Fitbit just defeated its rival, Jawbone. And now, it’s getting to compete directly with Apple Watch as it’s reported to investing in a start-up called Sano. It’s a company that creates a small patch to monitor blood sugar levels, which is helpful for people with diabetes.
The Cupertino company, on the other hand, is said to be working on a non-invasive glucose monitor.
Millions of people have diabetes or pre-diabetes
Over 100 million people in the US are suffering from diabetes or pre-diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For that reason, having a smartwatch with a blood-sugar tracking feature could be a strategic move.
Both the FDA and Apple are looking into a future where wearables can be considered as medical devices. Recently, the FDA just approved a medical device accessory for Apple’s wearable. Furthermore, the company could be making its smartwatch into an EKG.
Now, if Fitbit could integrate glucose-tracking functionality in its upcoming device, then it could boost its market share. In the last quarter, the company only sold 3.6 million devices. It was a significant reduction from the 5.3 million devices it sold in 2016 of the same quarter.
Therefore, it’s a strategic move for the company to invest in Sano as it could reposition itself and its products. According to Fitbit’s CEO, James Park:
“This fits into our strategy of looking beyond the device and thinking more about (health) solutions. I think the complete solution comes in the form of having some monitoring solution that is coupled with a display, and a wearable that can give you the interventions at the right moment.”
The company has already partnered with Medtronic and Dexcom. Despite his admission that his company is investing in Sano, Park declined to comment on whether Fitbit’s future includes built-in glucose tracking.
However, Sano’s method of tracking blood sugar levels is different from Apple’s. The reason for this is that it involves tiny needles, while Apple’s functionality is non-invasive. Even though it’s invasive, Sano’s device is less painful than the alternatives because the patch won’t penetrate the skin deeply. Furthermore, it’s a cheaper option than its alternatives.
The device will not be available for a year. Then, the patch is likely to be designed for Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. Patients with pre-diabetes could use it. Or it could be utilized by individuals who are curious about how food could affect their blood sugar levels.
However, experts are wondering whether or not a noninvasive approach to monitoring glucose could be reliable or accurate. Johnson & Johnson had tried it before, but it was unsuccessful.
On the other hand, if the deal with Sano is more of an investment than a partnership, then it would Fitbit’s first time to partner with the industry.
The fitness wearable industry is indeed making a New Year’s resolution — it wants to be more than just a wearable and desires to be taken more seriously.