Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 15th 2015 Contents Getting into shape, losing
weight and, most importantly,
staying in shape can be chal-
lenge Today, more fitness
enthusiasts are turning to
smart, wearable devices for
exercise support. The growing
trend is changing how people approach health
and fitness, and creating a new multibillion indus-
try in the process.
The rapid innovation occurring around wearable
devices with smart sensors that are telling us
more about our lives and our habits. A smart,
activity tracker can provide detailed information
on how much exercise you are getting (or not
getting). It can also offer insights into your sleep
and daily activity, all with the goal of helping you
live a healthier lifestyle.
The top fitness wearables on the market are
the evolutionary successors of the early pedome-
ters. Today s miniature marvels now house an
array of sensors and gadgetry that make them
much smarter, more accurate, and a whole lot
more functional than their single-purpose pred-
Wearable fitness devices typically come paired
with a companion web account and mobile app
and offer far greater insight into the habits that
make up your lifestyle, including sleep, calorie
consumption, heart rate, blood pressure, and
Small devices, big business
The smart, wearable devices now pushing users
to get up and get active is now becoming a huge
global business. Global shipments of wearable fit-
ness devices are projected to have come in at 70.2
million units in 2014, according to Gartner. Smart
wristbands made up the largest segment with
about US$20 million in shipments.
IHS, an industry forecaster, estimates that sales
of wearable technology that can link to the Internet
or work with mobile apps will grow from US$8.6
billion in 2012 to almost US$30 billion by 2018.
As a marker for how significant the segment
has become, wearables and home fitness devices
were well-represented at this year s International
Consumer Electronic Show.
A seemingly endless stream of players and prod-
ucts are now flooding into the market for fitness-
oriented devices, including Jawbone s Up, Fitbit s
Force, Microsoft s Band and Lenovo s Vibe Band.
But devices are only part of the picture. On-
demand streaming workout providers such as IAC
Interactive s Daily Burn are bringing guided exercise
into the home.
Meanwhile, software makers like Apple,
Microsoft and Google are actively developing plat-
forms to link the gadgets and the data the collect,
to applications that ordinary uses can run to track
their fitness goals and health status. In addition
to Apple s HealthKit, Google is targeting the space
with Google Fit for Android devices. Microsoft
has also joined the fray with the Microsoft Band
and the upcoming Microsoft Health cloud services
and complementary mobile apps built on Azure
The rise of digital fitness wearables represents
an opportunity for the fitness industry, but also
for local software developers to build the software
for parsing the data these gadgets collect.
Consumer electronics giant Samsung is also
integrating wearables and software with its Sim-
band reference design and SAMI platform for app
Smartphone maker HTC also recently
announced a partnership with athletic equipment
company Under Armour to bring wearable fitness
technology to athletes. HTC plans to design a
series of products to work in conjunction with
Under Armour s fitness apps.
Given the growing union between device and
data, even if your wearable doesn t inspire you to
move, its social sweatwork just might.
Research data from the fitness tech companies
suggest that baked-in social networking features---
like being able to send cheers or taunts to motivate
your fellow Nike FuelBand users or seeing the
step counts of others on your Fitbit-wearing
team---may help make you more active.
Fitbit, for example, says users who join up with
friends tend to be 27 per cent more active than
those using the device solo, and that for every
friend you add, you increase the activity level by
about 750 steps a day. Nike+ FuelBand stats show
that average NikeFuel, or activity, points go from
3,137 in solo users to 3,531 in those linked with
"The fitness tech products we are seeing are
all complementary to the traditional exercise expe-
rience because the target audience increasingly
wants real-time, personalised information on their
exercise regime and health to better inform how
to train whether there are in a gym, with a group
or following a personal plan," according to fitness
trainer and wearables enthusiast, Lorenzo Hodges.
"As more people turn to smart devices to help
with their workouts and make it easier for them
to track progress, share it with training partners
and generally boost interest in people who want
to get fit."
In the future, "Consumers will be able to inte-
grate the data from most wearables into a single
account where their data can be analysed using
cognizant computing to provide useful insights
to wearers," Angela McIntyre, a research director
at Gartner, wrote in a recent report.
Steps to wearable success
For all the promise, wearable devices still have
some work to do before they become the must-
have fitness accessory. That s where the wearable
innovators and entrepreneurs can come in. Making
wearables more functional, more fashionable and
more intelligent will be key to their mainstream
Today s wearables are still in their first steps
but it is clear that they are on a path that will
to empower people to achieve more with their
fitness and wellness.
On that path there is also considerable room
for local developers, entrepreneurs, and innovators
to exercise initiative and stake their claim in this
wearable fitness revolution.
Bevil Wooding is the chief knowledge office
at Congress WBN (C-WBN) an international
non-profit organisation and executive director
at BrightPath Foundation, responsible for C-
WBN's technology education and outreach ini-
tiatives. Follow on Twitter: @bevilwooding
JANUARY 2015 • WEEK THREE www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
COMMENTARY | BG17
Fitness trackers are the hottest
wearables available today,
accounting for 72 per cent of all
"digital fitness device" sales. They
come in all shapes and sizes but
their goal remains the same; to
record what you re doing with
your body each day, whether it s
walking, running, eating or sleep-
Here are 10 activity trackers
and fitness devices that can help
you track your stats and reach
your health goals.
1. FitBit Charge
Perfect for: People s whose Fit-
bit trackers are a bit dated; the
Charge is the natural successor.
2. Jawbone UP
Perfect for: Fashion conscious
bargain hunters; this wearable
provides all the key features at
an affordable price.
3. Garmin Vivofit
Perfect for: Bargain hunters;
this wearable provides all the key
features at an affordable low
4. Lenovo Vibe Band
Perfect for: Health-conscious
gadget lovers in search an afford-
able, cross platform fitness band,
with great battery life.
5. Microsoft Band
Perfect for: Microsoft fans who
don t mind an affordable, fea-
ture-filled band with an uncom-
6. Sony SmartBand Talk
Perfect for: Trend setters.
Sony s latest activity tracker def-
initely breaks the traditional mold
with its e-Ink display and built-
in voice controls.
7. Withings Activité
Perfect for: Stylish fitness fans
who don t want to wear tech-
nology on their wrist.
8. Misfit Shine
Perfect for: People who hate
charging their gadgets; the Shine
has a battery life measured in
months, not days.
9. Samsung Gear Fit
Perfect for: Samsung Galaxy
owners, of course. But the OLED
display is also great for those who
want some pop from their wear-
10. Mio Fuse
Perfect for: runners and
cyclists. It doesn t track sleep or
take your resting heart rate, but
comes with an optical heart rate
monitor for training and a stellar
How activity trackers and fitness wearables are changing health and wellness
Fit for a wearable revolution
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