Electronics company Sony is jumping into the mobile health technology market, offering a business-to-business wearables solution to rival consumer-facing devices like Fitbit and the Apple Watch.
The company launched a platform, called mSafety, that combines a connected wearable device, a wristwatch, with a cloud-based backend solution to provide payers, health systems, and app developers a ready-made platform to build remote health monitoring and mobile health applications.
Sony debuted the mSafety platform at the Connected Health Conference in Boston and plans a formal rollout of the solution in 2020.
While the electronics giant offers medical technology for operating rooms and medical imaging, this is the company's first foray into mobile health and wearables. Sony is taking a different approach than Apple as the Apple Watch is a consumer-facing product. Sony's platform is a business-to-business solution that industry partners can leverage to build out and scale their own applications, according to the company.
Sony's wearable is not a smartwatch, Anders Strömberg, head of the wearable platform department at network communications, Europe, in Sony Group, told FierceHealthcare.
While the wearable watch has sensors to monitor heart rate and sleep position, developers will use the platform to build out unique features and capabilities for specific healthcare use cases, he said. It also features a Bluetooth interface to connect to external devices.
"It's a user-friendly, IoT wearable that doesn't need nearby access to a phone. It's designed for healthcare use cases to provide continuous monitoring for people living with chronic health conditions, like diabetes or cardiovascular disease, or for at-risk seniors living in their own homes," he said.
"The platform was built with a specific purpose in mind, to improve health and save lives," Strömberg said.
With the market for connected health and wellness applications and devices expected to grow to more than $600 billion in a few years, businesses both from inside and outside of healthcare are eager to capitalize. But, the cost of developing a fleet of proprietary healthcare wearables, along with managing them via a secure cloud backend solution are huge barriers to market growth, Sony executives said.
Sony's platform includes device fleet management support, including over-the-air software updates and upgrades as well as sophisticated backend technology that can support complex algorithmic intelligence and data processing, the company said.
Strömberg said Sony studied the mobile health and remote monitoring technology market to see where there were gaps that needed to be filled and saw a need for a more robust business-to-business solution.
Sony wanted to remove the technical barriers to building out mobile health applications, Strömberg said. The company leveraged its expertise in IoT connectivity to develop a platform that enables healthcare companies to build out their applications without taking on development costs.
The solution is currently being tested by several healthcare companies, including one company that is using remote monitoring to remind patients to take their medication to help improve medication adherence, Strömberg said.
Another partner is looking to use the platform to collect movement data to predict whether a user is at risk of falling and sending alerts to help them avert a fall. Sony is looking for more partners to start developing their solutions on the platform.
The wearable and mobile technology platform delivers on multiple market needs, according to the company, by offering low-energy consumption using energy-efficient IoT connectivity which leads to long wearable battery life. The wearable device is always connected and includes bi-directional communication.
The company also focused on security and privacy with end-to-end data encryption, ensuring security and privacy for data communication, according to Sony.