Garmin acquires analytics company behind its smartwatches' fitness, health tracking features

Firstbeat Analytics provides software that helps monitor stress, sleep, respiration rate and more for Garmin and other consumer smartwatch makers.
By Dave Muoio
03:16 pm
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Garmin announced today that it has purchased Firstbeat Technologies' Firstbeat Analytics, its business unit responsible for physiological-measurement algorithms for use with consumer health and wellness devices. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Headquartered in Jyvaskyla, Finland, Firstbeat Analytics has been providing software that interprets various data collected from sensors. It has licensed the technology to a handful of consumer fitness device-makers – including Garmin – to enable tracking of wearers' stress, sleep, VO2 max, respiration rate, calories burned and several other metrics.

“Having utilized Firstbeat’s innovative analytics across our product lines for more than a decade, we are excited to have the Firstbeat Analytics associates join the Garmin team, establishing us at the forefront of physiological analytics,” Cliff Pemble, Garmin president and CEO, said in a statement. “Together with their team of physiologists, scientists and engineers, we look forward to providing Garmin customers with unmatched technology for greater performance, recovery and overall health.”

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Firstbeat Analytics will continue to operate out of its current facilities. Garmin's purchase does not include Firstbeat Technologies' other businesses, focused on corporate and sports customers.

WHY IT MATTERS

To say that Garmin's smartwatches were heavily reliant on Firstbeat's algorithms would be an understatement – the Garmin Fenix 6 GPS smartwatch, for instance, lists 18 different health- and performance-tracking features that are supported by the technology. Bringing Firstbeat's business in-house gives Garmin more control over how the health-tracking technology develops.

Looking to the rest of the market, this acquisition also places Garmin in a position of power over competitors who were also licensing Firstbeat's technology – Casio, Xiaomi, Huawei, Amazfit and Suunto, to name a few. The Swiss company can now set the terms of Firstbeat Analytics' upcoming licensing deals, so allowing Garmin to either generate new income or hamper the feature sets of its smartwatch rivals.

THE LARGER TREND

Similar to Apple and Samsung, the first and second smartwatch market share leaders, Garmin has been steadily incorporating more health and fitness tracking features into its product lineup. Last year saw the addition of menstrual-cycle tracking to the company's various consumer devices, while 24-7 fitness monitoring was a key focus of last fall's Venu and vívoactive watch reveals.

The wearables' onboard sensors have also earned Garmin's devices a role in several health-research projects, among the most recent of which is Scripps Research Translational Institute's DETECT Study for the early detection of viral disease symptoms.

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