REVIEW: Activity Trackers, The Next Big Thing, or just a Fad?

Introduction

Wearable technology has been steadily gaining momentum over the past few years. Fitbit first started the trend in the late 2000’s,  with other competitors like Jawbone following suit.  Today, activity trackers do a lot more than count steps and have made great strides (pun intended). Which begs the question, could it make an impact in Sri Lanka? Lets review.

The Positives

1. Data driven Motivation

The activity trackers of today are a lot more advanced than the pedometers of yesteryear. A cursory Google search reveals that these trackers can track your heart rate, sleep patterns, calories burnt, distance walked/run and now strength. For some, this is a bunch of useless data. However, if you wish to get fitter it shows your progress. Knowing that you are walking faster, burning more calories, lifting heavier weights or just getting enough sleep gives people an incentive to push themselves, and become healthier over time.

Image Credit: Isource

2. Social

The dominance of social media has meant that everyone knows what their friends are upto. Everyone has that one friend who posts a selfie and/or checks in a gym. Posting about how much you walked in an hour, or how much you can bench press issues an unofficial challenge to friends, daring them to see whether they can beat your score. This goes hand in hand with the need to look good in front of our peers, whether its getting that approval online, or in real life.

3. Synchronization

Arguably, the biggest advantage is that most of these activity trackers sync with various operating systems. For example, the Fitbit Flex syncs with Android, iOS and Windows. This helps manufacturers as they have a bigger target market, and gives customers freedom of knowing that they are not restricted to few brands. Furthermore, this ensures people have access to their data 24/7-whether it’s on their mobile, laptop or ipad.

fitbit
Image Credit:Dcrainmaker

The Negatives

1. Style and ‘fit’

Depending on the model, sometimes it may not be right for you. As social individuals we wear clothes and accessories which reflect our personalities. Overall, the products themselves lack style, and is not a natural ‘fit’ in the modern customers wardrobe. Furthermore, people aren’t sure how to use it. This is probably due to the next reason.

2. Wearable devices vs Smartphones

Wearable activity trackers were designed in order to complement smartphones, but some individuals don’t see the point of getting both. Yes, an activity tracker on your arm can track your heart rate. However, whats the point if you can use a smartphone and download a free app to do the same thing?

smartphone and activity tracker
Image Credit: Archos

3. Cost

As with any new technology which hits the market, it’s not cheap. the Fitbit Flex is priced at $99, which is a hefty price to pay if you are a Sri Lankan. Nevertheless, if you are very interested in getting lots of data about your workouts, this may be for you. In addition, you would expect for prices to come down over time as more competitors enter the market.

4. Accuracy

Activity trackers receive data via sensors. However, not all sensors are created equal. If say, a device has more sensors – you will be more likely to get a more complete picture of your workout routine. However, this would make the device heavier, more expensive and have a shorter battery life, all of  which customers rate as very important. Striking this balance is something manufacturers need to keep working on.

Final Decision

Given the cost and availability of substitutes,  there is a likelihood that this may initially be adopted by upper middle class Sri Lankans who are fitness conscious. Do not expect the general public to pay a massive portion of their income for this gadget anytime soon, although activity trackers could eventually be embraced by the general population as time goes on.

What do you think about activity trackers; are they the future of fitness, or just the latest fashion? Tell us in the comments!

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Disclaimer: The views shared in this blog are based on the macro economic conditions & industry status quo as per the time of publishing.

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