Smartwatches, fitness trackers: overload in several ways

click to enlargeDedicated Quantified Selfers, who have more than one device strapped to their arm and wrist, know that when like measurements are compared from two different devices (e.g. step counts, weight, activity, blood pressure), like stock or mutual funds, their performance will vary. Sleep trackers are among the worst offenders. But newbies just ‘into’ this may be confused. Not to worry! The prescription from Dr Kvedar is: “Expecting these consumer devices to have scientific accuracy is unrealistic. Expecting them to help you keep your activity level top of mind and measured in context from day to day is realistic and in most cases helpful.” They set a tone and help motivation, with other tools such as social groups and coaching. Reassuring words, especially as Dr Kvedar has launched Wellocracy to help individuals to understand that.

There’s of course pressure from clinicians to upgrade fitness monitor readings to clinical quality so they can use it…but absolutely no clarity on exactly how they would use it, a seemingly contradictory statement which centers on the quality of analysis and what alerts would be pushed to the clinician, who memorably has his or her ‘hair on fire trying to do what they do right now.’  But it’s still going to be disruptive, according to the Australian edition of CIO.

Your Editor also believes that the manufacturers should take up part of this management of expectations as they move beyond the fitness fanatics and the early adopters. The New York Times has already lambasted fitness trackers, using the ‘clinical quality’ argument. Just wait until Consumer Reports gets on the case. Oh, the humanity! (Durable would help, Editor Charles points out, as he awaits his third Jawbone UP in a year. Wot, no backup Fitbit?) HealthWorks Collective (photo credit)

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