Why Under Armour Wants All Your Fitness Data

How much is your fitness data really worth?

Do your steps, workouts, and sleep have real value?

For many wearable technology and fitness equipment manufacturers, we're fast approaching a situation similar to 1849 when there were tales spoken about a Gold Rush in the west.

That gold rush is definitely about to happen, except the money isn't in the ground, but hidden in the virtual data that our bodies create.

A Fitness Empire

With the purchases of MyFitnessPal, MapMyFitness, and Endomondo, Under Armour is going all-in to secure the lion's share of fitness technology end-users globally.

Combined with geo-fencing, this new digital landscape becomes fertile for sowing the seeds of behavioral change, which is essentially the primary-rooted interest of what makes this new technology so attractive:

With new technology we are empowered to change old habits.

Skyhook Wireless reports:

“By 2016, health and fitness apps will be using location-based contextual awareness to present a complete picture of each activity throughout a user’s day.  Location-based context empowers fitness apps to create dynamic mobile experiences that endear users and maximize profitability using geofencing, anonymized personas and venue-level profiles. Contextual location data encourages positive behaviors as they happen and can anticipate how to help users stay active and on top of their goals.”

Since 2009, the wearable technology space has been in a state of perpetual growth, if not exponential.

Now, as companies begin to leverage the behavior of end-users towards buying their products and services, wearable technology is top of mind on the front lines of how advertisers are pinpointing consumers in a way never possible before.

What This Means To Digital Health

For over 6 years, fitness wearables, mHealth, and digital health applications have been the flagship towards using the data created by human behavior to empower and enhance humanity.

With fitness technology expanding inside gyms, health clubs, and wellness centers, the market in 2015 is shifting towards touching the end-user at the most perfect time; all based on their own unique data-derived behavior.

Last year Strava launched Strava Metro, which licenses one full year's worth of exercise data, such as bike routes running paths and more, to government organizations.

MapMyFitness, purchased by Under Armour for over a half-billion dollars, has also joined in selling these data sets to provide information on the commuting habits of cyclists to cities like Denver, Colorado and others.

With all this data is being bought and sold, one has to ask: Since my body is the one actually creating this data, do I get a piece of the financial pie?

Nope.

John C Havens writes about this perfectly in his book “Hacking Happiness” where he describes a future world in which large media and for-profit institutions trade billions of users activity data to leverage the sales of goods globally.

Behind closed doors, there are millions of dollars being exchanged between high echelon fitness companies towards key strategic partnerships in related markets.

This is where enormous amounts of fitness and activity data starts to take on a “big brother” type marketing initiative.

The Value Of Your Data

Quantifying the exact value of all this fitness and activity data is similar to discerning how many beers are sold every year to college kids on spring break.

We're talking millions of dollars made from literally billions of data-points.

Consider a year's worth of your fitness data more than just sweat equity, but rather a window into your life where you allow marketers to look into your home, right down to the most personal and granular activities.

The deeper the data, the more specific companies who own it can understand you, and when they know who you are, what you eat, and how you play—right down to the hour—the opportunity to sell you the right product at the right time becomes apparent.

So who will they sell to?

I've categorized 3 main types of data sets most likely to be pulled from fitness wearable users. These all have their own unique value depending on the product/service:

  • The neophyte and early adopter who is just beginning to look at how digital health and wearable technology can help them in losing weight, being healthy, and improving well-being. Steps, sleep, nutrition and exercise.
  • The weekend-warrior who logs everything religiously, not only to challenge their friends online, but also to have a virtual record of their own performance to reflect on the next time they feel like sleeping in for the 12th day in a row.
  • The seasoned athlete, who thrives off of copious amounts of data: blood testing, sports performance, nutraceuticals and supplementation recommendations pulled directly from self quantification.

Savvy organizations like WellnessFX are becoming more aware of how to view, analyze, and sell customized products to fine-tune these data-driven athletes who live their lives in the numbers, always pushing for the next digit.

Your Data, Your Responsibility

At the end of the day, a fitness app or device needs to be able to interpret data accurately, not just passively collect it.

Companies right now are far too busy trying to create Minimum Viable Products to be truly seamless and export 100%, but with new dashboards emerging like TicTracHumanOS, and other third-party applications, the end-user will one day very soon be able to view his or her data for actionable change towards deleterious behavioral patterns.

To Export or Not To Export, That Is The Question

In the next 6 months, data ownership should be the first question you ask when purchasing a wearable, quickly followed by the seamlessness and ease of use.

The second question is will you be able to export all of your own data to use in a way you deem best?

And lastly, will it be that the OEM has all rights?

Under Armour is paying close attention to who releases what and how it will affect the industry, but one thing is for certain, with the use of fitness wearables and digital health apps garnering more and more attention, the future of the fitness industry is now being written before our eyes.