Apparel Companies Converge On The Fitness App Market

Asics announces that it has acquired fitness app Runkeeper for an undisclosed sum. The announcement was made by Runkeeper founder Jason Jacobs in a press release on Medium.  Run Keeper reports that data extracted from its Shoe Tracker feature, a component of its app that allows users to log the mileage of their running shoes, shows that Asics brand running shoes are by far the most popular brand in use by its users, suggesting that the two companies have a significant consumer overlap that will help strengthen brand loyalty.

Apparel Companies Converge On The Fitness App Market

The deal makes sense for both Runkeeper and Asics. The fitness app market has seen a great deal of exit activity lately as sports apparel companies race to build compelling digital health ecosystems. Nike walked away from its FuelBand fitness tracker line to focus its efforts more directly on building a digital platform for its apparel customers. Under Armour followed suit with a massive investment in several major fitness apps, including MyFitnessPal, which it acquired for $475 million, and Endomondo, which it acquired for $85 million. Adidas has also made its move in the digital health space, snapping up Runtastic and its 40 million active users for $275 million. While Asics declined to report the purchase price for Runkeeper, the app also boasts 40 million active users, just slightly less than MyFitnessPal’s 45 million active users at the time of its acquisition and on par with Runtastic’s user base, so the going rate for a digital health property like Runkeeper has been established and should be well into the hundreds of millions of dollars, making this a major exit in the market.

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23andMe Partners With Fertility Startup To Develop Infertility Genetics Test

Genome sequencing vendor 23andMe has partnered with Celmatix, a New York-based startup working to develop a genetics test designed to improve the diagnosis and treatment of infertility. Founded in 2010, Celmatix has raised $19.5 million in investment capital, coming in the form of a Series A led by Topspin Partners in 2013.

23andMe Partners With Fertility Startup To Develop Infertility Genetics Test

Since its launch, Celmatix has been cataloging genetic mutations associated with infertility and has thus far compiled a list of 5,200 known genetic biomarkers. The team is partnering with 23andMe to gain access to its massive de-identified genetic database in an effort to learn more about these biomarkers. Since its launch in 2006, 23andMe has amassed a database containing hundreds of thousands of fully sequenced genetic samples, that it markets to pharmaceutical companies and other research organizations. The genetic data is valuable because 23andMe also collects self-reported answers to extensive health questionnaires that are submitted alongside the genetic samples. These questionnaires capture detailed information on a variety of health conditions, including fertility, and will help Celmatix learn which genetic mutations are most prevalent among infertile women.

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Withings Launches Hy-Result To Help Fight Hypertension

Withings has announced a new blood pressure monitoring feature that it will make available to users of its Withings Health Mate app. The unveil, Withings explains, was timed to coincide with the start of American Heart Month, an awareness campaign run by the Million Hearts campaign to get people talking about heart health and making healthy lifestyle choices. For its part, Withings is introducing Hy-Result, a set of features designed to help users of its Withings wireless blood pressure cuff trend and interpret their blood pressure readings. Oddly, the new set of features are not free, as many Withings blood pressure cuff owners may justifiably expect. Instead, the add on will be distributed as a $4.99 in-app purchase.

Withings Launches Hy-Result To Help Fight Hypertension

Withings says the new features are an improvement over current blood pressure tracking options because they capture multiple readings over several days and from varying times of day, and then analyzes that information alongside medication details and medical history data to determine how well blood pressure is being managed. The app then presents blood pressure results within three colored zones that help users understand their results. The app then offers best-practice recommendations for lowering blood pressure and allows users to share their results with their doctors.

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As Virtual Reality Matures, Fitness Applications Emerge

2016 has been pegged as the year virtual reality goes mainstream by dozens of major news outlets, including NPR, BBC, and Fortune. Those predictions are all based largely on development timelines made public by Facebook for its Oculus Rift headset, which will appear in stores in 2016, as well as speculation that Sony’s PlayStation VR will be on shelves before the 2016 holidays. Others are nearing the point of having a marketable product as well, including Samsung and its Gear VR headset, and HTC’s Vive VR. Apple has also been rumored to be developing a VR platform as its next major initiative, though in typical Apple form, very little is known about the scope of functionality or timeline associated with that effort.

As Virtual Reality Matures, Fitness Applications Emerge

As virtual reality makes it way in front of consumers, fitness applications are beginning to emerge. VirZoom, a virtual reality startup building exercise equipment and a library of games compatible across multiple VR platforms, has just announced the Q2 availability of its flagship product, a connected exercise bike. VirZoom’s exercise bike looks much like a conventional bike; however, the handle bars have been enhanced to double as game controllers, and when playing games that require driving, running, or other activities like horseback riding, users can propel and steer themselves within the VR game by steering and peddling the exercise bike. The bike will retail for $400, and VirZOOM plans to sell a supplemental $10 monthly subscription to users that will allow them to play games from its library. Alternatively, users can opt to pay a one-time $200 subscription fee. CEO Eric Janszen explains, “The games are specially designed to encourage interval exercise with periods of intense pedaling in response to game play, followed by periods of rest.”

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UK Moves Forward With CRISPR Human Embryo Editing Research

Genetics researchers working from the Francis Crick Institute in London have been given approval to begin using CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing techniques on human embryos. Working under lead researcher and biologist Kathy Niakan, the team will focus its research on studying early cellular development of human embryos. Specifically, embryos will be monitored through the first seven days of natural development, growing from a single cell to around 250 cells. During this process, researchers will use CRISPR/Cas9 to remove sections of DNA to monitor how editing an embryo at the single cell level impacts downstream embryonic development.

UK Moves Forward With CRISPR Human Embryo Editing Research

An important ethical note about the approved research is that scientists will not attempt to edit the DNA of embryos with the goal of eliminating specific hereditary diseases or traits, but are instead focusing on building a more refined understanding of the earliest stages of human development and how genetic coding and gene editing impacts this early development. Researchers have confirmed that they will source embryos from fertility clinics, where single-cell embryos are created in a laboratory environment and then transferred to the mother’s uterus. In many cases, this process results in an excess of healthy single-cell embryos. These embryos will be used by researchers to monitor early development, and will not be allowed to develop beyond seven days.

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