Play for Health

Last week we launched a new series of quarterly briefs, which we call Emergence Reports, with the first, "Play for Health" focusing on the evolution of what we are calling Fitness Ecosystems. This is a topic we've addressed before on Changeism (here and here) as sports and fitness accessories merge with the worlds of wireless communication and digital media.

Personal Trainer: Walking, an upcoming game title for the Nintendo DSi.I'll let you read more in the report (which you can request here), but it is becoming clear that generations raised on technology, in particular wireless communication and video games, want their workout or active leisure experience to be as networked and interactive as the other spheres of their lives. This coming Christmas season is likely to see a burst of new products that use networked play as an incentive to be active, such as the Me2 unit, which translates steps taken offline into online benefits, a feature also included in an upcoming game for the Nintendo DSi in Japan.

For adults, the convergence is less about game play and more about tracking progress and the social aspect of active lifestyles. The boom in location-based services and inexpensive integration of GPS into a raft of new consumer electronics allow sports enthusiasts to track their own activity and share their location and results. Services such as Map My Tracks do just this from a GPS-enabled mobile phone, while dedicated devices such as Flaik let winter sports lovers provide a window on their skiing and snowboarding to armchair shredders. Meanwhile, more mundane equipment such as our shirts and shoes can increasingly tell how effectively we are training toward our goals, and can broadcast this information to anyone listening. Companies such as Nike, Adidas, Apple, Sony, Nintendo and Nokia are among those who will get a jumpstart in this new market, but look for many other players to move into the networked health/fitness/active leisure supply chain, from chipmakers to navigation hardware and toy companies.

A word on Emergence Reports: We've launched this new format as a means of sharing our views on the trends and technologies that are converging in many areas to create new opportunities for innovation. The format allows us to present concise but structured thinking that touches on important changepoints driving convergence in topic areas of focus, point to waymarkers along the evolution toward these new market opportunities, highlight interesting new designs and present ideas about what the near future may hold. With this structure, they are a great foundation for deeper research, discussion and ideation and appeal to both insights and design teams alike.

We are also able to develop custom Emergence Reports for clients—contact us to find out more. Look for the next Emergence Report in Q1 2009 looking at the convergence of data visualization and sustainability.