Wearable technologies aren’t limited to counting our steps anymore. In a fast paced and increasingly challenging market, wearable products are estimated to double by 2021, says an IDC report [1].
But fitness bands are not alone in the race.
The new Apple Watch 3 advertisement is all about the new sense of freedom that comes with
  • LET Cellular Network
  • Apple Music on Watch
  • Stable Battery Life

Samsung’s new commercial “Go Beyond Fitness” also works towards broadening its appeal and relevance beyond the category’s conventional positioning around fitness bands.

Their fitness capabilities are a part of their model watch – not an over assuming part of the ship – but a part that is wrecking brands like Fitbit.

Faced with market encroachment, Fitbit is stuck. Its new flagship device Ionic is smarter and has way more features compared to its predecessor Blaze. Fitbit’s latest watch is offering

  •  Built in GPS
  • Music Playback
  • Water-resistant to 50 meters

Should Fitbit Take Apple As Its Competitor?

That’s the last thing it should think of!

Apple is not a fitness band maker, but it is at its best when it comes to smartwatches.

Declining sales of Fitbit has raised many questions on the wearable companies involved in developing fitness bands. With an accelerometer and a heart rate sensor at the wrist, anyone can count the number of steps you have walked and heart rate values.

Displaying numbers for heart rate and sleeping hours is not adding much value to user’s satisfaction [2]. One-third of wearable device owners stopped using them within six months after purchase due to limited functionalities [3].

No doubt that attaining high accuracy for heart rate calculation at wrist for different skin types is a challenging task. It is important to keep in mind though that the key to long term success is to design a strategy to ensure sustained engagement.

Designing Wearable Beyond Heart Rate

Heart rate is an important body measure, without a doubt.

But like most statistics, one can’t mindlessly read it. Heart rates  vary in accordance with the body’s physical needs. Most of us our heart rates are in the range of 60 -100 bpm in resting condition. But does that necessarily mean we are healthy?

What does it mean to have a resting heart rate 80?

People whose resting heart rate is above 85 beats per minute compared to people with below 70 beats per minute are 90% more likely to face a cardiovascular condition [4].

Can we predict the unhealthy condition by observing heart rate pattern of a user?

Possibilities With Fitness Trackers

Our body communicates through signs and symptoms. Heart rate is one such biomarker that reflects health condition of an individual.

The green or red light used in these wearables is a photoplethysmogram (PPG) sensor which measures blood oxygen level that varies according to our cardiac output. The PPG signal measured from this optical sensor is a information-rich biomedical signal which is capable of measuring various physiological parameters.

The PPG signal can be used for continuous beat-to-beat heart rate measurement that is an input for calculating heart rate variability (HRV) parameters. By measuring HRV parameters we can understand body stress levels, body’s flight-or-fight response.

Our heart dissipates energy to overcome external environmental changes. Measuring HRV parameters like Total Energy, the ratio of High Frequency and Low Frequency content will help us to identify why a person gets exhausted faster than others, having done similar physical work.

Once the problem is identified, a more profound solution can be provided to help our heart perform better.

Other Biomedical Parameters That Can Be Measured From PPG Signal

Blood Pressure

When our heart beats, it squeezes and pushes blood through our arteries to the rest of our body. If our blood pressure is high, it is putting extra strain on our arteries and heart, which increases the risk of future health problems.

Pulse wave velocity

Each time our heart beats it induces a wave along the aorta and arterial tree. Pulse wave velocity (PWV) is an index of arterial stiffness. Accelerated arterial aging is a risk factor for adverse cardiovascular outcomes.

Stress Level

When we are distressed or afraid, the autonomic nervous system activates the fight-or-flight response, which reduces the variability in the interval between heartbeats measured using HRV parameters

Future Of Fitness Tracking Devices Is Exciting

There are wearable companies that have already made headway into such explorations.

Withings Health Institute is developing bathroom scales that tells you your weight, fat content, water content, bone mass, muscle mass, heart rate, and pulse wave velocity.

CardiacSense Ltd. has developed a clinically proven medical wearable device for monitoring heart arrhythmia. Its sensor monitors real-time vitals and heart-related parameters, such as heart-rate variability and blood pressure.

K’Watch Glucose is wearable tracker that measures your glucose levels without the need for blood-based tests.

Future of fitness trackers is exciting. Soon, they will change the way we monitor our health and fitness forever.

Edited by: Sukanya Mukherjee, Anupam D Arya
Aayush Maloo

Author Aayush Maloo

More posts by Aayush Maloo

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