Jawbone is not dead. It's living on but not in the wearable form it has adopted over the last few years. We've recently learned that Jawbone co-founder and CEO Hosain Rahman has founded a new company called Jawbone Health (or Health Hub) out of the remains of beloved-then-beleaguered fitness tracker maker Jawbone.
It's not actually been confirmed officially, aside from a few job adverts and a response to a rumour story, so expect some sort of quiet re-launch later this year or in 2018. Here's what we know so far - actually, quite a lot.
Jawbone Health: Getting clinical
As the name suggests, it sounds like the new company will be more focused on medical-grade health tech, which take into account metrics like sleep and nutrition than basic lifestyle devices. Essentially, Fitbit won that battle and Jawbone - the consumer company - is going out of business so the execs are, finally, moving on to potentially bigger things.
We first found out about a company named Jawbone Health Hub from a report in The Information, which cited various an anonymous source "close to Jawbone." This person said the new company will make "health-related hardware and software services" as well as servicing Jawbone devices.
That's an interesting detail if it refers to UP wearables as Jawbone's woeful customer service has been the source of much online angst for the past six months or so.
Jawbone Health Hub: The talent
There's also a chance the company could be called Jawbone Health because, although The Information source said that a lot of Jawbone employees had been moved across to the new startup in early 2017, Rahman also seems to be posting for vacancies for Jawbone Health. We guess, Health Hub might be the product.
On the site Glassdoor, there's a bunch of job openings for 'Jawbone Health' in San Mateo, California, most recently a VP of engineering. Jawbone Health has 15 postings on the site as it has also been advertising for product managers, a head of mobile development, machine learning & product design engineers, an art director and a brand writer.
Some of the text in the job descriptions is illuminating such as this precis of the company: "Jawbone Health is at the forefront of revolutionizing primary care for millions of patients worldwide. Combining more than 20 years of proprietary wearable technology with clinically relevant signals, Jawbone Health connects patients and physicians like never before with continuous, data-driven dialogue. This unique position of daily directed guidance stands to redefine primary care, while helping people live happier, healthier and longer."
Jawbone Health: The future
According to those Glassdoor posts, at least one/some of the mobile health apps will be "customer facing" and it seems there will be more of a focus on sleep and nutrition over purely activity compared to the UP line. (We've asked Jawbone for comment on the story but haven't had a response.)
One advert reads: "While wearables have focused primarily on promoting activity, years of Jawbone research and data prove lasting health outcomes are possible with a holistic focus on sleep and nutrition. These learnings in technology and behavior change provide the foundation as Jawbone Health begins its next venture in the clinical space."
The latest news is that Bloomberg has uncovered documents relating to Rahman's plans for Jawbone - whether that's old or new isn't clear - back in October 2016. And it's certainly ambitious.
The plans included creating applications that could help reverse, delay and improve both diabetes and hypertension, detect abnormal hearth rhythms, and improve stress management. The plans propose that consumer-grade tracking equipment would be evolved to medical-grade equipment, allowing for such metrics to be tracked.
Jawbone Health Hub tells Bloomberg that the plans are nearly a year old and reflect the old Jawbone more than the new Jawbone, insisting that Health Hub's plans are still confidential. Regardless, the documents show that Jawbone was looking to use ideas and talents from Spectros, a company Rahman purchased back in 2015. In fact, Spectros founder David Benaron is now the chief medical officer at Jawbone Health.
Jawbone Health Hub: Spectros connection
Together, Jawbone and Spectros created a bracelet based on a T-Stat oximeter, which is a large machine that measures oxygen in tissue. That would allow the bracelet to detect a heart attack or heart failure when tissue isn't receiving enough blood. The plans also include a potential partnership with Microsoft, who would distribute devices and software to corporate employees.
The goal, which also sounds a lot like Jawbone Health Hub's goal, is to eventually sell a whole lot of medical-grade health wearables. The aforementioned heart attack-sensing bracelet, blood pressure monitors, wearable devices for diabetes and stress management wearables are just some of the potential products.
Some of the plans, according to the documents, were quite detailed. The stress management wearable, for instance, would measure respiration, galvanic skin response, skin temperature and blood pressure. There would also be a companion app with exercises to reduce stress, which would cost $7 a month.
Jawbone certainly gets points for ambition and persistence, but it's difficult to imagine the company pulling all of this off anytime soon. After all, the management and employees are still dealing with shifting to a brand new company as well as winding down operations on the old one plus key jobs, like VP of engineering, don't appear to have been filled yet. Still, we'll be keeping an eye on Jawbone reborn throughout 2017 and beyond.