Garmin, K4Connect partner on wearable healthcare devices for seniors

By Jeff Lagasse

K4Connect, a technology company focused on seniors and those with disabilities, has partnered up with Garmin International on wearable devices geared toward residents of senior living communities, as well as staff and operators.
The devices will be part of K4Community, K4Connect’s “connected-life” platform. The idea is to give senior living residents a means of tracking their wellness and fitness information through use of a simple app; concurrently, the staff will have access to that information, in theory giving them the means to help the residents achieve personal fitness goals.
“K4Connect reached out to Garmin and asked if we’d be open to exploring a deeper collaboration than your traditional API integration,” said Sean McNamara, head of Health Partnerships at Garmin International. “From there, conversations progressed and we aligned on a strategy to leverage the Garmin Health mobile SDK and vivofit 3 devices to provide a frictionless experience for the older adults who are using K4Connect offering.”
If the idea of seniors using tech-equipped wearables seems incongruous, the evidence shows otherwise: a recent AARP report, “Building a Better Tracker: Older Consumers Weigh In on Activity and Sleep Monitoring Devices,” older adults are actually pretty interested in using technology to track and improve their health. More than 75 percent of those studied, in fact, said it was helpful.
“We believe K4Connect is a market leader in the senior technology and IoT space,” said McNamara. “We expect this partnership to help dramatically expanded the solutions connected wellness capabilities and drive considerable gains in this market.”
The Garmin wearables are slated to monitor heart rate and track sleep, in addition to other fitness-related bells and whistles, such as the requisite steps and activity levels. The interface with K4Community is seamless, and gives senior-living community staff a peek into real-time analytics showing activity and wellness trends.
Garmin’s activity tracker is called the vivofit 3, and when the product was announced in April it was touted for tracking VO2 max, fitness age, and stress. VO2 Max and fitness age are related metrics that show users whether their fitness level overall is poor or superior, and what age correlates to their fitness. These are levels that users can change through exercise.
Garmin Health Lead Product Manager Travis Johnson said early results from the pilots have been encouraging, due largely to a high rate of use among the seniors testing the device.
K4Connect has raised $10 million to date across two rounds of capital (Seed Round and Series A).  Investors include Intel Capital, Sierra Ventures, Stonehenge Growth Equity, Lowe's Venture, Traverse Ventures Partners, and RGAx, a subsidiary of Reinsurance Group of America.