Outside Magazine has an article on fitness trackers in their October 2015 issue that highlights 3 key misconceptions that have hindered the industry and mass adoption of fitness trackers and wearables. Author John Bradley (@johnwbradley) spent two months testing 16 different fitness trackers in search of the “ultimate fitness tracker” and the conclusions he came to are spot on:
1. There is no perfect fitness tracker for everyone
2. The wearables and fitness tracker industry is both succeeding and failing at the same time
Here’s why (highlights are mine):
“Three key mistakes have hurt people’s relationships with fitness trackers. The first is a tendency to lump them all together. An entry-level pedometer is not the same as an Apple Watch with optical heart-rate detection, and that Apple Watch is not the same as a Garmin Forerunner 920XT that can record swim workouts, analyze running form, and estimate V02 max. Just because a basic step tracker doesn’t change things doesn’t mean the entire category is without merit.
“The idea that a single wearable is for everyone is wrong,” Palley says. “These are specific tools designed to help you do something better that’s both very personal and very diverse.”
Second, from the consumer perspective, the focus on hardware is misguided. People buy a tracker, then build their goals around what it can measure. The trick is to start with what you want to accomplish, determine which data best reflect it, then find the hardware and apps that deliver that data. Goals, data, technology, in that order.
The third mistake is the most important: a failure on the part of both buyers and manufacturers to understand feedback loops and the psychology of behavior change.The data must be novel and relevant, but also presented in a way that encourages and measures transformation. “The big challenge with apps or fitness-tracker technology is that, in general terms, they’re asking a huge percentage of their customers to do a new behavior,” says Beam founder Frommeyer. “So the premise is, you have to wear something new, every day—a physical change to your appearance. And after you make that change, you have to adjust your behavior.”
The Outside Magazine article goes into extensive detail on the state of the market and is well worth the read. You can find the full article here.
These conclusions are very much in line with what Valencell has been talking about for years and it’s great to see this getting prominent media attention. In fact, Dr. Steven LeBoeuf recently spoke about this at the Rockstars of Wearables conference in a session called “What if There is No Killer App for Wearables?”. You can see the presentation: