Appy New Year!

Like many people, on 1st of January I found myself  with a considerable hangover writing my New Year resolutions’ list. Over a quarter of people in the UK make New Year resolutions, probably calling on the ‘New Year, new me’ mantra, vowing to lose weight, run 5K, spend more time with their family or like me, quit smoking.  However, good intentions alone are not enough, as a not very encouraging study from Bristol University found, around three quarters of those who make resolutions fail.

I have tried to stick to my resolutions before, but they have never lasted past the second half of January. This year I am determined to avoid failure, be smoke free and live happily ever after. Experts agree that writing down resolutions, tracking your progress and sharing goals with others can help you achieve them. Fortunately for me, there is an app for that – or more accurately, over 200 apps promising to help me succeed in my quest to quit.

I have been using Livestrong My Quit Coach, which creates a plan for you, along with progress charts and tips. It also gives you badges to reward you for the progress made so far, which you can share with friends online. For extra motivation I have also downloaded My Last Cigarette, designed to help you quit by throwing gory facts at you, such as how much your life expectancy has increased since the day your smoked your last cigarette.  So far it’s going well. I am quite surprised about how motivating it can be knowing how much money I’ve saved, tick another smoke free day and get a badge or two to prove to friends I can do this. Feeling so motivated that I have even dared to share my goal with the world using Google’s interactive resolutions map

From these apps to quit smoking to apps to cure insomnia, people now have thousands of health and fitness apps at their fingertips.  In 2012 there were nearly 250 million people who downloaded at least one mobile health application and the number is expected to double this year. The rise of smartphones and developments in mobile technology are changing the way we monitor and manage our health. Health and Fitness apps are probably the most well-known application of mobile health but there are a number of emerging trends that could help tackle some of the current challenges faced by the healthcare industry. A good example is remote monitoring, which uses wireless technology to manage and treat a patient from a distance, allowing doctors to reach more patients and reducing the need for external consultations (therefore cutting costs). Mobile health can also be used to improve treatment compliance, with tools like simple app notifications or more futuristic software like the Pillstation.

With 89% of doctors and 75% of chronic patients saying they see a benefit in mobile health, more and more companies are developing and growing their offering in this area. And as mobile health develops, the number of potential revenue streams for brands also increases: paid apps, ad placements, in-app purchases, subscriptions to access premium content… It can also provide an opportunity for brands to increase visibility, attract new consumers and foster loyalty among current consumers. Nike+ FuelBand is probably one of the best examples. Following the success of their Nike+ running app, Nike launched the FuelBand, a wristband that tracks and measures your movement in sports and everyday activities, aiming to expand beyond hardcore runners and attract ‘ordinary people’. By helping people with goal setting and continuous feedback, Nike not only create value for users but also get access to valuable consumer behaviour data.

What I like about the Fuelband is how it incorporates gaming principles, converting all your physical activity into NikeFuel and allowing you to challenge yourself and friends to get more ‘fuel’. Any movement contributes to your fuel score, a big night out dancing should be as productive as a run. I might try it if I decide to make getting fit my next goal. Now I’m off for a cigarette going to log another suppressed craving on my app. Apparently, that will buy me 11 extra minutes of life.

Ines Nadal is Head of Trends & Futures at Ipsos MORI. Follow her on Twitter @inesnadal

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