Qualcomm's medical M2M platform gaining ground

10 January 2013 by Steve Blum
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Sensible shoes.

Qualcomm Life's medical M2M (machine-to-machine) platform, 2net, had a good first year on the market. About a dozen companies were demonstrating their connected medical and fitness products in and around the Qualcomm booth at CES. So far, about two hundred have adopted the platform.

Introduced at the show last year, 2net securely connects personal monitoring and measurement devices – glucose meters, activity trackers, blood pressure monitors, for example – to health professionals. It provides the gateway and and the backend servers, plus the Internet connectivity when necessary.

It's turned out to be a catalyst for wearable electronics. BodyMedia and FitBit are in the 2net family. So's Fitlinxx, which was showing its Pebble activity monitor. Not to be confused with the Pebble smart watch which debuted at CES yesterday. That's a trademark fight waiting to happen.

Corporate wellness programs are its target market. The half dollar sized device clips to a shoe or a belt and records steps taken, calories burned and other fitness metrics. It uses a proprietary 2.4 GHz data link to upload data to a hub, usually located on the company premises, and then on to the 2net platform.

They're just starting to move into the consumer space. Instead of installing a hub, consumers plug a USB dongle into their home computer and go from there to 2net, which then links them to their health care provider or fitness coach.

Between its Tricorder X-Prize competition and its $500 million health-related corporate venture capital fund, Qualcomm is betting that the health sector will be driving the growth of networked services, wired and wireless alike. So far, it's paying off.