In our modern data-driven, information-gathering, tech-savvy world, is it any surprise that companies are devising computing products that seamlessly weave into our daily lives?
Health and fitness wearables are one of the most recent additions to constant connectivity.
If you aren’t familiar with wearable technology, you aren’t alone. It’s a new burgeoning market that doesn’t yet seem to have caught fire in the United States, according to some industry analysts. Currently the biggest part of sales is overseas.
Wearables are personalized devices that are worn on the body, either attached to the body itself with a wrist bracelet or necklace or inserted into a clothing item, such as shoes or socks, to enhance functionality.
Most track your activity patterns, calories burned, and sleep patterns. Some devices are surrogates for smart phones, allowing you to sync and use your phone without having it in your hand.
The research firm, the NPD Group reported that about one in three consumers have heard of wearable fitness devices, but just 28 percent intend to buy one. Demographically, women (58 percent) outnumber men among prospective buyers.
Among prospective buyers, counting calories (50 percent) and tracking the number of steps taken in a day (32 percent) are most sought-after features. Just 6 percent say they would be interested in sharing their fitness data on a social network, according to the NPD study.
Well-known tech companies like Google, Samsung, Sony, LG, Apple and Garmin, as well as a handful of startups, such as Fitbit, Jawbone and Misfit have jumped into the digital wearables game, now estimated at more than $330 million in retail sales.
“The market is now large enough to accommodate a variety of products aimed at all levels of athlete -- from serious performance-minded consumers to hobbyists --a sure sign of maturity,” said Ben Arnold, executive director, industry analyst with the NPD Group.
There is a dizzying array of fitness trackers on the market to choose from, so picking one may seem confusing. Just keep in mind that the best device is like a diet: It’s the one that works best for you.
Misfit spokesperson Alyssa Anderson said that right now most activity trackers accomplish the same basic functions — they all aim to help people be more active and healthy. However each brand is carving out a niche with specialized features.
The company’s Shine device touts ease of wearability for the fashion conscious.
It’s a thin, lightweight wafer sensor about the size of a quarter, and designed to be elegant, sleek and simply modern so it can be worn anywhere. It looks as haute with heels or a leather jacket and jeans as it does with workout gear.
“The idea of Shine was to make a device that was truly elegant,” said Anderson. To do so, the company opted for a “Smart jewelry” concept. They used aircraft-grade aluminum and shied away from everything “big, bulky and plastic that screams activity tracker.”
Shine’s other notable feature is that it’s the first waterproof fitness device for up to 50 meters. It’s your mom’s pedometer on steroids. It tracks running, cycling, swimming and sleeping algorithms. Shine's Bluetooth syncs with your smartphone and uses an app to set personalized activity goals, and to reveal stats and trends.
The wafer-sized unit weighs about the same as two quarters and comes in a spectrum of fashion-forward colors. Shine sells for around $99 at most major retail stores or online.
Lynette Summerill is an award-winning writer and watersports junkie living in San Diego. In addition to writing about cancer for EmpowHER, her work has been seen in publications internationally.
Interview. Alyssa Anderson, Misfit xxx. 10 July 10, 2014.
Wearable Tech Device Awareness surpasses 50 percent Among US Consumers, According to NPD. 7 Jan. 2014.
NYT. Fitness Devices that do (Just) a bit more. Molly Wood. 18 June 2014
Reviewed July 15, 2014
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith