Fitness and health tracking gadgets are again expected be a big trend in gift-giving this year.
The Consumer Electronics Association predicts one in 10 shoppers will buy a fitness tracking device for themselves or a loved one. Last year, global sales were around $240-million and this year, consumers have well over 100 different fitness tracking devices to choose between.
Most share the same basic functions. They can track heart rate, steps stepped or miles run. Many count calories burned and sleep cycles.
Jill Duffy, senior analyst at PC Mag says a popular item this year will likely be the Basis Peek Watch.
“What’s really cool about it is, you never have to put it into sleep mode or running mode. It just automatically detects whatever it is you’re doing,” she said. “So I think this is one of the best trackers for most people, just because it automates everything. It is a decent price, it is comfortable to wear and it looks good.”
But looks aside, do these gadgets really make us healthier?
There isn’t much in terms of hard research out there yet comparing the fitness results of people with these trackers and those without. If your goal in gift giving is to get someone off the couch, you may be disappointed. One study found that within six months of purchase, one third of users had given up on the gadgets. Some academics have proven, though, that not all devices are accurate when it comes to estimating how many calories you’ve burned, so it may be worth doing a little research first on the better models.
Duffy says the next wave will be in medical devices, tracking patients while they are at home.
“Imagine this, if you have a device that reads your heart rate all the time, and it is going to a platform and that platform is on the internet and can be shared with other people, you suddenly have a way for your doctor to monitor you remotely,” she said.
And if you’re not all that interested in getting your heart rate up, there are plenty of other options for health monitoring. One being the HapiFork, a small utensil that encourages slower eating at meals by vibrating if you chow down too fast.
Or how about the Radiate workout shirt, which changes colors to show how hard you’re working out? It’s available in both short and long sleeves, hoodie versions and tank tops!
Still not satisfied? Stick around for the smart yoga mat to hit the market next summer. It monitors your limbs and helps align your poses.