Lauren Goode

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Jawbone Acquires BodyMedia for More Than $100 Million, as Wearable Tech Gets More Intense

Looking to gain even more traction in the wearable health and fitness market, Jawbone is snapping up another health product company.

BodyMedia

The Bay Area-based private company has acquired BodyMedia, Inc., a 14-year-old Pittsburgh-based company that makes health-monitoring armbands.

The move comes just a couple months after Jawbone, which makes the wearable Up fitness band in addition to popular audio devices, acquired data and digital-design companies Massive Health and Visere.

Jawbone acquired BodyMedia for more than $100 million, according to people familiar with the deal, although both companies declined to give more specifics about the financials of the deal.

So what’s the appeal of BodyMedia for Jawbone? Unlike the Massive Health and Visere buys, which were mainly for talent acquisition, BodyMedia’s value lies in both the team and the company’s patents. BodyMedia has had more than 80 patents issued over the years, many in the area of multi-sensor technology. As a combined entity, BodyMedia and Jawbone will have over 300 patents issued and filed.

While the $130 Jawbone Up wristband does many things — it tracks activity levels and sleep patterns, and works with a compatible mobile app for Android and iOS to log food consumption — it lacks some of the high-tech sensors that BodyMedia’s products have.

new_jawbone_up

“I think the first phase of this market has been about accelerometers and what those can do,” Jawbone CEO Hosain Rahman said in an interview. “Now it’s about getting even more granular, and also, how we can get all that tech into an efficient form factor.”

To that point, BodyMedia’s armbands, which will continue to be sold for the time being, contain four different types of sensors, which measure your skin temperature, heat flux, galvanic skin response (GSR) and overall movement.

But compared with the wristband form factor of the Jawbone Up, the BodyMedia bands are bigger, bulkier products. Earlier this year, BodyMedia introduced a slimmed-down version of its health-tracking band, called the Core 2, to compete in the growing category of barely noticeable, 24/7 wearable fitness devices.

So can we expect to see a Jawbone wristband with GSR sensors anytime soon? “We’re working on lots of things,” was all Rahman would say, adding, “We’re exploring where we would see sensors working, and how we can put more and more on top of the body.”

The BodyMedia team will stay in Pittsburgh and will remain intact, both companies say. BodyMedia’s Chris Robins will no longer serve as CEO of the company, and will instead become the general manager of BodyMedia and a vice president of business development at Jawbone.

Jawbone also said today that it’s opening up its Up mobile software to ten different fitness-app makers, including RunKeeper, MyFitnessPal, LoseIt, Withings, Sleepio and IFTTT (for workout prompts). Jawbone Up users with iOS devices will now be able to share data to and from these partner apps with the Up app.


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