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Fitbit co-founder talks about technology and the future of wellness at the Discovery Vitality Summit

Press Release   •   Aug 06, 2015 11:30 GMT

Fitbit co-founder talks about technology and the future of wellness at the Discovery Vitality Summit

Big data is changing how companies interact with their customers and employees, but also how those individuals interact with each other and their health and wellness.

In the wellness industry this trend is manifesting faster than in most, through wearable devices such as Fitbit. The social nature of the modern age, combined with technology, has also allowed Discovery Vitality to see just how effective incentives can be to motivate people to become healthier.

Discovery Health CEO, Dr Jonathan Broomberg pointed this out at the Discovery Vitality Summit, which builds knowledge in health and wellness, today in Sandton. He also said Discovery Vitality members who have taken up Vitality fitness benefits are healthier than those who haven’t. As a result, these individuals have 15% lower healthcare costs.

Technology and the connectivity it provides, makes it easier to be healthy. Confirming this was CTO and co-founder of Fitbit, Eric Friedman. “It’s the obesity epidemic in the US that inspired the creation of Fitbit, along with accelerometer technology introduced by the Nintendo Wii,” he said.

Through studying behaviour in people and how they consume data and technology, Fitbit was able to create something simple that has had an immense impact on health and wellness globally.

“The key is getting people to want to use these devices that better their lives,” Friedman said.

“Through ease of use and low maintenance you can get people to passively contribute to the betterment of their health and the scope of healthcare. Once you have collected the data you can use it to demonstrate results, and engage with individuals effectively to motivate them even more,” he said.

People want to know more about themselves and Fitbit does just that.

“Small behavioural tricks such as sharing results and goals with friends can result in users taking up to 400 more steps, for each of the first seven new friends they hook up with. The goal of Fitbit is to inspire and motivate people to live healthier, more active lives and the only way we can do that is to engage them.”

For business and the wellness industry this opens up greater opportunity to save money by rewarding people that actively seek to become healthier.

Friedman says companies in the US lose upwards of $11 billion on people with diabetes and approximately $2 000 each year for each worker that is sleep deprived.

“For us, the most fascinating data insight of all is how much impact small changes in behaviour can have, and how people are improving their health through small, daily tweaks, rather than through big changes,” he said. With new developments in technology, wearable devices have the ability to take health and fitness to the next level.

Notes to the editor

The Discovery Vitality Summit being hosted in Illovo, Johannesburg, today, 06 August 2015, is an open platform that brings together pioneers and leading thinkers in sports science, high performance, fitness, nutrition, technology, health, wellness and psychology.

It creates shared knowledge around the latest global health and wellness developments, while encouraging debate and interaction amongst industry stakeholders.


CEO of Discovery Health


Co-founder, director and chief technology officer of Fitbit, a leading global manufacturer of fitness and health-tracking devices based in San Francisco. Friedman has a Master’s degree in computer science from Yale University and a career spanning more than 14 years in technology design and development.

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