Google is set to unveil this month a unified health and fitness tracking service called “Google Fit” that would rival similar offerings from Apple and Samsung.
Currently, the data collected by numerous health and fitness apps and wearable devices are siloed in their own little systems. Pulling all these data together into a single, cloud-based, digital health platform has become a big challenge for major players in the industry.
Apple and Samsung have already unveiled their plans to offer digital health data “aggregators” that could make sense of data from disparate sources.
Not to be outdone, technology titan Google is reportedly preparing to launch its own health and fitness data platform called “Google Fit” - a service that is similar to Apple’s HealthKit and Samsung’s SAMI, according to a report by Forbes.
The report, citing multiple anonymous sources privy to Google’s plan, said that Google Fit would “collect and aggregate data from popular fitness trackers and health-related apps” through an open application programming interface (API) that would allow separate apps to share data.
The sources claim Google could formally announce the service during its Google I/O developers event on June 25-26 in San Francisco.
Google Fit would collect various health measurements such as steps, heart rate, blood sugar, temperature, and other vital signs from different wearable devices into a unified cloud-based platform.
It could be a standalone health and fitness app, but could also come baked into Google’s Android mobile operating system, or its variant Android Wear OS for wearable devices.
More information about Google Fit is expected at the Google I/O event later this month.
In early June, Apple announced its cloud-based HealthKit platform that would store information like blood pressure, blood sugar, heart rate, diet, sleep and exercise data through a new health and fitness app called “Health” which could alert providers about abnormal readings.
The platform would accept data from third-party apps and devices. Apple said it is working with Nike, the Mayo Clinic and major hospitals on how to share data seamlessly between trusted providers and consumers.
It is believed that HealthKit would integrate with Apple’s rumored iWatch device with its fitness-tracking features.
Samsung had actually beaten Apple to the punch in announcing a digital health platform, unveiling its SAMI (Samsung Architecture Multimodal Interactions) and Simband concept smartwatch in late May.
According to the company’s presentation, multiple sensors in the watch’s band would collect health data and store it in the cloud-based SAMI system.
Third-party manufacturers could make their own sensors that could be fitted inside the band of the smartwatch.
Microsoft is also reportedly readying the launch of its own smartwatch that is capable of recording heart rate continuously. It has also an existing health data platform called HealthVault since 2010.
For Google, this marks a return to offering health data services. Its first foray called Google Health was shuttered in 2012 after dismal response from consumers.
“Google Health never took off because consumers actually don’t want to aggregate their data,”
Derek Newell, chief executive officer of digital health care platform Jiff, told Forbes.
“They haven’t wanted to. What they want is information. They want meaning, rewards and a feedback loop.”
But with health-centric wearables becoming more common, Google is willing to give it another try, especially as its rivals now focus on this burgeoning field.
But experts believe privacy concerns among consumers may persist, and increased scrutiny from regulators may make it tricky for tech companies offering inherently sensitive health data services.