2016 was quite a year, and we have great expectations for 2017.
The new year, 2017, got off to a quick start for Firstbeat with a strong showing in Las Vegas, at CES, the world’s largest consumer electronics showcase. While at the event, I had the opportunity to deliver a presentation as part of the Fitness Tech Summit on the future of wearables and their path towards usefulness. And I was also delighted to participate in a panel hosted by Sports Illustrated science and technology writer Tom Taylor focusing on how wearables are helping today’s elite athletes succeed on and off the field.
CES 2017 also provided an opportunity to meet with current Firstbeat partners and to connect with some excellent prospects for future endeavors. There are some truly exciting projects and products on the horizon, and we look forward to collaborating on many of them.
At this massive global showcase of technology and innovation, there was plenty of excitement surrounding a number of devices powered by Firstbeat analytics. Notably were the exceptionally well-received Jabra Elite Sport true wireless earbuds and the much anticipated announcement of the Garmin fēnix 5 series (CES Innovation Award Honoree), which includes new features from Firstbeat.
Among these new features is the Aerobic/Anaerobic Training Effect, an update to a popular feature based on some of our work with trainers and coaches in the NHL. These pros were interested in how they could best match the forms and intensity of their training proscriptions to match the real demands of the game and even the position and style of individual players. Our solution has been very well received at the pro level which gives us confidence that it will be a success in the consumer market also.
The fēnix 5 also proudly marks the debut of Training Status, a revolutionary feature that integrates streams of physiological training and performance information into a single, easily understood, picture of personal training status. Among other factors, measured fitness levels are examined in light of current and historical training loads to reveal how your body is responding.
As the saying goes, “the best way to predict the future is to create it.” And for the past 15 years, our team has been busy building the future in our labs and on our desks. This experience continues to provide an excellent vantage point from which to survey, understand, and predict the world of health, fitness and performance wearables.
In 2016 over a dozen impressive new devices featuring Firstbeat analytics entered the market, and a handful of devices received updates that added Firstbeat features to ensure that they remained competitive and capable of satisfying consumer expectations.
This brings the total number of Firstbeat powered consumer wearables to over 70 unique devices. We can predict that 2017 will be strong with many exciting new devices. This trend can be largely attributed to demand from consumers, who are becoming increasingly sophisticated in what they expect from their wearables.
In order for these devices to remain relevant, it is clear that they must continue to add new levels of meaningful user engagement. To achieve this, feedback must be scientifically valid and capable of influencing future decisions and behavior – both aspects in which Firstbeat excels and has a track record of success.
Firstbeat Lifestyle Assessment services have reached an equally impressive stage. A growing number of corporate clients have incorporated our product as the foundation of innovative employee wellness programs designed to improve health and productivity through better understanding of stress and recovery.
As workplace engagement and productivity are increasingly identified as the greatest challenges facing employers today, I can predict some exciting growth and development in this business area for 2017. Grounding this expectation is evidence of an increase in collaboration and partnership between corporate clients and insurance companies to provide these services.
We have documented case studies that show how identifying and making healthy lifestyle choices can produce impressive results in terms of health indicators and financial return.
In the highly competitive world of professional sports, Firstbeat professional products currently support over 18,000 top athletes around the world in their efforts to optimize performance and while minimizing risk of injury. Among these are some of the most well-known and successful athletes in the world distributed across over 700 teams.
Of particular note in 2016 were the additions of the Detroit Red Wings (NHL), Cleveland Browns (NFL), St Louis Blues (NHL), and Tottenham Hotspurs (EPL) to the Firstbeat Sports client roster. The Stanley Cup Finals featured a pair of Firstbeat clients; the Pittsburgh Penguins and San Jose Sharks; meanwhile the Golden State Warriors set the NBA’s all-time regular season wins record at 73(!).
Our involvement in sports at this level provides an optimal vantage point for observing and understanding how physiological analytics can best be used to optimize training outcomes. It also influences our development process and ensures that the analytics we provide meet the highest standards of use. We predict that in 2017 individualized training will take an ever stronger place in team sports, and there is no doubt that heart rate variability based feedback will be at the core of delivering this shift.
These are just some of the achievements that our talented team accomplished this past year. As evidence of this outstanding efforts, the Federation of Finnish Enterprises awarded Firstbeat the Finnish National Entrepreneurial Award for 2016. This honor was given in recognition of the groundbreaking work that we have done in bringing physiological knowledge and insights to athletes, consumers, and employees around the world.
In this special time reflection, I would like to wish a good new year to all the customers, partners and employees with whom we share a common vision of making the world a healthier, happier, and more productive place… one heartbeat at a time.
Joni Kettunen, PhD
CEO and co-founder