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Summary:

RunKeeper is now poised to become a full-fledged fitness network with the release of a Health Graph API, which opens up the RunKeeper experience enabling a host of apps and devices to publish to RunKeeper’s FitnessFeed and contribute to its Health Graph.

Health-Graph2

RunKeeper, which began as a way to track runs for users, is now poised to become a full-fledged fitness network with the release of a Health Graph API that lets developers and device makers tap into its growing data set and community. The API opens up the RunKeeper experience enabling a host of apps and devices to publish to RunKeeper’s FitnessFeed and contribute to its Health Graph.

That will allow its 6 million users to start integrating a much wider array of fitness data into their health history, allowing them to better understand how their progress changes over time and how it compares to others. And it positions RunKeeper as a destination for the growing number of people who are using websites, apps and devices to help improve their health.

RunKeeper had previously integrated with select devices like the Fitbit Tracker and the Wi-Fi Body Scale from Withings. But now many more devices and apps will be able to easily tap into RunKeeper’s back-end, helping create a full picture or map of a user’s health. Foursquare, Zeo, Withings, Polar, Wahoo and BodyMedia have been announced as launch partners for the Health Graph alpha.

“Imagine a system that can identify correlations between a user’s eating habits, workout schedule, social interactions and more, to deliver an ecosystem of health and fitness apps, websites, and sensor devices that really work, based on a user’s own historical health and fitness data. The Health Graph has the potential to completely alter the health and fitness landscape,” wrote RunKeeper CEO Jason Jacobs in a blog post.

RunKeeper will store a host of data from the distance and pace of runs and bicycle sessions to data on weight, blood pressure, sleep and diabetes. And it will evolve over time to absorb any health-related information and body stats from third-parties.

This is part of a larger evolution of RunKeeper, which I wrote about earlier this year after the company went freemium by eliminating the cost of its $10 app. The move helped grow downloads of the app and build a big community of RunKeeper users, but it also accelerated RunKeeper’s ambitions to be a broad holistic platform for users who want to track their overall health and fitness.

There’s a lot to like about RunKeeper, which has been out in front in the charge to help turn smartphones into health devices. By tapping into the phone’s sensors as well as connecting to other third-party devices, RunKeeper has been able to make it easy to achieve the idea of the quantified self, where we’re able to better understand ourselves through self-tracking. It should get even better with new improvements to Bluetooth, which my colleague Kevin pointed out is helping enable a lot of medical related devices. 

And now by opening up the platform to developers and device makers, RunKeeper is poised to be a repository for our health data as well as a social network for fitness-minded people. I think it shows that there is a need for more specialized social networks like this that are tailored to a specific audience. And it’s just great to see that all of this technology and social engineering can be brought to bear on the real issue of health. People have a hard time tackling their own health problems but I think RunKeeper, if it continues to evolve, can be a valuable resource in helping not just fitness and running buffs but a much larger swath of the population who want to improve their health.

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  1. It’s interesting that there’s no mention made of the competition, especially the company that pioneered this concept, MapMyFitness. MMF has had a complete and functional API system for more than a year. Another social network for fitness, dailymile.com, has had an API for more than 6 months. So this really isn’t pioneering news.

    Also, this article implies that 6 million users are currently actively using the RunKeeper application. This is simply not true. While RunKeeper may have had 6 million downloads of their free app, a download does not constitute an active user, since a small fraction of downloads will continue as active users.

    In fact, Compete.com would say that RunKeeper has only 60,000 active visitors every month, only 1% of downloads. Here is a URL that compares the relative monthly visitor traffic of three sites: MapMyRun.com, dailymile.com, and RunKeeper.com:

    http://siteanalytics.compete.com/mapmyrun.com+dailymile.com+runkeeper.com/

    Disclosure: I’m the CEO of Abvio, a developer of iPhone fitness apps Runmeter, Cyclemeter and Walkmeter.

    1. Thanks for the info, Steve. I found this article via a tweet by Dr. Eric Topol, a famous cardiologist here in San Diego. Dr. Topol is also the preeminent thought leader in wireless health, e.g. he is Chief Innovation Officer of the West Wireless Health Institute.

      I follow developments in wireless health closely as I founded and manage the 6,000+ member Wireless Health group on LinkedIn, which I think you’ll find of value: http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=2181454

  2. Interesting ideas but the RunKeeper website is an absolute fail from a design prospective: a simple account login screen with no further details about the site. There’s more on the blog if you happen to notice the link at the bottom of the screen. I for one would like to know what information is collected, presentation options, compatible devices, and security (employers, heath insurers, credit agencies, etc. are searching for and collecting this information for obvious reasons), without having to setup an account first.

  3. Endomondo has a much better social angle with their fitness app and has had it for some time. It’s great that I can connect with my friends and they can even give me pep talks(or talk trash! haha) while I’m working out! It really keeps me motivated through the whole workout and so it’s easier for me to finish running!

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