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How Engaging Are Wearable Fitness Trackers?

DZone's Guide to

How Engaging Are Wearable Fitness Trackers?

Let's take a look at where the science says wearable fitness trackers fall short and what you can do to improve user adoption and retention.

· IoT Zone ·
Free Resource

Activity trackers are undoubtedly popular, with an estimated 13.4 million sold in the US alone in 2015, but there remain doubts about how effective they are at making us more active. For instance, a 2015 study found little evidence that wearable devices altered activity levels a great deal, and they may even make exercise less enjoyable.

A recent study suggests the picture isn’t quite so bleak, however, with around 80% of users of fitness trackers sticking with their device for at least six months.

The paper shares some common findings with a previous study into the use of mobile apps and technologies, in that they tend to be used most by those who already have an active interest in their health and wellbeing, and much less so by people who could really benefit from a lifestyle change.

Gamifying Activity

The study found that gamification had a big part to play in the ‘stickability’ of wearable devices. This helped to ensure that roughly 80% of those who started to use such a device were still using it after six months.

Participants from a national health and wellness organization were tracked to monitor their use of activity trackers, including when they first activated it, how often they used it, and how long they used it for.

The analysis reveals that overall usage remains pretty low, especially among older people, with just 0.1% of those aged over 65 using the devices. Equally, usage declined as the household income of participants dropped, suggesting much more work is required to engage people in the use of wearable devices to support their health.

“Gamification and financial incentives are commonly used within wellness programs, but their impact has not been well studied,” they say. “Our findings provide initial evidence suggesting that these types of engagement strategies may show promise for keeping sustained use high. However, more studies are needed to determine the best way to combine these types of engagement strategies with activity trackers to improve health outcomes.”

Given the very low levels of usage across the board, however, it would perhaps seem pertinent to explore ways of increasing engagement in all people.

Topics:
iot ,wearable devices ,iot development ,gamification

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