I was stirred by an article in Wired recently, which I analysed in my article is your fitness tracker making you fatter. Fitness trackers have had a good gig of it in 2013, with big prominent manufacturers modifying technology from heart rate monitors in order to deliver everyday wearable fitness tech. However, as Wired pointed out, and as I acknowledge, fitness trackers have not realised their immense potential yet. I wanted to touch on that potential in order to paint a picture of tomorrow’s fitness trackers.
So as of May 2013, the main criticism is that activity trackers are great at providing data but they fall down when it comes to actually helping you to use it in order to get fitter. Considering the tech available in certain GPS watches, not to mention what cloud enabled devices have the potential to deliver in real time, it’s fair to say that this will change quickly.
Modifying existing technology to take the next step
Polar sports watches are the pace setters in the fitness technology market, and their watches are adaptive and responsive, and thus they unequivocally can make you fitter. They let you set up individualised training plans and are smart enough to figure out where you are, create a workout, and adapt to your exercise habits.
This is an example of existing functionality which hasn’t really trickled down to lifestyle-oriented devices. At the moment, the pinnacle of devices like the Jawbone UP is to buzz when you’re not moving enough.
Using the cloud
Activity trackers are connected devices which use the cloud to store your data and to ‘talk’ between the activity tracker and the app. They therefore have a wealth of untapped information that they could utilise, including training programmes and ‘smart’ exercise equipment. Life Fitness make some great gym kit which is cloud enabled, which they use to send workout stats to their exercise tracking service. In a connected World, it is important that the latest fitness technology works symbiotically and not individually in order to really enable people to see the full potential.
Tomorrow’s fitness tracker
The fitness tracker will be smaller and lighter, with full waterproofing as standard. It will therefore work effectively across all main activities, including swimming
The device will be convenient and easier to wear. It won’t necessarily be a wristband, and could actually look more like a 1990’s pedometer.
It will track movement, heart rate, and location. Location offers up endless possibilities, including the ability to analyse which shops, bars, pubs and restaurants you frequent. This is all data which would be great to add in to any true lifestyle tracker.
The fitness tracker will let you manually input calories. This could be made easier by recognising major chains that you have entered, such as Starbucks and Wetherspoons.
The collated data will sync with your smartphone in real time, forming an ever evolving fitness plan which evolves during the day depending on your activity.
The fitness tracker will give real World advice which is actually useful, rather than just buzzing to get you moving.
It will give you training advise, such as “go for a 40 minute run rather than a 60 minute run – you have already walked 3.2 miles today and have already burned 154 calories”
It will give you on the go diet advice. It will knows what training you have done, so could recommend that you should consume more protein today because you completed a 48 minute weights session this morning.
It will help you hit your bodyweight goals. It will know what your activity has been like this week, as well as what you have eaten. It therefore (roughly) knows your thermo-balance, enabling it to make recommendations about food and quantities.Is the below a quote from tomorrows fitness tracker?
“You had a large lunch today in the Red Lion pub. Consume 500 calories or less for dinner in order to hit your bodyweight goal of 65.5KG in the next three days”
It will know when you have been burning the candle at both ends, and will be able to analyse the effects that this is having on your fitness, including your heart rate.
It will communicate with your bathroom scales through the cloud, syncing all fot he data and helping you reach your targets.
It will provide real life feedback on your weekly activity, tracked over time. It will tie this in with body metrics, like your weight and your exercise performance (heart rate over time completing the same exercise regime)
So there you have a vision of a fitness technology future. In one way, shape or form, the raw materials are there and ready to go. Now, which brand is going to make it for us?