Are wearables really the future of health?
Jacob Cohen: Howdy, folks. It's Tuesday, May 9th. I'm Jacob Cohen here with Hustle writer, Rob Litterst. And this is The Hustle Daily Show. Later in today's episode, remember when counting steps with partial accuracy was the coolest thing a smart watch or health tracker could do? Well, the tech inside these tiny boxes has come a long way since then. And it seems like we may finally be at a point where the tech and data may actually be useful enough to be useful. So we're going to discuss what that means but before we get into that as always, here are a few things you should know, let's get crackalackin. Rob, how are we doing?
Rob Litterst: Doing good, JC. How are you doing?
Jacob Cohen: I'm doing fine myself. It's supposed to be 84 in Boston later this week.
Rob Litterst: Oh my goodness.
Jacob Cohen: So, we're doing well.
Rob Litterst: That is hot for Boston.
Jacob Cohen: Yes, it is.
Rob Litterst: When I lived in Texas 84 was nice and cool weather. In Boston, that is not the case.
Jacob Cohen: Right. And I have no AC in my pocket, yet.
Rob Litterst: Got to get on that.
Jacob Cohen: Yeah. So what are you following?
Rob Litterst: Okay. So the first thing, I don't know if you've heard of Dirt?
Jacob Cohen: Dirt?
Rob Litterst: Dirt is a Substack newsletter. So it's obviously free to subscribe to if you want to. They write about pretty much everything that's going on in entertainment on the internet. So anything that's popping up on the web, streaming apps, social media. But the cool thing about Dirt is if you want to get really into it, you can buy Dirt NFTs. Dirt just raised$ 1.2 million in seed funding from a variety of sources but up until that seed funding, the newsletter was exclusively funded through NFTs. So super fans basically could buy the Dirt NFTs, which cost a certain amount of Ethereum and that is essentially how Dirt was funding itself. People that buy the NFTs, I believe get access to a decentralized, autonomous organization called Dirt Dow, which essentially gives them some control over the editorial direction of the newsletter. It's pretty cool. So Dirt is basically doing what I think a lot of companies have said they could do with Web 3. 0 and NFTs and crypto. But they're the furthest along, I think, in the media space, they're really showing what Web 3. 0 can do and can be. And I'm not totally sure how well it's going but I would imagine by this funding announcement, it's going pretty well so far. What have you been up to? What have you been watching, JC?
Jacob Cohen: Well, I was watching the Kentucky Derby. I don't know if you saw it. It was pretty entertaining. The Derby is interesting because it's one of the few days each year when I feel like millions of people somehow become experts in horse racing overnight, despite having never ridden a horse.
Rob Litterst: Right. I see people popping up in my timeline, they're all about the odds of certain horses. I'm like," Okay. I didn't know you knew anything about equestrians until today so I'm not listening to a word that you say."
Jacob Cohen: They're analyzing the horse's form itself.
Rob Litterst: Right. Where was this two months ago? Exactly.
Jacob Cohen: In all seriousness though, the Derby was crazy. You had this horse Rich Strike miraculously win against 80- 1 odds.
Rob Litterst: 80- 1 odds? Oh my goodness.
Jacob Cohen: Oh. And even if you don't know horse racing, you could tell on the video how incredible it was, the comeback, all the way from behind, very entertaining. But I was doing some reading up on the Derby and I found it interesting, it really spurs a humongous amount of economic activity. Regionally, it's expected this year to bring in$ 366. 8 million-
Rob Litterst: Wow.
Jacob Cohen: ...according to the Louisville Tourism Board. The horse itself that wins bags$ 1. 86 million. Just inaudible was a little funny because the horse Rich Strike who by the way was purchased for$ 30,000 last fall. So a very good return on investment.
Rob Litterst: Oh my goodness. Nice ROI on that.
Jacob Cohen: Rich Strike literally struck riches. So I thought that was nice.
Rob Litterst: I see what you did there, I like that.
Jacob Cohen: You see what I did? Exactly. I was just interested in looking into what's next for horse racing. I saw this interesting interview with the Head of Churchill Downs, which is the organization that owns The Kentucky Derby. And he basically was explaining that the company's going to shift its focus on international growth.
Rob Litterst: Okay.
Jacob Cohen: He said, Japan, for instance, has a horse racing industry that's three times the size as Americas. Which is fascinating to me, I had no idea that was a thing. I also wouldn't be surprised if horse racing saw just a massive boom in US popularity buoyed by a hit reality docuseries.
Rob Litterst: Oh, yeah. Get the jockeys on a docuseries?
Jacob Cohen: Exactly.
Rob Litterst: No doubt.
Jacob Cohen: But exactly what has happened with Formula One in the last couple years.
Rob Litterst: Yeah. Talk about another thing that's just gone crazy on your timeline. I had no idea that so many of my friends were Formula One fans until-
Jacob Cohen: Yeah. Because they weren't.
Rob Litterst: Right. Yeah. Exactly. I could definitely see that. It's really funny, American sports, I feel like it's very hard to break in and become a legitimate sport to the extent that the main four are, football, basketball, hockey and baseball.
Jacob Cohen: Yep.
Rob Litterst: I've heard people talking about how lacrosse is going to be the next one for a really long time, I know that hasn't really happened. But some of these niche sports, like you said, Formula One, I mean, NASCAR is freaking huge. I don't know if you've ever been to a NASCAR race?
