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Everybody is talking about how to pull biometrics data from consumer wearables (like Fitbit bracelets) into a common, standards-driven platform so that it can be analyzed and made useful to physicians.

But some of the panelists at VentureBeat’s HealthBeat conference believe that wearables must become much more wearable and useful to consumers before they’ll be able to move the dial on wellness.

“The challenge is that we are still in the early days of these, and they are still pretty hard to wear,” said Rachel Kalmar of Misfit Wearables.

Misfit has one of the best-known wearables in the Shine, a gunmetal gray aluminum watch that counts steps and tracks sleep.


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“I don’t think we are there yet,” Kalmar said. “We need to make devices that people want to charge up every night and put on everyday.”

The scope of the information that wearable devices track needs to grow too. “I think the data being collected is really quite limited,” said Spire‘s Jonathan Palley, whose company makes a wearable that uses breath sensing to track things like stress, restfulness, and steps.

“We can talk about aggregating the data but we need to be collecting more types of real-time data,” Palley said. “Step counting is a good first step, but the human body is extremely complex and it’s constantly functioning.”

“I think as we get these devices to do more real-time monitoring the clinical insights they yield will be more valuable,” Palley said.

Vivametrica‘s Christy Lane, M.D., and Misfit’s Kalmar agree that while consumer fitness wearables are of limited value in a clinical setting right now, wearables makers are now working with partners to make devices that yield data that might be useful to doctors and researchers.

Lane said her company, which makes an open integration platform for wearable devices, is hoping to bring in biometrics data from wearables and establish risk thresholds for certain types of behaviors.

“So we might be able to tell a user, ‘This is your risk for cardiovascular disease, and if you can change your activity in this way, this is how you will see your risk decrease’,” Lane said.

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