WEARABLES. At the CES it was the category on everyone’s tongue, and I’m very interested to see how this category develops, and what it’s really going to mean in terms of changing our lifestyles and habits.
Being a runner, I’ve been using so called wearables for a long time now. In fact I had one of the original Polar heart rate monitor watches that had a pod that went on your foot to measure your movement. Now it’s a Garmin GPS watch with heart monitor.
The thing with these performance wearables to me is that they are not really permanent fixtures – you put them on when you need them and take them off when you’re not doing strenuous activity. The rise of the so called activity tracker is, in my mind something quite different – unobtrusive, and ever present.
Now, I’ll admit I’m a little late on this adoption curve, but I got myself a Fitbit Flex to primarily track my sleep patterns, because I feel like I’m quite a restless sleeper. Because it measures movement, it can provide some really good data on the period that you would be most unaware, that is, sleep time. As it turns out, I sleep for around 6 hours and toss and turn around 10 times a night.
Because there’s no actual GPS built into the wristband, you have to take the amount of steps, distance and calories with a grain of salt, as you can see I can swing this in the air and it increases the number of steps even though I’m sitting on the couch. But what it does do is give you a really good baseline for your daily habits, which leads to this sort of gamification of my waking life.
I’ll look at the Fitbit app once in the morning and then again in the early afternoon to see where I’m at. You can also just double tap the band to get a basic progression bar. If I feel like I haven’t walked enough steps to make the day’s quota, I’ll consciously move around more, or, like yesterday, stop putting off that run around the local streets and get out there.
While I was running, the Fitbit Flex wristband vibrated, which means that I’d completed the day’s goal, and that is a strangely satisfying moment – like finishing the next level of whatever game you’re currently into.
I actually like this idea of being able to constantly tap into this constant telemetry feed of myself, I feel like it’s comparable to the black box recorder on planes. For example, if something did happen to me, I fell ill or collapsed, medics or family could synch my Fitbit Flex to see how the last few days were for me – was I over exercising, was I having adequate sleep, were my activity levels very different to the norm – these things would normally not be able to be quantified to any accurate level, and could be passed on to a medical team.
So for me, this particular wearable works for me because it’s on me all the time and serves a practical purpose for motivation and information, doesn’t require daily charging so there’s no battery anxiety and is small and light enough that it doesn’t really register. And that’s probably the test of a good wearable, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the new generation of products coming through this year.
I’d love to hear what your thoughts are – will you going headlong into wearables this year, is there any particular one that stands out that would suit you?