As Whoop Whips Up More Cash, A Look at the Wearables Market

The hype over wearables may be in decline—which means it’s time for some real companies to get built.

On Monday, Indian tech giant Infosys said it invested $3 million in Whoop, a Boston-based wearables startup that’s targeting elite athletes. The new money comes on the heels of a $12 million Series B round the performance-monitoring company announced in September.

This seems like a good time to assess where the market is heading. So, let’s recap the year in wearables news (top 5 highlights):

1. The Apple Watch was released in April, to mostly rave reviews. Granted, it does a lot more than health monitoring—stay tuned for more progress on that—but it forced a lot of wearables startups to reconsider their strategy.

2. Fitbit’s much-anticipated IPO went through, to the tune of $700 million raised and a current market cap of $6 billion. This is a big success for the field.

3. Misfit Wearables was acquired by fashion conglomerate Fossil Group for $260 million. It’s a very interesting fitness-tracking company with New England roots. And a sign of more consolidation to come.

4. Jawbone, a heavily funded wearables company, went through layoffs and restructuring this fall. Another Vinod Khosla-backed company, Quanttus in Boston, has gone through a leadership change as it works to release its health-monitoring product.

5. The Boston Stress Study was launched by startup Neumitra to quantify brain health across the city (inspired by the Framingham Heart Study). Neumitra switched from developing its own wearable device to developing a monitoring system and analysis software that integrates with other devices.

My conclusion: Wearable technologies for health analysis are still pretty early, and it’s tough out there for startups. The ones that succeed will specialize in a major way—targeting a certain type of customer with a specific kind of analysis, for example. Also, watch out for big players like Xiaomi and Samsung (not just Apple) to come in and clean up.

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