BUST­ING THE MYTHS

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - Brunch - - INDULGE -

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!

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