Fitness Devices Cut the Cord
When telephones first made their way into cars, they did so on the end of a cord. Today, we can control not only our phones, but many other in-vehicle systems with just our voices. The trend toward wireless connectivity is similar in many different markets that are adopting connected devices, including home entertainment, health, and fitness.
Just this summer, we’ve seen new fitness solutions come to market from companies like Nike, www.nike.com, which feature Bluetooth-enabled sensors for tracking and transmitting data to mobile devices. In fact, wireless protocols such as Bluetooth and ZigBee are expected to help the market for connected devices in sports and fitness reach new heights. ABI Research, www.abiresearch.com, even suggests more than 1.5 billion devices enabled by these two protocols will ship in 2016.
While many well-known companies in the fitness-device realm offer some sort of wireless-upload capability—such as Garmin’s line of Forerunner fitness watches, several of which use ANT+ wireless technology to upload data to a PC—many devices on the market are held back by their reliance on a USB cord to upload data.
In today’s connected world, consumers are looking for ways to simplify their lives. Connected devices that offer seamless data gathering and transferring can provide this simplification. Product manufacturers in realms such as health and fitness should consider the ROI (return on investment) it could obtain by embedding a wireless technology such as Bluetooth or ANT+ into its next device.
One company, Fitbug, www.fitbug.com, exemplifies this trend toward wireless by releasing a next-generation version of its product offering that will be enabled by Bluetooth connectivity. The new device, Fitbug Air, is a connected activity tracker designed to help consumers reach their personal health and wellness goals.
Fitbug Air records daily activity, such as steps taken, distance covered, and calories burned, using a three-axis accelerometer. Unlike its predecessor, Fitbug Go, which requires a physical connection to transfer data to a person’s computer, Fitbug Air uses Bluetooth to wirelessly send this data to users’ mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets.
There will be three methods of wireless upload: on-demand syncing via the press of a button; a set schedule whereby the device syncs at regular intervals during the day; and “stream” mode, in which the device syncs to a smartphone or other device in realtime. No matter which option you choose, once synced to a mobile device, you can track progress toward goals and receive motivational feedback and support from Fitbug.com.
As the holiday season approaches, we can expect a good number of connected devices to come to market that target consumers. Perhaps one of the most gift-worthy categories this year will be health and fitness, especially thanks to companies bringing new wireless options at affordable pricepoints to market. As society’s expectations for connected devices continue to evolve and sophisticate, functionalities that may not have seemed important before—such as requiring a USB cord to upload data—will be a differentiating factor in the months and years to come.