Garmin offers employers wellness portal, health challenges

By Aditi Pai
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Garmin ConnectGarmin has unveiled a new offering for employers, called the Garmin Connect wellness portal, to help them manage their corporate wellness programs.

The portal is powered by the same technology behind Garmin Connect, a direct-to-consumer portal that allows users to sync Garmin activity tracker data, view training plans, and interact with the Garmin Connect community. The employee wellness portal will similarly engage users with challenges, social interaction, and activity tracking.

Employers can access aggregated activity data about their employees via the portal.

Employers can also invite potential participants to join via email and encourage employees by organizing team and individual challenges. Employees can also use the platform to track their individual progress as well as how they compare to others in the program. 

This isn't Garmin's first offering for employers. In October 2013, Garmin launched a closed API for its device data, which it offers exclusively to corporate wellness companies on a case-by-case basis. Garmin's partners include Everymove, Redbrick Health, Vitality, Validic, limeade, Tictrac, and Higi.

Just ahead of the big CES event in Las Vegas this week, Garmin also announced three new activity trackers: fenix 3, epix, and Vivoactive.

Fenix 3 offers features to track multisport activities including advanced fitness training, cross-country and alpine skiing, snowboarding, hiking, climbing, and trail running. Advanced features available in the fenix include an antenna paired with a 3-axis electronic compass, barometer, and auto-calibrating altimeter. Fenix has a suggested retail price of $499.99. Although Garmin's other new smartwatch epix's main functionality is general GPS mapping, the device can download apps that will use the its digital compass, altimeter, and barometer to track fitness activity. Epix has a suggested retail price of $549.99.

Vivoactive, the least expensive of the newly announced smartwatches, uses an accelerometer to track activity and retails for $249.99.

Recently, another company that sells activity trackers, Jawbone, also created a new feature to support employee wellness programs. Jawbone's offering, called Up for Groups, is designed for any group with 10 or more participants. As participants in a group work on improving their sleep and activity levels, the group-assigned “administrators” can view their progress via a dashboard that displays data from the past day, week, or month. From there, administrators can use their dashboard send messages and nudges to the participants’ in-app feeds.