Smarten up your fettle and get well
When Shenzhen entrepreneur Gong Yu came to realize the daunting number of Chinese people being troubled by chronic diseases, she was determined to do something meaningful.
According to a World Health Organization report in 2016, about 110 million people on the Chinese mainland — nearly 10 percent of all adults — were living with diabetes. Without urgent action to improve their existing lifestyle, like lack of physical activity, the report warned, that number is expected to soar to 150 million by 2040.
Most patients know that in addition to medication, sports can help improve their situation. But, the key issue is that they don’t know how to do sports in an efficient way in order to achieve the best outcome, says Gong, who is chief executive officer of Getwell Health Exercise Tech Co.
“What is the most suitable way and intensity for them? It’s not to say the more sports they do, the better. Unscientific exercise may have opposite effects,” she tells China Daily.
“In the health management sector, a number of achievements have been made in medical technology. But, in sports, there are few breakthroughs.”
With the idea of “making sports more efficient” in mind, Gong and her team developed Getwell T1 — a health management hardware device.
By monitoring oxygen content in users’ blood capillary and analyzing the data it receives, Getwell T1 assesses their instant physical situation and judges whether they should continue or need to stop.
The device also formulates individual schemes for users based on their personal needs and physical condition, guiding them to improve the quality of exercise.
Technological innovation and a growing awareness of physical health among the general public have spurred the development of health management-related intelligent hardware on the Chinese mainland, with various brands flooding into the market.
However, they are showing increasing homogeneity, as most of the products are designed to monitor one’s heart rate.
According to Gong, the heart rate can easily be affected by external factors such as noise, temperature change or intake of medicine and, therefore, can be unstable.
“That could lead to a reduction in the accuracy of monitoring,” she explains. “We’ve now come up with this new way of measurement with higher stability and accuracy.” The market for medical health-related intelligent hardware on the Chinese mainland expanded remarkably in 2015 — from 340 million yuan ($51.2 million) in 2014 to 720 million yuan — representing a 112-percent growth, according to market research firm iResearch. The market amounted to 940 million yuan last year, but growth slowed down to 31 percent year-on-year. The statistics didn’t include smart band and smart watch products for sports. Gong says her company will focus on two areas. One is to help patients with chronic diseases recover.
It is currently working with 13 hospitals on the mainland toward that goal. At a hospital affiliated to Henan University of Science and Technology in central Henan province, 300 patients with diabetes have used the device in an experiment.
The result shows their health has improved significantly with Getwell, ultimately enabling them to do sports, says Gong.
In another experiment in the laboratory of the Nanjing Sport Institute in eastern Jiangsu province, the smart device was made to compare its accuracy with large medical equipment.
“The accuracy rate of our device in testing aerobic capacity reached 85 to 92 percent compared with the professional Gong Yu, facility,” says Gong.
The other focus area is fitness. “We plan to cooperate with 100 to 300 fitness clubs within a year. That will help fitness instructors make better plans for sports enthusiasts and make fitness more efficient.”
The Getwell T1 is expected to debut on the mainland market by the end of next month.
Feng Chao, an analyst at Beijing-based consultancy Analysys International, says health management is a major sector for smart hardware manufacturers to tap into and that has led to homogeneity.
“At present, smart hardware devices on the market are mainly sleep, blood pressure or heart rate monitors. People, especially the elderly group and those with chronic diseases, have strong demand for such devices,” she says.
“Moreover, this kind of monitoring technology has matured and the devices are able to produce accurate results. That’s why many manufacturers have marched into the market.”
In future, Feng reckons, health management-related devices may become the core of the smart hardware market.
Right now, smart hardware functions together with mobile phones, by linking with an app. “With the development of screen technology, health management smart devices are expected to make greater breakthroughs, with the function of instant calculation integrated into them. That will, to some extent, supplement or replace the role of mobile phones and make them become a helper in our daily lives,” says the analyst.
In the health management sector, a number of achievements have been made in medical technology. But, in sports, there are few breakthroughs.” chief executive officer of Getwell Health Exercise Tech Co