Wearable Tech World Feature Article
November 17, 2015

The Future of Fitness Wearables: Moving Beyond the Watch

The sports wearable market is set to explode, with future revenues as big as any offensive tackle: Juniper Research has predicted $10 billion in hardware revenues projected over the next five years. That’s up from $3.3 billion this year.

Yes, the amateur athlete will continue to drive the market with more advanced Fitbits, Forerunners, GPS trackers, and other fitness watches; however, the professional teams will become the testing ground of the newest, most advanced wearable tech.

Sports teams have already incorporated wearables for increased physical data during practice. They’ve been using smart clothing to monitor heart rate and blood oxygen saturation levels. The major sporting broadcasters’ next goal is to make this information available, in real-time, to game viewers. That means you’ll watch Lebron’s heart rate spike during a dunk, but it also means improvements for sideline healthcare providers.

The authors of the research stressed how valuable and transformative this new technology may be. “Without clear boundaries for data ownership and use, biometrics could become part of sports players' contracts, and even dictate initial hiring practices through predictive analytics," noted author James Moar. "While wearables companies involved in corporate wellness have been very careful to ensure employers can only see aggregate data and that workers can opt out, pro sports have no such safeguards."

One caveat to this prediction: while the wearable hardware is rapidly advancing, vendors are still struggling to build apps to present all the new data. Not all consumers need or want to know their VO2 stat, their blood saturation level or other advanced information. That means vendors will need to tailor apps to different users without sacrificing hardware innovation. 

So expect two major innovations from the wearable fitness sector: way more detailed sports games on TV, and a lot more fitness watches in everyday life. We’ll be healthier, more informed about our health, and you’ll have new fodder for those awkward office sports conversations. It’ll be a good future.    

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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