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Applying Lessons from Innovative Wellness Experiences to Deepen Consumer Connections 

Applying Lessons from Innovative Wellness Experiences to Deepen Consumer Connections 

The PSFK Research team explores the innovative solutions being adopted across the full spectrum of personalized, data-driven behavioral and health experiences.

A new generation of digitally connected devices, wearables, and software platforms are leveraging consumer data to create intelligent feedback loops and provide users with personalized treatments and recommendations for their physical and mental health, as well as promote positive behavior both in-the-moment and over the long-term. Currently there are just-under two active IoT-connected devices per individual existing in the world, and for any active connected (but not necessarily IoT) device, that ratio jumps to 3 per person. These devices are just as unique as the consumers who use them, enhancing various elements of life. 

From physical fitness, to emotional wellbeing and mental health, holistic feedback from connected devices removes barriers to growth and supports consumers charting out their goals. Gamified motivation, building elements of play and reward-based stimulation into personal goal setting, is made easier by connected platforms that track progress, and personalized feedback that pushes users to remain engaged supports greater achievement. New AI-powered fitness coaching tools and smart platforms provide users with real-time workout monitoring, correcting form and technique and setting personally tailored routines. 

Wearable devices, moving beyond tracking physiological metrics to include psychological and mood measurements, are taking cues like tone of voice, body temperature, and heart rate and translating them into emotional markers to help users stay on top of their personal wellness targets. Emergent ambient health technologies are using smart sensors and AI-powered tools to track sleep patterns, heart rhythms, and more daily behavior; providing personalized, actionable health insights in both clinical settings and at-home. 

Cutting-edge approaches to behavioral therapeutics, leveraging AI platforms and other digital tools to coach and support users along their mental health journey, are helping users break free of old patterns and embrace productive behavioral systems. Similar innovations are taking place across the medical system at-large, with preventive, proactive, and personalized approaches to treatment and care increasingly combining sophisticated diagnostic testing with holistic lifestyle assessments to provide bespoke guidance. 


Consumer Insights Around The Future of Connected Wellness

Consumers are tapping into connected devices and coach-led programs as a way to share their information i.e. health data, goals and ongoing progress, and in turn receiving personalized insights and treatment recommendations. 

In 2020, for the first time, there are more IoT connections (e.g., connected cars, smart home devices, connected industrial equipment) than there are non-IoT connections (smartphones, laptops, and computers)…The current forecast is that there will be 30.9 billion connected IoT devices by 2025 further driven by new technology standards like 5G.
State of the IoT 2020. IoT Analytics, 2020

Wellness continues to be a leading part of consumers day-to-day lives as they embrace treatments, programming and content created to support growth, betterment and healing,

77% of consumers note wellness is very or extremely important to them, 80% want to improve their wellness, and 75% say brands could do more to support their wellness.
Ogilvy Wellness Gap Study. Ogilvy, 2020

A growing prioritization of mental health, coupled with an emerging generation that embraces digital solutions, has created a need for new approaches to health and wellness. 

Almost half of Gen Z and Millennials rank their mental health as either their first or second priority in life.
Global Millennial Survey. Deloitte, 2020


​​Deep Dive with PSFK’s latest report… The Connected Wellness Experience

In this report, the PSFK Research team explores the innovative solutions being adopted across the full spectrum of personalized, data-driven behavioral and health experiences. To help our members better understand the trajectories at play in this increasingly important and connected space, PSFK has identified 6 key trends behind the tools, insights, and approaches consumers are trusting their mental and physical wellbeing with.  


Trends Driving the Future of the Connected Wellness Experience

Gamified Fitness
Finding the motivation to exercise is a major obstacle for many and keeping it up on a consistent basis is a near impossibility. To overcome this, connected fitness platforms are building elements of gaming and play – missions, competitions, rewards, multi-sensory stimulation – into their core routines, helping people track their progress and stay engaged both during the activity and over the long term.

At certain locations of leading sports entertainment company, Topgolf, players can now access an Angry Birds themed gameplay option – as well as a limited edition Angry Birds Sauce (for real life dipping purposes). Using the digital touchscreen in the bay, players can select which difficulty level to play the Angry Birds simulation. The screen shows the fairway and targets as representations of Angry Birds’ trademark visuals. Physically, players take a shot with microchipped golf balls which use Toptracer technology to give each player points depending on how close they shot to the target. Player's shots will be relayed back to their screen showing the accuracy and distance of each ball in terms of ‘defeating the simulated pigs’ and generally ‘wreaking havoc.’ The experience gamifies and blends the physical experience of players hitting the ball through the air and the digital experience of a video game using tracing technology. 

Ambient Monitoring
In contrast to wearables, ambient health technologies use connected sensors alongside image/video and audio recognition capabilities to measure biometric data without skin-on-skin contact—offering more flexible and comfortable approaches to health tracking and support. On a larger scale, contactless monitoring technologies can also track environmental quality to ensure optimal conditions. While much of this technology is currently for use within clinical settings, the next step will be integrating these capabilities into people’s homes.

