Sports wearables require a greater focus on improvement advice

(Image Credit: iStockPhoto/Jacob Ammentorp Lund)

When most people think of wearables, fitness trackers such as Fitbit come to mind. Whilst these devices are great for tracking your current performance to compare it to your past, they often don't offer advice on how to improve your ability in a chosen sport. 

New research from Lux has signaled the need for sports wearables that go beyond tracking and provide direct advice to help users excel in their activities. "Most wearables today do a great job of reporting factual information but fail to educate consumers on how to modify their behavior to achieve their health and performance goals," said Noa Ghersin, Lux Research Associate. 

For their research, Lux focused on several existing wearables and how they could improve. Wearables featured included HealthBox, Xmetrics, and Vert. For each device, Lux found: 

  • HealthBox needs more instructive tips. Under Armour's HealthBox includes a heart rate strap, band, and scale. It has the potential to replace a personal trainer or coach but for that to happen, HealthBox needs to deliver more instructive insights than simple biometric comparisons by age, gender, and weight. 

  • Xmetrics' value lies in real-time feedback. Xmetrics uses three sensors to yield data on a swimmer's breathing pattern, stroke efficiency, time and number of laps, among other metrics. Its biggest value proposition is real-time feedback, but to be more than an intelligent timer, it needs to better educate its users on the meaning and importance of the metrics it reports. 

  • Vert's value proposition is injury prevention. Vert is a wearable clip that allows users to view data on an athlete's jumps. Mary Wise, head coach of Florida's women's volleyball team, uses Vert primarily to prevent injuries, but it too could benefit by providing alerts or recommendations to users on how to avoid injuries. 

One device we reviewed in the past couple of weeks, the Moov Now, we praised for its coaching abilities in a range of different activities. The wearable can attach to various positions on your body to keep a track of things like cadence, stride, and form to engage with the user through headphones on how to improve. 

"The 2016 Rio Olympics have highlighted how wearables can provide technique tracking, not just fitness monitoring," Ghersin added. "However, other major applications for sports wearables -- like team strategy and safety -- deserve more attention, too." 

Lux's report, titled "From Tracking to Intelligence: Uncovering the Unmet Needs of Today's Athlete," is part of their Wearable Electronics Intelligence service. 

Do you think sports wearables need to offer more in terms of advice? Let us know in the comments.

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