The school-focused health tracker company MOVABLE is prepping a product that connects to the cloud to eventually give the gym class the personalized feel of a Wii Fit workout.
MOVABLE, which along with MedCityNews.com is a portfolio company of Hatch Partners, is privately testing a “MOVband+” that lets users of the wristband pedometer upload their movements online, track their progress and compare themselves to groups of people. The new version, planned for a September release, will not only deepen the relationship with the company’s education customers, but allow it to better sell into companies with wellness programs.
“We’re Fitbit with a business model and we’re one-third of the price, which makes it affordable,” said Blake Squires, MOVABLE’s CEO.
Health trackers abound and the devices are seen as part of the solution for weight loss-eager Americans and organizations that want to encourage healthy living to cut the costs of healthcare. It’s a crowded space with the likes of Fitbit, Nike and Virgin all with their own products.
MOVABLE, based in Cleveland, Ohio, is a newcomer that differentiates itself by focusing on school systems. The original MOVband was sold to help with school fundraisers and simply tracked and recorded (on paper) the achievements of the participants.
The new product, MOVband+, is built to help schools tap into federal grant money for physical education — a $36 million pot of cash — by meeting requirements to report activity data and improve the experience in the gym class.
Educators — or human resource professionals at companies — are able to go online to manage devices and groups, monitor progress and communicate through a messaging system. Data can be downloaded in a spreadsheet format. The MOVband+ downloads software on a user’s computer, who then enters his height, weight and other details to better measure individual movements; and he can then track how he is doing compared to others.
The next step is developing additional cloud-based services that would let a PE teacher create a customized curriculum for each student — tracking progress, setting goals and allowing the teacher to manage and engage. Think Khan Academy and the flipped classroom concept meets gym class. Those new features could be out around midyear 2013.
“Individualized lesson plans are happening in every other classroom but PE,” Squires said. “You can’t put technology in a gym setting.”
Squires said the new device should cost about $30 apiece — including access to the cloud services — though it’s unclear yet whether they will come with some kind of subscription fee. Fitbit, by comparison, costs about $100 apiece and offers a premium service that costs $49.99. Fitbit also has a corporate program, which does not offer any pricing. Some companies using Fitbit for their wellness programs price it out at $75 per person.
MOVABLE is raising money, though Squires declined to elaborate. They have about 50 customers — 80 percent come from education — which buy an average of 200 devices, he said.