The best wearable health products
I’m a great fan of the idea of wearable health systems and pleased to see that they are really taking off now. In the past few years I’ve had a couple of Fitbits and now have a Jawbone UP. Here’s my take on what are the important things about choosing a wearable health product.
The device itself
Because this is the part that everyone can see, most manufacturers have tried to make them as fashionable as they can. The Fitbit Flex, the BodyMedia systems and Misfit shine are marketed as jewelry like accessories. More important for me though is how easy they are to wear. When I had a Fitbit Ultra, I found it rather annoying to have to move my Fitbit around. I now much prefer the wristband devices such as the Jawbone UP or the NIke Fuelband. They are easy to wear all day and you’ve not really got to think too much about them.
The devices vary greatly in how they communicate with the user. The Jawbone UP has no screen at all and it manages to communicate with the user via vibrations. However the Misfit Shine and the FitBit Flex which don’t show specific stats but just have LEDs to give you a rough idea of how you’re doing. It’s hard to know which of the systems will become more popular in the future, whether people want to be able to constantly see feedback on what’s happening on their device.
Most of the new wearable health devices can track lots of kinds of data, for example exercise or sleep over long periods of time and can produce graphs of it. The Jawbone UP takes this further by interpreting patterns and connections in activities of their users, although this will not necessarily be individualized for yourself. This is one area which the manufacturers of the devices could improve in the future.
Some of the machines integrate with external devices better than others. Fitbit is particularly good for integration because it takes weight data and links it up with activity and food tracking apps.
Nike takes a different approach with their new NikeFuel MIssions, which is designed to use traditional video game strategies such as avatars and levels to get people to be active in real life. This gamification could be a big thing in the future.
It could be useful to be able to easily access information on different items that you might need for whatever sport you are taking part in, such as the best zumba shoes or best crossfit shoes for instance.
As more and more manufacturers come into the market it’s likely to get increasingly competitive and they are going to have to provide more and more extra experiences to differentiate and defeat the opposition. It’s an exciting time for wearable health devices and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.