The State of Fitness Wearables in 2017
As the weather begins to warm and the snow covering New England gives way to slush and puddles, it’s clear that the spring of 2017 is upon us. As a Boston native, I’ll trade my snow boots in for sneakers and take advantage of sunny streets and sidewalks. My fellow Bostonian’s and I will start prepping for beach season by putting fitness at the forefront of daily activities, and in today’s hyper connected world, we’ll want to track our steps, our heartrate, our calories, and just how many miles we’ve made it. With so much technology and data at our disposal I thought I’d look at the state of wearables in the Spring of 2017.
If you’ve happened to follow the wearable fitness tracker market as closely as I have, you’d know that there is a stark contrast between the Spring of 2017 and that of even just one year ago. The independent hardware and software developers like Pebble (and their Pebble Health program) have all but shutdown, as their assets, and much of their staff, have been acquired by wearable fitness tracking leader Fitbit.
Other industry leaders like Motorola have stayed quiet on their future wearable plans, their Moto 360 and it’s water-resistant, fitness focused counterpart the Moto 360 Sport, are no longer for sale and have essentially been discontinued.
The Apple Watch 2
So who’s left? Unsurprisingly the two leaders in the health-focused wearables space are Apple and Fitbit. Apple’s incremental update, the Apple Watch 2 starts at $399 and tracks steps, distance, workouts, and heart-rate. Fitbit has a much more robust product line and the barrier to entry, at least for a simple belt-clip pedometer, the Fitbit Zip is only $60. Fitbit’s head to head competitor to the Apple Watch, the Fitbit Surge starts at a reasonable $249 tracking all the same data as Apple, but includes a much more robust sleep tracker.
Fitbit’s Blaze Fitness Tracker
A word of warning: The Health Halo Effect
The very act of wearing a Fitbit or Apple Watch can feel like an accomplishment, it’s a great first step to keeping a diligent tally of one’s fitness regimen, but it’s important not to rest on the laurels of the technology. The health halo effect applies to food and drink, supplements, workouts, and technology products that illicit a perception of “healthiness” from the user and wearables, it seems are no different. It’s vital that the user remains motivated, stays accountable to their goals, and most importantly, just gets moving.
For many users being able to track distances, target heart rate, calories consumed, and sleep quality is an invaluable facet of their healthy lifestyle regimen. But much like the dusty treadmill in the basement, a fitness tracker isn’t a cure-all, it only showcases it’s benefits if the user is diligent about using it.
Putting Wearables to The Test
So, is there any way to ensure that the technology on your wrist is more fitness wearable than watch? Quantifying one’s health habits, gamifying your fitness goals, even getting competitive with friends or colleagues are great motivators. I’ll be putting these motivators to the test in short order. JPA Health Communications is kicking off our ninth annual Step Challenge, a month-long contest in which members of our agency are broken into groups of a dozen or so team members, everyone is provided a Fitbit and the step tracking begins with one goal in mind: 10 million steps. In years past, the challenge has certainly stirred an uptick in physical activity, inspired meetings to happen on the move as opposed to in a conference room, and helped team members to encourage each other to keep moving. Will my fellow Bostonian’s and I be crowned as the Step Challenge champions? Only time (and Fitbit) will tell.
Nic DiBella is an Account Director at JPA Health Communications