Investing in Wearable’s for 2015

Activity trackers and wearable’s devices are the talk of town and was on display in in full force at this year’s CES show in Las Vegas. At Rapid Healthcare Inc our focus is on delivering clinical healthcare mobility solutions, we have been looking into how wearable’s can integrate and provide valuable health related data back to individuals and their caregivers through our apps. We have been dissecting recent reports and studies to determine the right approach, here is what we have learned so far.

Business Insider

released a report on the state of the wearable market for 2015, it claims that the global wearable’s market will grow at a compound annual rate of 35% over the next five years, reaching 148 million units shipped annually in 2019, up from 33 million units shipped this year. The whole field of personal fitness and health apps will boom as the hardware matures and adds

more advanced sensors come to market. Dieting apps, workout apps, and medical apps will become key areas for growth.

There was also a recent study from the American Council on Exercise (ACE), which looked at five popular consumer activity trackers and evaluated them for accuracy. The study found that these five devices all tracked steps relatively accurately, but many were less accurate when it comes to tracking caloric expenditure, especially during activities beyond walking or running.

Here are some details from the study by ACE, five popular activity trackers were chosen: Nike+ Fuelband, Fitbit Ultra, Jawbone UP, BodyMedia FitCore and the Adidas MiCoach.

Researchers then recruited 10 healthy men and 10 healthy women, ages 18 to 44, to participate in the study, which was divided into two parts: one to measure energy expenditure and the other to measure the number of steps taken. The protocol was the same for both studies and they were conducted concurrently.

Along with wearing the activity trackers, subjects wore a portable metabolic analyzer and the NL-2000i pedometer, which has proven reliability, to make an accurate determination of calories burned and steps taken. Each subject performed a series of different exercises wearing all of these devices at the same time; the testing was conducted in two separate 50-minute sessions.

When participants were walking, running, or using the elliptical, all five devices recorded step counts within 10 percent accuracy as compared to the research-grade pedometer. Many of them underestimated steps during the agility drills, though, owing to “the variety of more complex movements” according to researchers. Jawbone UP was the most accurate across the four categories.
For energy expenditure though, all the devices exhibited significant differences from the metabolic analyzer on at least one exercise. Some over-calculated expenditure while others under-calculated it. Fitbit and Nike were the closest to accurate for walking, Fitbit for running, Jawbone for the elliptical, while none got particularly close on the agility exercises.

We were really impressed by Jawbone’s new UP3 bracelet which uses an accelerometer, a component that detects movement, and two other chips that aren’t commonly used in most wearable devices. One chip is capable of detecting both the temperature of your environment and your skin, so that the band can tell whether your body heat is high because of your surroundings or because you might be getting sick.

The other chip allows for more accurate heart rate monitoring capabilities without draining the band’s battery. Most smartwatches use an optical heart rate monitor, which shines a light through your skin to read your heart rate and usually takes a toll on your battery.

We believe that this year with wrist-worn devices Rapid Healthcare will attempt to break into the wearable app markets. We believe

smart wristwear will make up 70% of wearables shipments throughout the next five years. And further believe that the health and fitness category will likely produce the killer apps. Apple’s recently released Healthbook app offers a glimpse of an app that can combine data on fitness, physical activity, nutrition, and vital signs. The whole

field of personal fitness and health apps will boom as the hardware matures and adds more advanced sensors.

Stay tuned as we have something special that will be launching in April/May that will allow folks to have buy wearable devices at a significantly lower cost.