Fitness wearables like smartwatches, fitness trackers, and smart rings have become more and more prevalent in our society over the past several years. As the popularity is rising, competition among various brands of fitness wearables is forcing their manufacturers to come up with better and innovative health tracking features.
A fitness wearable that once provided simple steps count has evolved into a smarter machine that tracks our heart and blood oxygen saturation – features once only a lab or a hospital would provide.
“GPS and heart rate monitoring might be today’s must-have features, but tomorrow’s include ECG measurements, which are found on the Apple Watch, Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 and Fitbit Sense. We’re talking about serious health tracking here that can detect medical conditions and sleep problems you don’t even know you have,” writes Jamie Carter in TechRadar.
Dr Conor Heneghan, Lead Research Scientist at Fitbit, says Fitbit is making progress in the areas of sleep apnea and Atrial Fibrillation (AFib), two of the most common health conditions worldwide, while recently published findings from its COVID-19 study suggest its devices have the potential to identify signs of illness before you show symptoms.
“As we all take a greater interest in our health the idea of illness detection will be even more in the spotlight,” says Dr Heneghan. “We believe that wearables can help bridge the gap between visits to the doctor, and facilitate conversations between patients and their doctor.”
Nicholas Kelly, co-founder of care group Axela, believes that the next generation of trackers will have more improvements on the technical side, so instead of having just an always-on display, they will focus more on providing health data like blood glucose, blood pressure, respiratory rate, and pain management.
The next big thing in fitness wearables will be ‘nutrient loss’ and ‘recovery tracking’ – algorithms that tell you what food to eat. Some devices now tell users how long it will take for their body to fully recover from their latest workout.
Smart clothes can perform the same tasks as fitness trackers. Smart clothes can track your heart rate, and monitor stress and sleep. Juniper Research predicts that ‘smart clothing’ will contribute over $11 billion to the fitness wearables market by 2025.
More and more people are using wearables, whether that be for everyday use to help monitor heart rate and other daily health metrics or to motivate their physical activity. If health wearables are prescribed or recommended by people’s doctors or health insurers, more people will start using them.