Wearable Fitness Devices All Set To Rule The Health Economy

Published: 15th March 2015 06:02 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th March 2015 06:02 AM   |  A+A-


Twelve per cent of consumers around the world are already using wearable gadgets to improve their wellness. The devices measure the calories you burn with every step or gain with each bite of food, monitor your heartbeat and even chronicle your sleeping pattern. India may not be leading the market, but is definitely part of the game. Sensing the potential, electronics and consumer goods companies like Samsung, LG, Sony, Basis, Nike and Adidas have launched such devices in India.

Mohammed Hussain Naseem quit Infosys Technologies’ healthcare vertical to make and sell fitness trackers under the brand GetActive. Within the first year of operations, GetActive boasts high-profile customers like Azim Premji, chairman of Wipro Ltd, Ashook Soota, executive chairman and co-founder of Happiest Minds Technologies, and Prof. S Sadagopan, founder-director of the International Institute of Information Technology, Bengaluru. “When we launched it in 2012-13, sales uptick was slow but 2014 was a bumper year. With increasing awareness, we are also seeing traction from smaller towns. It’s not just an urban-centric phenomenon anymore,” explains Naseem, who started out by selling 25,999 units in December 2014 but plans to cross the one-lakh mark, soon. Interestingly, 60 per cent of GetActive’s customers are men.

According to Jupiter Research, volumes of wearable devices globally are expected to touch 150 million by 2018, 10 times that of last year. As per IDTechEx, global spending on wearable technology will be $70 billion in 2024 from $14 billion in 2014.

However, the Indian market is still nascent. “In 5-10 years from now, wearable technology will become a huge hit. The future lies here,” says Vishal Gondal, Founder, GOQii (pronounced Go-Key), who counts Madhuri Dixit-Nene and husband Shriram Nene among its investors. Gondal, who sold his venture IndiaGames to Walt Disney for $100 million in 2011, is backed by a marquee list of angel investors, including WhatsApp’s Neeraj Arora, Google’s Rajan Anandan, Microsoft’s S Somasegar, Amazon’s Marco Argenti, Flextronics’ Mike McNamara and Seagate’s Steve Luczo. Similarly, GetActive is funded by investors like TV Mohandas Pai and Sharad Hedge. The investor commitment in start-ups involving wearable and fitness bands is indicative of the business potential they hold in India and abroad.

As per a FICCI-PwC report, the country’s fitness and wellness market is likely to swell to a staggering Rs l lakh crore by 2015. A recent cross-country survey by Ericsson found that just a quarter of our 1.3 billion population is completely satisfied with their wellness, opening up a huge market for fitness products. And, 55 per cent of consumers already want a wearable ecometer to select the most environmentally friendly commuting choice. The report further added that on a country level, only 1 per cent of Japanese and South Korean consumers are completely satisfied with their wellness, however as many as 29 per cent of Indians and 36 per cent of South Africans are satisfied. 

“Getting fit isn’t difficult. Most people falter with diet and consistency. Lack of time and regular motivation are key challenges in today’s hectic environment. What users need is constant reinforcement, counseling from the world’s best coaches and a cause to remain motivated,” explains celebrity fitness trainer Satyajit Chaurasia, renowned for shaping up Aamir Khan in Ghajini. Gondal roped in Satyajit as personalised coach for GOQii users besides other reputed fitness trainers. He intends to have at least 10,000 trainers by 2016, so that every fitness band user has a dedicated personal trainer. “Combining GOQii band, with personal trainer is our USP and has been loved by users. Today, we have close to 10,000 active users in less than a year of commercial operations, which is significant,” says Gondal, who is now venturing into the US, South East Asia and the Middle East.

According to a Digital Consumer Tech Survey 2014, consumers in India are ranked highest in their interest in buying wearable technologies. About 80 per cent Indians were most interested in buying fitness monitors for tracking physical activity and managing their personal health. With growing market potential, more domestic players like Ahmedabad-based Azoi Inc and Kochi-based SenseGiz and global brands like Puma and Samsung are entering the field.

Health, they say, is wealth. With the help of gadgets, you can monitor and manage both in the same discipline. What’s more, they also add an element of enterprise to healthcare, something the corporate world is familiar with.

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