The Death Of The Standalone Activity Tracker

Activity trackers are very much alive and kicking. From the first wearable tech company’s IPO(Fitbit) to the statistics saying one in every five Americans now own a fitness tracker, leaves us wondering whether these devices are in it for the long haul? This is a question that makes me pause and take thought. They surely have not roamed our wrists long enough to already be extinct. I think the buzz surrounding this topic is more about the first generation of basic fitness trackers rather than the entire arsenal. With technology moving at such a fast rate, the extinction of the first fitness trackers should not come as a complete surprise.

RC3 GPS Activity Tracker from Polar
RC3 GPS Activity Tracker from Polar

I do not think that many remember the first fitness tracker from Polar who have only just started adding some fashion in their trackers by collaborating with Swarovski. Did you know that the early versions of the original Fitbit (2009), were worn clipped to the waist? The design then moved to wristbands, before quickly being followed by smartbands. Now there are smart watches, which not only offer the time but also activity tracker functions. With all this being said, one could agree that when it comes to fitness trackers it is more about the devices evolving rather than extinction? I feel that offering the ability to measure the key biometrics will soon be complementary.

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As technology advances and shrinks, the demand for performance of tech per sq inch on our bodies will grow. This advancement will most likely mean that the devices that we wear will most likely require less wrist to measure the key biometrics. Or even worse(for the traditional activity trackers)move to other body parts. For companies making these trackers their only chance of survival probably lies in adding features. Jawbone understands this perfectly with their UP4 which has added payment options to their bracelet.

Jawbone UP4

With Fitbit owning the market in a sense, Teresa Wang, strategy manager at venture firm Rock Health shares (with Forbes) that “it will be very challenging for companies like Samsung to sell a successful activity tracker. There has to be some differentiation which may or may not be clinical. ” She continues, “For instance, it could be more convenient such as battery life, more fashionable like Caeden, Misfit Shine or Tory Burch for Fitbit. Or, it would have to have a different form factor (i.e., not wrist worn).”

“As Technology Advances and Shrinks, the Demand for Performance of Tech per sq Inch on our Bodies Will Grow”

There is a growing popularity of the wearable market, which will soon be introduced to minimally invasive wearables, such as patches. It are these patches that will collect the wearers physiological data instead of the wrist bands that we all currently adorn. Although developers continue to use the fashion angle to engage consumers, this is a market that has the potential to grow enormously.

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This all being said, wearable devices are still trying to establish themselves within the market, and like hungry wolves, many companies are fighting to be the top dog. Instead of mourning it’s faux death, lets instead celebrate the realisation that it is a device that is part of everyone’s daily life. As the product evolves, it has to become fashionably Bond in order to entice the consumers. It has to grow and be able to offer more than the functions that we are currently enjoying. For a device to survive the first 6 months on my body it will have to come with a lot more than just tracking biometrics, because if we were to look in any early adopter’s kitchen drawer, worldwide, I think that the picture speaks louder than words.

Mano ten Napel

Founding Managing Editor at FashNerd.com
FashionTech Consultant, Freethinking Opportunist Hero, Aspiring to Inspire. Wearobot Groupie with a Tech for Passion. Contributed to Wired.com. Founder of WearableGuru.com Founding Managing Editor FashNerd.com
Mano ten Napel