Activity Trackers & Fitness Wearables

It’s fair to say that technology gets a lot of stick for the part it has played in the increased levels of obesity in society. The distractions of television, computers and games consoles have all been attributed with reducing the amount of exercise that we do and increasing the amount of time that we spent sat on our sofas. But just as we have seen things that may prevent us from keeping fit born out of the technological era, we have also seen products that have the ability to do the exact opposite.

Even since the 1980s activity trackers have existed; monitoring all sorts of things from the original pedometers, to the small bicycle computers that were all the range back in the 90s. So what has changed? Well for one we are monitoring so much more now. We have gone from just measuring steps to now measuring heart rate, sleep quality, body temperature, and much more.

In recent years the emphasis has switched from the monitoring to long term logging. The developments in applications for our smartphones means that it is all about syncing! Having this information on one device just isn’t enough. It needs to be transferred to another one with the appropriate apps that will allow us to number crunch all the data.

And that’s exactly what happens. Then these apps tell us where we are going wrong. Do we need to take more steps? Should we be sleeping more at night? Is our heart beating too fast on a regular basis?

The popularity is remarkable. All the major companies spotted this a while ago now and they all have their own form of fitness wearables, be it the Microsoft Band, Fitbit or the Apple Smartwatch. And they are just three of them. Samsung, Sony, LG, Garmin, you name it! They’ve all got one.

So why aren’t they everywhere? Okay they are in the shop windows, I’ll give you that. And if you head down to your gym you might see plenty. But shouldn’t fitness wearables be as common as a pair of headphones?

Well they aren’t for everyone. Some see the expenditure as extravagant. Why purchase and unnecessary luxury when you can get an app on your phone for free that does most of the same stuff? Then there is the social media explosion. Everyone is sharing progress, logging their results and being active in their newly found community. For some all that means is that they are more exposed to privacy invasion from third-party access.

Then you have to consider that this is all very new. The market for wearable technology itself has only really taken off in the last ten years and fitness wearables are even younger than that.

I think another point that could be made is that theses companies probably didn’t know exactly what their target market was. Yes they obviously expected top sell to the fitness community. But that was a given. My guess is they expected far more unfit members of the public to invest in these products in an effort to change thier lives. And that really hasn’t happened on the scale that it should have.

There is so much potential for growth here and that is the exciting part. It seems like we are seeing more wearable technology appear on a monthly basis. So if you prefer managing your fitness the old fashioned way then stick to the pen and paper. It has worked for so long for a reason. But if you want to experiment with the part that technology has to play in our fitness, then there is plenty out there to choose from!

Ollie Lawrence
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