BUSTING THE MYTHS
FITBIT TO acquire smartwatch maker Pebble.’ Fairly innocuous headline but within it lies a dark and damaging story about the lofty highs and the spiralling lows of the smartwatch and fitness band world. Misfit was sold to Fossil, Nokia bought Withings, Jawbone wants to be sold quickly, most smartwatch makers are holding off launching new devices (LG, Huawei, Motorola) and brands that were going to launch smartwatches have mostly abandoned the idea completely. Even Fitbit stock valuations have had a meltdown of epic proportions. Not the best report card for what was supposed to be the poster boy category for the wearables market.
The problem lies in expectations. People expect a lot out of fitness bands assuming that the device is a magic wand that will make you a bundle of health and beauty on its counter isn’t really counting your steps. It’s an accelerometer that is sensing all your movements, not just your feet. It then converts these movements into steps because that’s a universally understood term. Most people tend to abandon their fitness wearable as inaccurate due to some additional ghost steps reports. Stop nitpicking. The step count is extremely accurate and an additional 50 to 100 steps isn’t going to make or break your fitness goals.
Your fitness band is the poster boy of wearable devices. Here’s what you should remember when wearing one
THE HEARTBEAT MONITOR IS INACCURATE
Really? What were you expecting? A hospital level ECG in a band that thin and light? Most devices are actually quite accurate and work well for the intended purpose. If your band starts to show strange fluctuations when you start hitting peak cardio levels, then it’s not a very good one. Most good fitness wearables will give you a pretty good idea of your heart beat plus/minus five per cent. Think of it as a guideline for you to work out at a particular heartbeat band, not a medical grade monitoring home
kit on your wrist.
THE SLEEP FEATURE IS USELESS
Bands that need you to manually switch to sleep mode and then switch it off, are completely useless as you’ll never remember to do it every night! Bands that have a heart rate monitor and auto switch in and out are priceless. Even on bands that don’t have a HR sensor, the auto sleep mode is getting quite accurate. Monitoring your sleep is as important as getting a good workout. Don’t ignore this feature. Check your sleep reports for a full week by noting down your actual sleep and wake up time and comparing it against the bands. A few minutes here or there don’t matter.
MY RUN DISTANCE IS REPORTED WRONG
If it doesn’t have a GPS in it, then it’s not going to be precise. Yet again, if you input your stride length accurately into your app, your fitness band will do a surprisingly good job of telling you how much you walked or ran. It’s not important whether you ran 2.8 km or 3.2 km, what’s important is that you did run about 3 km, ran it five days a week and have a device on your wrist that inspires you to do it.
Lastly, all of them need to dispense better knowledge about what their devices are really capable of and how to get the best use out of them. Else, the fitness band industry may find itself adding a lot to the garbage industry!