Issue No. 216: CES Healthtech Rundown

Illustration: Courtney Powell

The future of healthtech has arrived, and the industry’s hype machine is in overdrive.

What’s happening: CES, the world’s largest consumer electronics tradeshow, hosted 2K+ exhibitors this past weekend. Taking center stage, health and fitness companies showcased the latest innovations designed to revolutionize well-being.

Tracking all the developments and linking them with emerging trends, here’s a rundown of what to watch.

Next-Gen Wearables

From smart rings to skin patches to the latest generation of wrist-worn devices, wearables makers are broadening both form and function.

  • Movano showed off its women’s health-focused smart ring, Evie.
  • NOWATCH displayed its wrist-worn biometric tracker for measuring and predicting stress.
  • Baracoda launched BHeart, a wearable health tracker with “infinite battery life” powered by its user’s own movement.
  • Samsung presented its Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, a rugged, satellite GPS-enabled answer to Apple’s Ultra.
  • High-end watchmaker CITIZEN launched a smartwatch with “alertness-sensing” technology borrowed from NASA and IBM Watson.
  • Epicore Biosystems unveiled a hydration-focused skin patch that measures real-time sweat and electrolyte loss, skin temperature, thermal flux, and motion tracking.
  • Oxa Life debuted breath- and heart rate-sensing garments that act as mindfulness trainers.
  • Halo debuted Sleep Sure, an overnight wearable for babies.

What’s trending: As adoption grows, the global fitness tracker market is set to top $139B by 2028. At the same time, more consumers are tracking detailed health metrics like heart rate variability, sleep, and body temperature. Moving further in that direction, devices that monitor hydration, stress, and alertness headlined CES.

Space-Saving Connected Fitness

Seeking mass appeal and greater accessibility, connected fitness is downsizing.

  • King Smith Fitness brought four new products to the show: a foldable water rower, a portable electromagnetic resistance training platform, and senior-aged and heavier-individual versions of its foldable WalkingPad treadmill.
  • Dutch fitness mirror maker FITTAR launched Smart Box, an exergaming motion-capture device similar to Tempo Move and Peloton Guide.

What’s trending: More than the types of products unveiled, the lack of activity in the connected fitness space is telling. After two years of record growth, the tide has officially turned as consumer demand and investor interest wane. While hybrid workouts have outlasted the pandemic, bulky, expensive equipment might not.

Smart Medical Devices

Bringing prevention and personalization to healthcare, tech-enabled solutions are on the rise.

  • Withings introduced a toilet bowl-affixed device called U-Scan designed to analyze biometrics from urine concentration.
  • OMRON, makers of a wrist-worn smart blood cuff, announced an expansion of its remote patient monitoring service, including two-way access to its health coaching platform for patient care teams.
  • NuraLogix’s demonstrated its Anura app’s ability to read 30+ vital signs from a video of your face, while i-Virtual’s smartphone selfie (Caducy) can measure heart rate, breathing rate, stress level, and heart rate variability.
  • Samsung launched a telemedicine app for its smart TVs, paired with a facial-scanning camera that reads heart rate, heart rate variability, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation, and stress.
  • Valencell, a manufacturer of optical heart rate technology used by Suunto and Samsung, debuted an inexpensive, cuffless blood pressure monitor that clips on your finger.

What’s trending: Bridging the gap between consumer wellness and clinically validated diagnostics, the hope is that we’re able to reimagine our broken sick care system. A work in progress, Big Tech’s growing interest paired with innovation in prescription wearables could bring about a paradigm shift.

Elsewhere: Advancements in sleeptech and new fitness products rounded out the best of the rest, including:

  • Sustainability-focused cycling tech in the form of Acer’s laptop-charging bike desk and TruKinetix’s self-powering bike and trainer.
  • Ergomotion’s ErgoSportive smart bed with Garmin integration — a new rival for Eight Sleep.
  • Health-tracking digital twins in the fitness metaverse from ITRI and vSports by Impakt.
  • Yukai Engineering’s huggable, breath-monitoring sleep pillow similar to Somnox’s Sleep Robot.
  • An eye movement-tracking sleep mask from Somalytics that detects REM with lightweight paper-composite sensors.

Looking ahead: Innovation aside, the elephant in the room remains — mainly, will any of this tech actually make us healthier?

Healthtech boomed in recent years, benefiting from record levels of investment and increased emphasis on personal well-being. But now, as investors warn founders to prepare for the worst, driving business returns and health outcomes will replace growth at all costs as the industry’s new measures of success.

🎙 On the Podcast

From side project to Shark Tank and more than $20M in 2021 revenue, Bala co-founder Max Kislevitz stopped by to tell us about the company’s design-forward approach to fitness accessories.

We also cover: finding success with reimagined ankle weights, growing rapidly during the pandemic, and “Balaifying” new fitness products.

Listen to today’s episode here

🤝 Tom Brady’s TB12 teams with Brandon Marshall’s House of Athlete

TB12, the athletic performance company co-founded by Tom Brady, announced a partnership with House of Athlete, an elite-level training brand founded by former NFLer Brandon Marshall.

Expansion mode. TB12 coaching will now be offered at two HOA facilities in Florida, popular destinations for NFL Combine participants.

Going mainstream, TB12 opened locations inside physical therapy clinics in Philly and West Palm Beach last year. It also piloted a health and wellness curriculum for school-age kids.

