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Wearable Tech - Is it Worth It?

Wearable Tech - Is it Worth It?

Wearables are everywhere in consumer technology right now. Whoop, Oura, Apple Watch, Fitbit and Garmin just to name a few brands.

You’ve likely seen a bunch of these products advertised, perhaps even considered investing your hard earned cash.

But do they help? Are they worth your money?

Perhaps… let’s start by understanding exactly what they do and are trying to achieve.

A wearable is usually a hardware device (watch, ring, wristband, etc) that links to an app-based interface, providing you with a selection of data metrics that the device can track.

That data might be steps, heart rate, distance ran, calories burned, sleep duration, etc

Are they accurate? Sort of…

While certain metrics like heart rate, steps and sleep duration have been shown to be reliable (80+% accuracy), sleep stages, activity states and calories consumed are much harder to measure(1,2). Some brands are also more accurate than others(1,2).

But this doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. What’s more important than accuracy is consistency, even if that's consistent inaccuracy.

Consistent data allows you to track your performance and make adjustments.

Ok, so how might this look in the real world?

Take for example, you decide to start walking more, your step counter is going to show this and go up regardless, even if it’s only 80% accurate.

With a sleep tracker, you might notice that you usually sleep for 7 hours, but after 2 or more glasses of wine your sleep is significantly disrupted, and you only got 5.

This gives you a powerful, data centric feedback loop. You will have proof of the impacts that specific changes have made to your life.

That said, you would be correct to think that you don’t need any of this tech to make changes in your life. You don’t need a wearable to be sure that you’re walking more or sleeping better.

But one thing I’d ask you to consider: how do you know for certain that you’re improving over time?

This is important: what gets measured gets managed. Tracking metrics is an extremely useful tool to see what inputs are helping you progress, and what might be hindering you.

Therefore, I think wearable tech can be beneficial. It makes tracking consistent, easy, and low effort. Even spotting my sleep tracker on my finger throughout the day reminds me to focus on getting to bed earlier.

Ultimately, as usual, it still requires ACTION to get tangible results. So, if you’re considering purchasing wearable tech, do your research. Know your brands, what you’re looking to use it for and if it will be worth the investment.

References

Fuller, D., Colwell, E., Low, J., Orychock, K., Tobin, M., Simango, B., Buote, R., Van Heerden, D., Luan, H., Cullen, K., Slade, L. and Taylor, N., 2020. Reliability and Validity of Commercially Available Wearable Devices for Measuring Steps, Energy Expenditure, and Heart Rate: Systematic Review. JMIR mHealth and uHealth, 8(9), p.e18694.

Xie, J., Wen, D., Liang, L., Jia, Y., Gao, L. and Lei, J., 2018. Evaluating the Validity of Current Mainstream Wearable Devices in Fitness Tracking Under Various Physical Activities: Comparative Study. JMIR mHealth and uHealth, 6(4), p.e94.

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