Jawbone Acquires BodyMedia to Add Health Monitoring to Fitness Devices

Fitness-tracking device manufacturer Jawbone has acquired competitor BodyMedia to pool expertise in wearable health sensors. Jawbone also announced its Up platform for iOS.

Jawbone, known for its Bluetooth audio devices, has acquired its wearable computing competitor BodyMedia to combine efforts on health and fitness tracking sensors.

The New York Times, citing a source close to the April 30 deal, reported the terms to be $110 million.

As a combined company, Jawbone and BodyMedia will create "new boundaries" and further innovate in wearable computing, Hosain Rahman, the Jawbone CEO and founder, said in a statement.

BodyMedia has conducted extensive research since 1999 on how wearable sensors can help monitor a person's health. This research data appealed to Rahman, according to the Times.

BodyMedia had said it's working to adapt its system of sensors built into its fitness-tracking armbands to help doctors monitor chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.

The BodyMedia Fit armbands are registered as a Class II medical device by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Future versions of its armbands and mobile apps that monitor chronic conditions would also need Class II clearance, Christine Robins, CEO of BodyMedia, told eWEEK in an April 24 interview. Robins will remain with the company as general manager of the BodyMedia brand and vice president of business development, according to a Jawbone spokesperson.

Jawbone said it will continue to sell BodyMedia's armbands. The BodyMedia Core 2 armband was scheduled to enter the market for $199 in August. It would feature on-body sensors for temperature, galvanic skin response, acceleration and heat flux along with the rate of heat transfer through a surface. The BodyMedia armbands capture more than 5,000 data points per minute.

It's these sensors and wearable-computing patents that have attracted the interest of new parent company Jawbone.

"Together, BodyMedia and Jawbone have almost three decades worth of deep tech, science and intellectual property around sophisticated sensors on the body and nearly 300 issued and pending patents around wearable technology," Rahman said in his statement.

"Jawbone's deep expertise with consumer technology, design and building products that fit seamlessly into people's lives is the best way to carry forward many of the innovations that BodyMedia has developed over the past 14 years," Robins said in a statement. "We are eager to pair our depth of insight and IP with Jawbone's expertise so that together, we can make an even bigger impact on people's health and help them achieve their goals."

Jawbone offers the $130 Up wristband and app system that allows consumers to track their fitness activity levels and sleeping patterns. Jawbone launched its most recent version in November 2012.

On April 30, Jawbone also announced the Up mobile app platform for iOS along with 10 apps that run on Up. Version 2.5 of the Up app integrates with cloud health platforms such as MapMyFitness, RunKeeper and MyFitnessPal.

Up also works with medical devices such as the Withings Smart Body Analyzer scale. Users can import their data such as weight and sleeping and eating patterns into Up and share info with "teammates" as they work toward health goals.

Jawbone also announced on April 30 that it will open its API for developers to make their health apps and devices compatible with the Up platform. In February, Jawbone acquired Massive Health, a startup that developed mobile health apps.

Wearable fitness trackers are a growing area of health IT, and doctors are looking to find a way to integrate data from the devices into their clinical workflow.