Google’s next-gen Nest Hub features a number of updates, including the integration of Soli, an ambient radio frequency technology used to measure and track sleeping habits. The mini-bedside radar device converts captured motion-tracking data into insights for each user, providing personalized reports. Trained on more than 100,000 hours of sleep data, the Sleep Sensing system is able to complete an initial calibration process each night to focus solely on each user’s movement and respiratory changes and eliminate external movement caused by ceiling fans or pets. Additional features available with the Nest Hub software update include a Sunrise Alarm and gesture-activated snooze control.   

Mood Tracking
Wearable devices and sensors have long been able to track physiological metrics like daily steps and sleep but have largely ignored psychological markers like mood and stress. Next generation wearables are monitoring ambient cues like tone of voice, heart rate and body temperature throughout the day and translating them into emotional states to give users a better sense of how they’re feeling. When paired with reminders or advice, these solutions can help people take meaningful action to alter their moods and mental states. 

Fitness company ASICS designed the Mind Uplifter to study how exercise impacts individuals’ mental state. The online tool uses facial recognition software and a six question survey to determine the individual’s mental state before and after exercising. After completing the exercise, the individual returns to the program and notes what kind of exercise, how long they worked out and then repeat the facial scan and questionnaire. At the end, an interactive graphic illustrates the shift in the individual’s mindset before and after the exercise. Once an adequate amount of data is collected, the tool will show how exercise affects people from city to city and from country to country.

Digital Therapeutics
Behavior change and adherence are difficult. People need to break out of well-worn patterns and embrace new ways of thinking and acting and keep that up consistently over time. Under supervised care many patients thrive but when left to themselves it’s easy to backslide into old habits. To provide personal accountability and support that can scale, a new line of AI-powered platforms are delivering behavioral therapy techniques to teach people the necessary skills and coping mechanisms and reinforce them.

A global healthcare platform, Happify Health is the developer behind first of its kind AI-powered digital mental health coach app, Ensemble. Created by a team of experts, research scientists, and doctors, Ensemble is accessible via smartphone or computer, and provides users with skill training based on cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness designed to address symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) or Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). By teaching patients new skills and habits to take control of their anxiety and depression, Ensemble supports users as they learn to change negative thinking patterns, advance personal goals and track their progress over time. Throughout the 10-week program, patients have access to a physician dashboard, clinically validated instruments to measure mental health improvement, and the tools to form long-lasting healthy habits. 

Connected Coaching
Fitness is not a one-size-fits-all approach. People respond differently to workouts and newcomers often have trouble ensuring proper form and technique. Together these factors can limit the effectiveness of training and sometimes result in injury. Absent a dedicated coach, armchair athletes must have to seek other resources or figure these things out on their own. Connected fitness gear from wearables to equipment are solving that problem through real-time tracking and monitoring of a variety of data combined with AI-enabled feedback to assist people in the moment and over the long-term to help them quickly and safely reach their goals. 

At-home fitness hardware and software company Peloton is testing a new handheld device called The Tiger that can be attached to user’s televisions or computers, providing them feedback on their workouts. The Tiger’s hardware uses a camera that is programmed to assess users’ movements and form and while not in use, users can close a sliding cover for privacy purposes. The device is reported to be similar to the size of a cassette player. Peloton also acquired the crowdfunded startup Otari Studio – who designed a prototype for an interactive workout mat with an AI-exercise tracker that records exercise, tracks posture, counts reps, and provides correcting tips in real-time. The interactive workout model included a mat, a propped-up HD screen for streaming classes, and a detachable AI camera that captures and analyzes activity and form. While no official announcements have been made, these acquisitions insist Peloton is looking into providing personalized fitness feedback through digital tools. 

Hyper-Personalized Plans
As the medical system shifts from a reactive, treatment-based model to one that is more preventive, proactive and personalized, providers and platforms are attempting to leverage sophisticated diagnostic testing – DNA, microbiome, hormone cycles, etc. – alongside detailed lifestyle assessments to establish a more comprehensive picture of an individual’s health. With this baseline analysis in place, patients can receive bespoke treatment plans and solutions along with ongoing guidance to achieve their wellness goals.

Developed by Singaporean startup AiTreat, EMMA is a robot masseuse designed to give Tui Na, a type of Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) bodywork similar to a deep tissue massage. Using sensors and 3D vision to measure muscle stiffness, EMMA, which stands for “Expert Manipulative Massage Automation,” identifies pressure points and delivers personalized massages to patients to help offer pain relief and relaxation. EMMA's AI system has been trained with thousands of “data points” — bodies of different shapes, sizes and ethnicities — to calculate the meridians and the acupoints in each individual. There are currently 11 robots deployed at eight different clinics in Singapore, with plans to expand overseas.


​​Deep Dive with PSFK’s latest report… The Connected Wellness Experience

In this report, the PSFK Research team explores the innovative solutions being adopted across the full spectrum of personalized, data-driven behavioral and health experiences. To help our members better understand the trajectories at play in this increasingly important and connected space, PSFK has identified 6 key trends behind the tools, insights, and approaches consumers are trusting their mental and physical wellbeing with.