Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

February 10, 2014

CT firm finds niche with health tracking technology

Photo | Norm bell FitLinxx and its partner SparkPeople share a booth at the recent International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

One of the companies poised to benefit from the explosion of interest in wearable technology is FitLinxx in Shelton.

However the rush of success is anything but sudden for FitLinxx.

The company started in 1993 as a supplier of technology to fitness centers and gyms. When the treadmill told you that you'd walked 1.7 miles, it was likely FitLinxx technology. FitLinxx also made technology that monitored and coached performance on a host of gym equipment. The firm holds patents on the underlying technology.

In 2007, it acquired FitSense, whose specialty was activity tracking. And that marriage led to a wearable device that measures steps, monitors activity and tracks the results over time. By mid-2012, that device had evolved into the Pebble, a tiny bit of technology that fits easily onto a running shoe, a belt or even a bra strap. It measures steps and calories burned, monitors duration and intensity of activity and tracks the results over time. Its coin-sized battery lasts 9-12 months. It's waterproof. With the tap of a finger, its system of lights shows your progress toward individual goals. And data can be downloaded wirelessly, tracked and analyzed by computer.

Today, millions of people are using FitLinxx technologies but relatively few know the FitLinxx name. The firm is also backed by a small group of venture investors including Ironwood Capital in Avon.

“Our business model is based on a partnership model,” explains Russell Serbagi, vice president of strategic business development for FitLinxx. The Pebble and the firm's other products are rebranded and sold by the partners.

Serbagi was with FitSense when it joined FitLinxx in 2007. During the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, he was manning a booth FitLinxx shared with SparkPeople, one of its many partners.

SparkPeople uses the Pebble and marries it to Spark's elaborate community-driven motivational tools and fitness support system. The result is branded as the Spark Activity Tracker, a launching pad to a whole fitness regimen.

SparkPeople has 15 million members and lays claim to the titles of the web's top fitness site and top food site.

SparkPeople is but one of FitLinxx's more than four dozen partners. SonicBoom, which takes a more game-centric approach to fitness, and WebMD are partners. Nike licenses FixLinxx technology.

But the sweet spot for FitLinxx is the corporate wellness market. Its partners include National Jewish Health, ShapeUp, PureWellness, HealthyRoads, myInertia and FitKIK — a veritable who's who of corporate and personal wellness programs.

“We don't sell the Pebble directly to consumers,” said Ann Hamann, executive vice president of marketing. FitLinxx's partners get the company's technology into the hands of consumers via the partners' connections to the wellness programs.

The FitLinxx team designs and engineers the products in Shelton but the products are built in China. FitLinxx employs about 70 people in Shelton, its corporate headquarters, and a satellite office in Westborough, Mass.

FitLinxx also builds scales and blood pressure monitors that communicate wirelessly. It supplies applications that can collect data whenever a unit is in the vicinity of a sensor, a popular feature for large employee wellness plans.

The underlying goal is to design products that will enable everyone — no matter what their fitness level — to participate in a program, Hamann said.

She said new products are under design that will expand FitLinxx's reach into the healthcare technology space. She sees a bright future for FitLinxx as more insurers, hospitals and healthcare providers recognize the long-term benefits of enabling a healthier workforce.

Sign up for Enews


Order a PDF