Dr. Martin Grunert, PSB Academy

Dr. Martin Grunert, As­so­ciate Dean (Teach­ing & Learn­ing) and Head of School of Life & Phys­i­cal Sciences, PSB Academy

HWM (Singapore) - - CONTENTS - By Liu Hongzuo

What value do wearables cur­rently have in the aca­demic elds of health and the sport sciences?

Aca­dem­i­cally, wearables oc­cupy a niche now – it’s start­ing to en­croach onto mod­ern an­a­lyt­i­cal tech­nol­ogy. In the past, if you wanted to mea­sure some­thing as sim­ple as heartrate for an ath­lete who is per­form­ing a par­tic­u­lar task, the kind of equip­ment you need to do that was quite oner­ous. It’s a lot more af­ford­able now than it used to be; wearables are very cheap in com­par­i­son to what pro­fes­sional and an­a­lyt­i­cal equip­ment is. It also means that you can have your stu­dents ac­quire a lot more data. They can go and an­a­lyze that data and do things with it.

Are wearables ac­tu­ally benecial or are they just a mar­ket­ing gim­mick?

There are prob­a­bly de­cent help­ings of both. In terms of be­ing useful, wearables are ac­cu­rate enough th­ese days. They can tell you things about your heart rate, and soon they are able to tell you about hy­dra­tion. There are newer wearables in the mar­ket pro­jected in the next cou­ple of years that will also be able to an­a­lyze blood chem­istry for di­a­bet­ics.

On the ip side, the type of data that wearables have, in many con­texts, is too com­pli­cated for the av­er­age con­sumer to make much sense out of. Re­ally, un­less as a con­sumer you’re will­ing to learn about that and is in­ter­ested in de­vel­op­ing that knowl­edge, then there’s not much that the data could re­ally give you beyond mo­ti­va­tion and mak­ing you feel good.

Have wearables shaped the way peo­ple ap­proach tness and gen­eral health?

I think there was ac­tu­ally a study done in Sin­ga­pore where they gave a large num­ber of users Fit­bits for 12 months. They gave (the par­tic­i­pants) mone­tary re­ward or do­na­tions to a char­ity on their be­half, and they found were the av­er­age user that had a wear­able in­creased their ac­tiv­ity by about 16 min­utes a week, which doesn’t ul­ti­mately lead to tan­gi­ble im­prove­ments.

There are in­di­vid­u­als where the de­sire of us­ing a new piece of tech­nol­ogy will spur them on to ex­er­cise for a time pe­riod, but it’s like get­ting a new gym mem­ber­ship at the start of the year. If you look at Ap­ple Watch’s gim­mick, “clos­ing” the rings for some peo­ple is a strong mo­ti­va­tional as­pect to their lives, and it does change they ex­er­cise. For other peo­ple, the nov­elty wears off and the wear­able goes back onto the shelf.

Do you per­son­ally use a wear­able?

I per­son­ally do not. I use an arm­band heart rate mon­i­tor when I ex­er­cise. At this point in time, it’s some­thing where the ac­cu­racy ver­sus the out­put data ver­sus value ver­sus its cost is some­thing that’s not nec­es­sar­ily justiable. Th­ese things wear off in nov­elty quite quickly. In some cases, phones are ac­tu­ally bet­ter at track­ing - in­te­grated mo­tion sen­sors used with apps like RunKeeper or Run­tas­tic are good at track­ing data.

“It’s about try­ing to build tness into your day-to-day life­style, so you’d ac­tu­ally make a no­tice­able change to the things you do.”

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