Wearable Tech World Feature Article
October 20, 2016

Is Wearable Tech Ending up in Your Drawer?

If you follow the annual Consumer Electronics Show, you know that wearables are huge right now. The market is being flooded with wearable devices that people believe help them to live a healthier lifestyle. However, many people are just giving up on the devices about six months into their fitness journey. The question the electronics companies are asking is: Why?

Many people want to live healthier and seek ways to improve their lifestyle. A wearable device is a great way to track your progress on a daily basis and gain a better understanding of how much (or how little) you move throughout the day. We are now realizing these devices aren't helping with our weight loss goals and we are shelving them. There are many reasons why users may be turning away from wearables.

Science Is Finding Wearables Aren't Effective

There are many theories as to why wearables don't work. In fact, there have been several studies that indicate people who don't use a fitness tracker lose more weight than those who do. A recent study conducted at the University of Pittsburgh found that participants who wore a tracker lost 7.7 pounds, while those who didn't use one lost 13 pounds.

There are many theories as to why the trackers don't help users lose weight. Some believe that wearables place a focus on fitness and don’t emphasize the importance of a healthy diet. Others theorize people who use a tracker are more likely to cease their activity after their daily goals are achieved, making trackers counter-productive to their weight loss goals.

Users Become Bored With Wearables

Many former users of wearable devices cite the reasons they abandon the devices as; they get bored with the device, forget to charge it, and just don't want to wear it any longer. It becomes burdensome to remember to strap your wearable on, in addition to your workout clothes, shoes and other gear. When people already have so much in their life to keep track of, it can become a nuisance to add to the list.

They Sometimes Aren’t Accurate

In a recent Cleveland Clinic study, doctors found that the wrist monitors weren’t an accurate means of measuring your heart rate. Chest monitors were more accurate because they monitor the electricity your heart produces with each beat, like an EKG.

A study in Canada, by Ball State University’s Human Performance Lab, determined that there were also differences in the accuracy of the number of steps, which were counted manually and tracked by various wearable devices. Although, wrist wearables did test more accurate than hip pedometers. However, there were large discrepancies in the number of calories burned all across the board.

No Incentive to Use Them

Duke-National University of Singapore Medical School conducted another study, but added a financial incentive for participants to keep track of steps. For those who were earning cash incentives, the participants were much more likely to use their trackers after six months. A full 88 percent of this group was still using a wearable device compared to only 62 percent of the charity group and the no-incentive group.

The Bottom Line

People need to work toward their weight loss and fitness goals and see that their efforts are paying off. All of the recent studies are proving that wearables are not an accurate method to measure your level of fitness and may actually be a barrier between achieving your health-based goals. The industry is experiencing an ongoing trend of people abandoning their wearable devices after only six months of use.

Many former users are finding that wrist-worn fitness trackers are counterproductive and have become a stumbling block on their path to success. This trend will continue until wearables become more convenient to use, more accurate, and more interactive and engaging to keep users using them long-term and effectively.

Edited by Alicia Young

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