When it comes to women’s health tech, we haven’t seen any major breakthrough except a few female health trackers and smart bras.
Still, we should feel excited about what’s happening in the space, because players are finally getting involved in women’s health tech and women’s health startups are currently on the scene.
“This is an exciting time for women’s health tech because of the convergence of three trends – we are all talking more openly about our bodies; the internet and innovations in sensor technology mean real-time body monitoring is now possible; and finally, our perceptions of health and wellness have dramatically changed from one of doctor-patient to individuals taking control for themselves,” says Tania Boler, founder of London-based women’s health tech startup Elvie.
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When the company launched its first product, the Elvie connected pelvic floor trainer, it raised $6 million in investment led by Octopus Ventures in March, 2017. However, Boler doesn’t want to remain as a one-gadget-wonder. “We will be launching our second disruptive connected lifestyle product for women later this year, which will be aimed specifically at new mothers,” she says. “We plan to have four products on the market by 2020.”
Marija Butkovic, founder and CEO of the Women of Wearables network, points to pregnancy and family planning as specific areas of untapped potential for women’s health and wearable tech as sensors and materials continue to advance. “Every single day I’m amazed by achievements that are happening in health tech and fem tech, and how these correlate to wearable technology in particular,” she says.
Although we haven’t seen a major mainstream product yet, it’s worth noting that devices like Elvie, Ava’s fertility tracking bracelet and OhMiBod’s Lovelife all have 10,000+ downloads each from Android phones on the Google Play store.
Bellabeat, a San Francisco, CA-based company has sold over 700,000 units of its women’s health focused, leaf-shaped trackers including the Leaf Urban.
Fitbit launched its female health tracking alongside its slim sporty smartwatch Fitbit Versa. The users of Versa and Ionic users are able to view their menstrual cycle data onscreen.
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Among the Fitbit’s female users, tracking periods was a much requested feature. “The number one thing that people are asking for is to have everything in one place. You can see what’s happening with your cycle but also see what happens elsewhere in your life – what’s it doing to your sleep patterns? What’s it doing to your resting heart rate? Do I or don’t I feel like exercising?” explains Lucy Sheehan, Fitbit’s head of marketing for the UK.
Down the road, the Fitbit app will begin providing insights into how your sleep, activity, and menstrual cycle affect one another too.
Femtech and its effect on the market
Femtech (female technology) is hailed as the next big phenomenon in the female health market. With 50% of the world’s population as target customers and a market expected to reach $50 billion by 2025, the time has come for bio-pharmaceuticals, and medical device companies, and clinical diagnostics to tap into this market opportunity. Femtech refers to software, products, diagnostics, and services that use technology to boost women’s health.