the FDA and include a health watch (view on Amazon), a body analysis scale (view on Amazon), an ear thermometer (view on Amazon), an upper arm blood pressure monitor (view on Amazon) and a wrist blood pressure monitor.

They all sync with the Philips smartphone mobile app allowing users to monitor all their metrics from a central dashboard and hub. According to Philips, the devices were developed with leading doctors and behavioural psychologists to create long-term changes in health.

“Philips is not in the world of fitness,” said Eline de Graaf, Director for Philips Personal Health Solutions.

“That’s not our mission, and as a healthcare company, we don’t think that’s where we can add value. We’re in the connected health space, and target consumer who are at risk of chronic diseases.”

Based on specs and design, none of these devices are particularly special. The rather plain looking Philips health watch sports a black and white display covered in Gorilla Glass, and features auto-tracking for running, walking, biking and sleep. There is also Philips’ own proprietary optical heart rate sensor which tracks your ticker 24/7. While these are fairly standard metrics we are accustomed to seeing these days, don’t look for SMS and email notification or third-party app support – you won’t find it.

A somewhat unique feature is the resting respiration rate. The watch will provide you with the number of breaths you take per minute. This is usually measured at rest. Resting respiration rates can increase with fever, illness and other medical conditions.

It will also provide you with the VO2 max value – that is the highest rate of oxygen consumption with maximum physical exercise. This is something that is a standard feature of any self-respecting running watch. VO2 max reflects one’s aerobic physical fitness.

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Its a similar story with the other devices. The two blood pressure monitors seem pretty decent, but they do not do anything more than other connected blood pressure monitors. The thermometer takes body temperature and does so within two seconds. Finally, the smart scale looks very similar to scales we’ve seen from a host of other manufacturers such as Fitbit, Withings and Garmin.

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“When you begin talking with health systems and physician groups, that medical-device part of the equation becomes more important—knowing that it’s been designed with the right clinical validation and protocols in place,” de Graaf added.

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It is clear that Philips is not targeting fitness enthusiasts with the suite of new devices. These are gadgets that are targeted for consumers who are at risk of chronic, lifestyle-related conditions such as high blood pressure or heart disease, and who may not have considered a health wearable in the past.

“This approach encourages small and sustainable behavior changes through a combination of connected, medical-grade health measurement devices, app-based health programs and cloud-based data analysis,” Philips says.

By taking the extra step and listing with the FDA, Philips is hoping to instil confidence in the quality of its devices. This also opens up the potential for these gadgets to be recommended by doctors and even employers.

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