directlifeDoes exercise have to mean jogging, sweat and tears? Not according to Philips, whose DirectLife personal fitness programme aims to help people adopt a more active lifestyle by monitoring and motivating them in their daily activities. Like Fitbit which we covered in October, DirectLife is based around a wearable device that uses a 3D digital accelerometer to track a person’s movements. The data is uploaded via USB to a personal web-page, where it’s matched against daily targets, long-term goals, and (optionally) other users.

Where DirectLife differs from Fitbit is in the provision of a personal coach, on a subscription basis. Interacting with users through the online portal, personal coaches are real people with expertise in sports science, personal training and behavioural psychology, who use their knowledge to provide users with feedback, encouragement and advice on small lifestyle changes. DirectLife is available for USD 99 plus shipping, including the Activity Monitor and first four months of membership—thereafter, membership costs USD 12.50 per month.

The other big difference is that Philips is mainly targeting employers, claiming the system reduce absenteeism and health costs, while improving employee morale and productivity. Having companies track an employee’s every move, obviously isn’t free of ethical and privacy concerns. On the other hand, the societal need is also clear: according to the World Health Organization, more than 60 percent of the global population fail to reach the minimum levels of moderate daily physical activity to deliver health benefits. That’s a big market to move into.

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