Jacob Cohen: No.
Rob Litterst: I've been to a couple and they're absolutely insane.
Jacob Cohen: I feel like the fans are too.
Rob Litterst: Yeah, exactly. True story here. There is one time I went to a NASCAR race with my uncle and a guy who was sitting in front of us was just crushing beers, he probably drank, I want to say, 18 Bud Lights in a couple hours. My uncle and I are just marveling at this guy and finally my uncle asks him, he's like," How have you been able to drink that many beers without going to the bathroom? It's insane." And the guy was like," Man, are you kidding me? I'm wearing a diaper."
Jacob Cohen: And you slowly shifted away from him?
Rob Litterst: Yeah, exactly. As soon as he got that answer.
Jacob Cohen: Anyways, in other news, Instagram this week will let a small group of users display verifiable NFTs on the platform. In January, Twitter actually introduced NFT profile pictures and Instagram Head, Adam Mosseri said the move could help introduce the technology to a broader range of people. Which is true but it does come at a time when NFT sales have plummeted 92% from their peak in September. So we'll see how that develops. Also, Google's Annual Developer Conference is taking place tomorrow at 1: 00 PM Eastern. A lot of people think the company's going to announce its first smart watch. Why do they think that? Well, there have been spec leaks, design leaks, US trademark filing with the pixel watch name leak. And apparently a prototype of the watch was found left in a restaurant, which is just a little awkward. But on the topic. With that I think it's time to discuss smart watches, health trackers, all that good stuff of which I believe you are an avid user. Is that correct, Robert?
Rob Litterst: That is correct. Definitely to an extent. So, I never owned a Fitbit but I have bought some more niche wearables, which I'll get to here in a little bit. The reason we're talking about wearables is The Economist wrote this awesome missive on the state of wearables and how they'll play a role in the healthcare system going forward. And they laid out three really big reasons that wearables could take modern healthcare to the next level. The first one is early diagnosis. So we're going well beyond step counting here, JC. So we're not just looking at hitting 10,000 a day. So there're some examples of this already happening, Oura Rings allow women to predict their menstrual cycles, which has helped some women conceive when they're trying to get pregnant. WHOOP has the ability to detect COVID 19 early using respiratory rate data. This actually happened to me, I was able to see that I was early onset getting COVID because I could tell from my respiratory rate, along with some of the other symptoms that I had.
Jacob Cohen: Interesting.
Rob Litterst: But in the future, this could include a much wider spectrum of psychological and physical diagnosis. So it's going to be really interesting to see where that goes. And obviously, I mean, if wearables are showing signs of early heart defects and stuff like that, people are going to get way more serious about wearables. And I mean, that's when it can become serious, massive business and really help people, which would be awesome.
Jacob Cohen: Do you remember Pebble? For those listening, I feel like it was the first smart watch that came out.
Rob Litterst: Yeah. It had a real cool minimalist vibe.
Jacob Cohen: Yeah. They launched on Kickstarter, which is a crowdfunding platform, but they raised over$ 10 million on Kickstarter for their first watch. After people saw how popular this idea was and the potential for it and all the other innovators, big companies, other people saw what was going on, they started working on their own projects. And very quickly Pebble, which was doing well for a little while, I believe they actually had an offer to be bought out by Citizen Watches for$ 740 million in 2015.
Rob Litterst: Oh my goodness.
Jacob Cohen: They just lost their magic and I believe they sold to Fitbit for something like$ 40 million. But they were cool and I do think Pebble sparked a lot of this potential for wearables in the creative space, the fitness space and especially the health space.
Rob Litterst: Yeah. I think the holy grail of where wearables could go is the next thing that The Economist laid out, which is personalized treatment. You and I were talking, before this, about Levels, which is an app that essentially pairs with a continuous glucose monitor, which is what a lot of people who have diabetes use to track their blood sugar. And allows it to connect and sync with their app. And then they have users essentially enter when they eat and what they eat so that they can see how their blood sugar is reacting to different foods. And a lot of their users end up making big time dietary changes. I actually used Levels during its pilot. It was really surprising, there were a few different foods that spiked my blood sugar that I was not expecting. And I think what it opened my eyes to is that everybody is really very different and everybody has different metabolisms and everybody has different gut health and all sorts of things that can really change the way that certain foods work for them. And so that's one thing, Levels has had a huge impact, I think, on a lot of users in helping them keep their blood sugar lower. But in the future, this same concept can apply to a wide range of things beyond just food. For most prescriptions or most medications, they won't work for 30 to 50% of people. And so when you think about that, and then you think about being able to personalize treatment, the idea is you can find the perfect medication and the perfect dosage for the perfect person. And all of a sudden you can solve their health problems much more easily. It's going to be interesting to see where it goes.
Jacob Cohen: All right. Bada- bing- bada- boom, that is it folks. For more on the hustler's tech and business coverage and links to all kinds of cool stuff from around the web, check out our newsletter at Thehustle. co. Thanks to our Editor, Robert Hartwig and Executive Producer, Darren Clarke. I'm Jacob Cohen here with Rob Litterst. You've been listening to The Hustle Daily Show brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network. See you tomorrow.
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