Of note, Marshall’s House of Athlete is also branching out with the launch of HOA+, a fitness app delivering live and on-demand coaching. Like TB12, HOA’s gyms and new digital offering take a holistic approach spanning performance, nutrition, recovery, mental health, and more.

Holistic performance. As pros put more emphasis on athletic longevity, holistic performance is trickling down to everyday exercisers.

In recent years, brands like WHOOP, Hyperice, and Therabody tapped athlete ambassadors and investors to introduce recovery tech to the masses.

But now, like Brady and Marshall, more athletes are starting performance-focused companies of their own.

  • Last month, Serena Williams debuted Will Perform, a recovery brand she co-founded and invested in from her venture fund.
  • Last fall, former NBA star Steve Nash launched BLOCK, a training app focused on athletic longevity.
  • In September, NFLer Russell Wilson raised $2.5M for his mental fitness app Limitless Minds.

Punchline: Pioneering new training protocols and then unlocking access, athletes are cashing in by selling their secrets to fitness seekers — all while owning a bigger piece of the pie.

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💪 CorePower Yoga unveils strength-based format

The high-intensity class, called Strength X, features elements of circuit training, Tabata, and plyometrics with heavier weights and resistance bands.

Developed with Nike Master Trainer Branden Collinsworth, it’s the brand’s first new class concept in 10 years.

Stronger. Strength training has overtaken cardio workouts as the most popular style of exercise while, according to Life Time, building muscle passed losing weight as the primary goal of working out.

Plus, per Mindbody, “sculpt” classes—usually resistance training blended with another modality like yoga or Pilates—were the fastest-growing workout of 2022, with class bookings growing 471% YoY.

Strength+. As exercisers reach for the weights, “strength+” is coming to more group fitness classes.

  • Last fall, [solidcore] founder Anne Mahlum raised $5M to launch a new holistic strength and conditioning concept.
  • After pausing its pilot for the pandemic, Barry’s relaunched its RIDE x LIFT cycling/strength training combo class late last year.
  • In October, World Gym announced a strength-only boutique club called World Gym Legacy.
  • This year, Crunch Fitness will add four new strength-centered HIIT classes (two including barbells) to its programming.

Looking ahead: With as much as 60% of US adults never participating in any form of muscle-strengthening exercises, new blended class formats could introduce a wider audience to weight training.

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📰 News & Notes

  • Peloton pays $19M fine for Tread+ incidents.
  • APP says 36.5M adults played pickleball last year.
  • lululemon’s stock slides on shrinking profit margins.
  • Apple adds sleep meditation and kickboxing to Fitness+.
  • Neutrogena taps Nourished for 3D-printed skincare supps.
  • Fitt Jobs: Your guide to careers in the health & fitness industry.
  • Digital health startups raised fewer, smaller funding rounds in 2022.
  • WHOOP, Athletic Brewing team up to study users’ Dry January metrics.
  • Startup Q&A: Basecamp Fitness’s Ben Camper on ultra-efficient exercise.
  • Season Health, healthAlign partner on food-as-medicine benefits for seniors.

💰 Money Moves

  • Allergy care platform Nectar pulled in $16.5M in Series A funding led by Harmony Partners.
  • GLOWBAR, a chain of skincare boutiques, closed a $10M Series A round led by Peterson Partners.
  • CVS Health led a $25M investment into digital mental platform Array Behavioral Care.
  • Athlete investing platform Patricof Co invested $5M in Iowa-based corn and soybean producer Bolton Farm on behalf of the NFL’s Joe Burrow, the NBA’s Blake Griffin, and others.
  • Herself Health, an advanced primary care platform for women 65+, secured $7M in a seed round led by Juxtapose.
  • Women-focused mental telehealth platform LunaJoy closed a $2.4M seed round.
  • Tespo Health Holdings, maker of a liquid vitamin dispenser, raised $4.18M in funding.
  • Consumer diagnostics firm imaware landed $1.5M from Dublin-based clinical diagnostics company Trinity Biotech.
  • Perpetual Capital Partners, operator of 19 California Family Fitness locations, acquired In-Shape Solutions, operator of 44 In-Shape Health Clubs.
  • Wisdo Health, a social health and loneliness platform, raised $5M in a Series A round.
  • Prescribe FIT, a lifestyle coaching platform for orthopedic clinics, raised $4M in a seed round led by Tamarind Hill.
  • Keto protein bar maker IQBAR landed undisclosed funding in a Series B round led by Belgian snack maker Lotus Bakeries.
  • MTNTOUGH, developer of training for backcountry and tactical athletes, raised $870K in debt financing.
  • The RYL Company, makers of functional tea beverages, landed $6.7M in new funding.
    More from Fitt Insider: Functional Beverage Boom
  • Rendever, creator of VR therapies for seniors, acquired Alcove, a consumer VR platform co-developed by AARP.
  • Liberation Labs, producer of precision fermented alt-protein ingredients, closed $20M in a seed round co-led by Agronomics and Siddhi Capital.
  • UK-based nonalcoholic brewer Lucky Saint raised £10M ($12M) in a Series A round.
  • Lucas Bols, a Dutch cocktails company, acquired nonalcoholic spirits maker Fluère for €1M ($1.05M).
  • Hometown Food Company, owner of multiple baking brands, acquired Birch Benders, a brand of keto and paleo pancake mixes.

Today’s newsletter was brought to you by Anthony Vennare, Joe Vennare, and Ryan Deer.

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