BARCELONA, Spain--AT&T Mobility (NYSE: T) jumped headfirst into the mobile healthcare market with its new ForHealth service, which promises to aggregate and analyze users' health data from a variety of sources, and to provide health alerts and suggestions based on that data. The service, which is centered on the forthcoming ForHealth mobile app, offers many of the same feature and functions as Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) HealthKit service, which the iPhone vendor launched last year in conjunction with its iOS 8 operating system.
The AT&T ForHealth platform "seamlessly aggregates data from different apps and devices and provides users with personal insights and correlations that are actionable to improve their health," noted AT&T's Internet of Things chief Chris Penrose. "For example, the platform can analyze your sleep and exercise patterns and tell you: 'You run farther on days you've slept more than six hours.' With this information, you can adjust your sleep schedule to get the most out of your workout."
Penrose said AT&T created the platform in partnership with health startup Tictrac, and will be able to obtain and analyze users' health information from over 100 fitness apps and 13 popular wearable devices when the platform launches in the second quarter of this year. Penrose said that, importantly, it will work across all major smartphone platforms, wearable products and fitness apps, making it broader than Apple's HealthKit offering, which only works on Apple's iOS devices. Interestingly, Penrose added that the platform will also be available to customers of AT&T rivals like Sprint (NYSE: S) and T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS).
Penrose said that AT&T could also expand the platform to cover a wider range of features and services, including support for HIPAA-compliant medical information, as well as support for groups of people--for example, families could monitor each other's health or coaches could monitor a team's fitness and performance.
"The platform will be able to grow," he said.
Penrose said there are three major reasons AT&T decided to launch ForHealth: It will help the carrier sell more wearable devices; it could allow AT&T to aggregate and sell users' health data (while keeping their identities secret); and it could allow AT&T to sell sponsorships to fitness companies or wearable device vendors that wish to advertise to ForHealth users. That AT&T could make a business selling ForHealth users' health data comes as little surprise; AT&T has previously disclosed efforts to sell aggregated, anonymous information about the habits of its wireless customers.
"We're going to learn a lot about alternative monetization strategies," Penrose said.
AT&T and Apple aren't the only companies looking to help users analyze their bodily functions. Samsung Electronics last year introduced a similar platform called SAMI geared toward collecting users' health data, and Google last year introduced Android Fit to its smartphone platform.
- see this AT&T post
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