Fitness driving growth in wearable tech

 In Medical Product Design

Wearable devices are innovative products that let users access important real-time data, particularly related to their health. A recent report from PricewaterhouseCoopers shows that wearable device usage has doubled since 2014. Personal fitness is the primary driver for this trend. 

Defining wearable tech
The PwC study included the following devices as "wearables":

  • Fitness bands such as Fitbits or Jawbones.
  • Smart watches like the Apple Watch or Samsung Gear.
  • Smart video and photo devices such as the GoPro.
  • Smart glasses like Google Glass. 
  • Smart clothing like Althos and Ralph Lauren PoloTech. 

Researchers surveyed 1,000 U.S. consumers and 500 from Australia, Mexico, Singapore and England on their use and understanding of wearable technologies.

"Users are confident these devices will help them achieve their fitness goals."

Health as a motivator
While wearable devices are not exclusively for health and fitness, the survey found that health was the primary motivation for most consumers who purchased them. Consumers find that these tools help to motivate them, and provide instant feedback towards their fitness goals. The study also showed that users are confident these devices will help them to achieve their fitness goals. Seventy percent of wearable device owners expect to live 10 years longer thanks to this technology. 62 percent are confident that their health care premiums will be reduced, and 64 percent believe the number of obesity-related health problems will be lower thanks to these devices. 

When deciding on a wearable device, money was found to be the primary factor. Users want wearable tech that's affordable. The least common factor was fashion, as consumers view these devices more as tools than fashion accessories. 

Long-term potential
Currently, smart glasses owners showed the lowest rate of attrition, while smart clothing had the worst. However, there is reason to believe that smart clothing use will continue to grow in popularity. Nationally known brands like Ralph Lauren, Under Armour and Gatorade are getting into the smart clothing space, because they see the value of personal fitness data. 

Fitness wear has the greatest potential for long-term use, according to Ben Arnold, and analyst at NPD Group. He told Forbes that while consumers may give up tools like ab crunchers or weights, wearable tech, particularly smart clothing, is less likely to be tossed aside because consumers always have to wear something. It might as well be clothing that will track your fitness data. 

Today's consumers are interested in tracking their own health data. Leveraging this information allows them to make better lifestyle and fitness choices. Wearable devices are great examples of how consumer health product design can help create tools that are easy to use and provide valuable health data. 

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