Design firm Mad*Pow acquires employee wellness app HotSeat

By Jonah Comstock
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Mad*Pow, a design agency with a specialization in healthcare design, has announced an agreement to acquire gamified exercise app HotSeat from context, the communications consulting firm owned by app creator Fran Melmed. The acquisition price was undisclosed. 

“Mad*Pow sees the acquisition of HotSeat as an opportunity to bring an elegant solution to a complex problem,” Amy Cueva, founder and Chief Experience Officer at Mad*Pow, said in a statement. “We see great potential for extending this mobile application to new business and consumer markets and improving the health of many.”

HotSeat, which MobiHealthNews covered back at the 2012 mHealth Summit, is an app aimed at helping office workers interject short bursts of physical activity into their days, and support each other socially in doing so. Mad*Pow worked with context to design the app originally. It is currently sold to corporations with 500 or more employees, but available to people outside those companies if they're invited by employee users.

With HotSeat, employees take two-minute breaks throughout the day for a variety of physical activities from simple ones like walking to sillier ones like particular dances (in 2012, the game Melmed showed MobiHealthNews was "Gangham Style"). Employees choose their own activities, but they can also challenge coworkers. The app also syncs with users' calendars to plan the break aroung their schedules.

Employers, meanwhile, can get an aggregate report of how much their employees are moving using the app. In a 2013 pilot with the American Heart Association, 67 percent of a 250-user cohort took more activity breaks with the app, 76 percent were more mindful of their time sitting, and 68 percent of users said they would recommend HotSeat to others.