Think back to 2010 – what did fitness wearables look like just seven years ago? The pedometers or step counters that were available tended to be large, clunky, and rudimentary at best. People wanting to keep track of their fitness levels would clip a plastic monitor onto their belts or bra straps, and hope for accurate readouts.
My, how things have changed!
In just a few short years, we have seen huge strides in fitness tracking technology. A device worn on the wrist can now come with us for a swim, record different types of exercises, report on our resting heart rates, and sync all of this information seamlessly with our smartphones. Given how far we’ve come in a relatively short amount of time, we can’t help but look to the future and wonder what’s coming down the line.
There are some really fascinating projects in the works right now, and some of them promise incredible new features.
We’ve already made the jump from belt clips to wristwatches, a decided improvement, but it looks like we may be able to do better. Google Glass, the wearable technology that provides users with a continual heads-up display, is a good place to start. And while the fitness tracking applications for a product like Google Glass are promising, Google has already gone beyond glasses, and there are rumors that it is developing smart contact lenses.
A research group out of China is currently talking about a smart necklace that will not only track your activity and heart rate (chest strap heart monitors have always been more accurate than wrist heart monitors), but may also have the capability of tracking the food you eat. Details are still a bit vague at this point, but we will be keeping an eye on how this develops.
For people with a weight loss goal, how about a smart belt? A Samsung start-up is looking into the possibility of creating a fitness tracking belt that can also precisely monitor your waist measurements.
In other words, if you’re tired of banging your Fitbit against the edge of your laptop, there may be some very cool alternatives coming soon.
Blood Sugar Monitoring
Diabetics have thankfully seen some much-needed improvements in blood sugar monitoring over the past 10 years. All-in-one machines that can test blood in less sensitive areas like the forearm have replaced painful lancets and finger sticking sessions. Of course, blood sugar testing only works if you actually do it, and a wearable fitness device may be the answer for those who are reluctant or forgetful when it comes to testing blood glucose levels.
The smart contact lenses mentioned earlier that are being developed by Google may even have a capability for monitoring blood glucose via the eyes. Indeed, many companies are aware of the need for less invasive and more accurate blood glucose testing methods, so don’t be surprised if these begin to show up in fitness trackers a few short years from now.
Stress Level Indicator
As it stands right now, there are plenty of apps and websites available that allow you to manually input your stress and energy levels, and can walk you through breathing exercises or guided meditation. Because mental health is every bit as important as physical health, these are important innovations and we definitely want to see more fitness trackers catching onto them in the near future.
Right now, some devices such as the Fitbit Charge 2 can vibrate at regular intervals to remind you to breathe deeply, and hopefully blow off a little stress. This is a very good start, but clearly there is room for improvement. By monitoring a combination of heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing patterns, fitness trackers in the near future should be able to alert us when our stress levels are getting out of hand.
Real Calorie Counting
Right now, there are dozens of apps to choose from that will helpfully and dutifully add up your daily calories. However, they all share one major flaw: they’re all subject to human error.
Whether a person genuinely forgets to log a snack, or conveniently fails to mention the slice of chocolate cake they had in the middle of the night, the end result is the same – the calorie count is not accurate.
It has often been speculated (and very much hoped) that in the near future wearable fitness trackers will incorporate a reliable way to track calorie intake, and indeed many companies have expressed their desire to provide this facility. How would they do this? That’s still somewhat up in the air. The best guesses for now involve a combination of blood glucose and body temperature monitoring, and even some crazier ideas like listening to your chewing and digestive noises. Yikes! Hopefully the top minds in the business will figure out a more elegant solution.
As more companies begin looking for new and innovative ways to branch out, we’re sure we will begin seeing some impressive new advancements. Much like we couldn’t have pictured a modern fitness tracker a decade ago, the fitness trackers of the future are sure to be amazing.
What would you like to see in a fitness tracker and which features would help you meet your own personal health and fitness goals?