3 June 2017 / 11:47 am
The evolution of smartphone technologies coupled with rapid advances in biometric and health monitors has launched the wearable health device into the modern gym, exercise and fitness environment. It is now normal for gym users to use some form of wearable technology to enhance their training and fitness programme. Devices such as Apple’s Watch and Samsung Gear provide features that allow users to record their daily activity, steps and distances as well as GPS tracks. More specialised wearable devices such as the FitBit Blaze, the Garmin Vivosmart and Jawbone UP2 have become an essential part of the serious athlete’s training programme. The rise and acceptance of social media allows users to preserve and share their life and exercise memories as well as compete with friends and family remotely.
Early wearable technologies included heart rate monitor bands and activity trackers, some of which could be linked up to gym equipment. As people have taken more interest in their health however the individual has been able to choose the way that they collect and store their data. This health tracking data collection is part of the quantified, or measurable-self movement.
Access to smartphones is rapidly rising and a new report from Cisco says that by 2020, there will more people around the world who own a phone than those who have electricity or running water. The report also suggests that there will then be around 11.6 billion “mobile-ready” tech devices, mostly due to the increase in wearable technologies. There are over 150,000 health related applications available for download onto modern smartphones and at least half of smartphone users have used a health related application. Around one in five people is the US currently own some form of wearable technology device. As a consequence the wearable technology industry is now worth $14 billion a year and is due to rise to $34 billion over the next four years.
The future of wearable technologies looks exciting with augmented and virtual reality devices on the immediate horizon offering enhanced training environments and experiences. Group training systems such as MyZone will change the way that people participate in exercise classes. Developments in longitudinal activity data analysis with systems such as IBM Watson’s computer will hopefully lead to greater personalised analysis of wearable technology data streams. I expect that using our own quantified data in a smart way will allow us to predict changes in our behaviour or performance. These systems should then be able to provide feedback to modify our training or exercise techniques to protect the individual as well as enhance outcomes.