Inside Fitbit’s Quest to Be Your Health Monitor

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Inside Fitbit’s Quest to Be Your Health Monitor
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Mr. Park says he is ‘cautiously optimistic’ that Fitbit devices will be able to detect Covid-19. When Fitbit Inc. launched its first wearable fitness tracker, the market was mostly confined to low-cost pedometers. Thirteen years later, people are hungry for devices that monitor everything from blood oxygen to sleep […]

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Mr. Park says he is ‘cautiously optimistic’ that Fitbit devices will be able to detect Covid-19.

When Fitbit Inc. launched its first wearable fitness tracker, the market was mostly confined to low-cost pedometers. Thirteen years later, people are hungry for devices that monitor everything from blood oxygen to sleep patterns, which has lured tech giants such as Apple Inc. into the segment.

James Park, Fitbit’s co-founder and chief executive officer, is intent on not being left in the dust. Fitbit’s new Sense smartwatch, which recently went on sale, is packed with the latest health-tracking features. The company also is testing whether its devices might eventually be used to detect influenza or Covid-19 before the wearer even shows symptoms.

Mr. Park’s ability to keep up with the competition might ultimately depend on Fitbit’s access to capital and talent. To that end, Fitbit has agreed to be bought by Alphabet Inc.’s Google in a $2.1 billion deal that is still under review by regulators.

The 43-year-old Mr. Park recently talked to The Wall Street Journal about Fitbit’s transition, the intensifying competition and his expectations for life under Google control. Edited excerpts follow.

WSJ: You have a new smartwatch on sale, you’re about to be acquired by Google, and you are increasingly focused on helping users monitor their health minute by minute. Can you talk about this from your viewpoint?

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