The market for fitness trackers, and especially smartwatches is on the rise. Despite the delivery difficulties due to the coronavirus, the market kept on growing and the leading players (Apple, Samsung, Huawei and Garmin) have kept their lead, securing a steady 75% of the entire segment. Globally, in 2022, the revenue generated worldwide in the smartwatch market was approximately 38.6 billion US dollars.
We wrote earlier about how COVID-19 affected our way of doing sports. From quarantine exercises, dance rehearsals to online yoga and even mass events and online marathons (heard about the IRONMAN virtual races?) – the list is endless. And as we were all cut off from our favourite spaces and moves, we had the chance to find new ones; or at least new ways of doing our favourite exercise. But it wasn’t just what we did. It was what we used to keep track of our progress. Our smartwatches and health trackers. So it’s just obvious to talk about what type of tracker we should be buying.
My 7+1 recommendations
I believe there is the right tracker for everyone. But before you buy one off the shelf, you should do your homework and find out which one was made for you – based on your own expectations, needs, preferences and so on.
I’m not going to start comparing devices: such lists are being made every day. Furthermore, such a list would soon become obsolete due to rapid changes in the market. I have tried and tested over a hundred such devices, from smart sleep trackers through ECG watches to an AI ultrasound. To sum it up, what I can do is help you choose the right one, based on my widespread experience.
1. Regulatory approval
It is quite important to check if the device has regulatory approval. Smart devices and trackers need to go through a number of safety and quality tests. To prove that they have done these rounds, they receive regulatory approval that is proven by an institution; like an FDA approval or a CE-mark. Depending on where they applied for the test, FDA is the US-based process; CE-mark is standard in Europe; and, obviously, each region has its own processes and abbreviations. If they do own such an approval, companies usually communicate this fact loudly on their websites/channels.
2. Customer support
How a company solves issues of customers is the next step of evaluation. It shows how a company really treats its consumers and covers any kind of technical, installation or maintenance support. It is always worth checking the reviews online (like on Amazon or other sites) or in the AppStore/GooglePlay. Here you can also see how the developers react to the complaints.
I came across smartwatches that could repel mosquitoes while measuring ECG; give you electric shocks when you engage in a bad habit; measure everything or forecast earthquakes. Believe me: the more they promise the less they are likely to deliver.
Trust your gut: if a watch or a device promises to measure too many health parameters, beware. It might promise too much. It would be fantastic, but unlikely that a small garage company will find the Holy Grail of health trackers. Expect something like that from major players (buying small garage bands to use their discoveries).
Check out the online communication output of the company. You can get a clear picture of the developers by looking at their social channels. How active they are, how they talk to consumers, what they feel is important to share say a lot. Transparency and honesty are the keywords to look for.
5. Technical strengths
Okay, so this is definitely something we always check in our reviews – and you should do so, too. Strong battery life and a smooth Bluetooth connection are key to my gadget-happiness. I personally would never buy a device I’d need to charge every day. Before even considering getting a tracker (or any device in fact) I check out these features in reviews on Verge or TechRadar.
6. Health features vs. Evidence
To see whether health features are supported by evidence you should do some research. Check out how, for example, Withings shares who they collaborated with while developing the features of their devices. Medical and scientific results and studies are not easy to comprehend for the average user; however, companies usually do a good job interpreting these findings and results. Use your logic and spend a bit of time here to save you time on the other end.
7. Download raw data
I want to download my raw data as I collect and use them a lot. Not all devices support this feature, and big companies like Fitbit usually prefer not to share if you can download your own data. It is definitely my own preference, decide for yourself if it’s something you’d do or not.
+1: Smartphone connection
Take 5 minutes to see if the device is compatible with your phone. You’ll thank yourself later.
These steps will certainly help you find the right device for you. If it is a smartwatch or any health tracker, it will also be dependent on the platform you use (iOs or Android) and, of course, your budget. But please also consider that lesser-known brands also tend to give less information for example on their use of your data.
So please also consider the privacy issues that come with any device you store your health (or any kind of) data on. As there definitely is a dark side of health trackers, bear in mind how you set up your device and which companies you trust with your data.
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The post What To Check Before Buying A Smartwatch Or Health Tracker appeared first on The Medical Futurist.