These days, people are intricately tied to their smartphones and rarely disconnect. In a world buzzing with instant messages, mobile notifications and FOMO (fear of missing out), there’s a desperate need for calmness and internal peace that can be found away from connected devices. While many find ways to detox from the always-on lifestyle, a growing number of people are turning to technology to discover stillness and the wonders of meditation they crave.
A paper-thin device that rests under your sheets and monitors your sleep, smart home assistants that act as tech-driven therapists, and weight loss tips based on your breath are just a few examples of new WellTech that’s meeting people’s needs for peace of mind, according to Jeremiah Owyang, Industry Analyst, Kaleido Insights.
“We definitely think ‘WellTech’ is the next digital era,” said Owyang. “We’ve seen social media and the social economy, the digitization of the world around us. The next phase is the digitization of our bodies, augmenting us.”
The “wellness” industry is worth more than $4.2 billion, according to The Global Wellness Institute. And there have been $2.2 billion in investment into 97 modern wellness startups as of March 2019, according to Kaleido Insights. It’s a crowded field, but those at the top are reaping huge financial benefits. One of the largest players in the wellness app business, Headspace, has more than 36 million users and is valued at over $250 million dollars. This year, seven-year-old meditation application Calm reached a $1 Billion valuation.
Most of these companies bring meditation and mental wellness to people via smartphones, and many rely on cloud technology to run their services, according to Owyang.
“In almost every case, we are seeing this tech collecting data from a mobile phone,” he said. “And that is being paired with the cloud, which is how many startups quickly scale without having on-premises infrastructure, and they can grow as their usage base grows.”
Growing Desire for Peace of Mind
Owyang said these companies will need to meet growing demand. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14.2% of American adults surveyed in 2017 said they had practiced meditation at least once in the last year. That’s a huge shift from 2012, when only 4.1% of adults said they practiced meditation.
Journey Meditation is one of those companies rushing to meet the growing desire for services that offer peace of mind. Four years ago, Stephen Sokoler launched the company to bring mental clarity and emotional calm to large groups through in-person presentations. The work of stillness soon became big business as the company expanded to 20 branches in the nation’s biggest cities with clients like Nike, Disney and Facebook.
But Sokoler saw the physical limitations of that in-person experience. So, he built Journey Live, a mobile app, powered by cloud technology. It allows anyone in the world to meditate with a live instructor. Journey Live has 15-minute classes that are available nearly every hour. They also include on-demand sessions.
The wellness bug struck Sokoler several years ago, when he was among the masses of hard charging entrepreneurs feeling stressed and overwhelmed. That frazzle came from running his own startup company, Altrum Honors, while living amidst the bustle of New York City.