What is the difference between a fitness tracker, smart watch, and an
wearable technology? Well, that is an excellent question.
Wearable technology is basically technology that can be worn
in some fashion on the body. For example, wearable technology can be in
clothing, footwear, hats, watches, jewelry, etc. Technically speaking a smart
watch and fitness tracker can be a component of wearable tech, but
technology must be a smart watch or fitness tracker. In other words,
wearable tech is the overall category in which both smart watches and fitness
Smart watches can contain fitness tracking
components, but that is not the requirement to be a smart watch. A
smartwatch is a computerized wristwatch with functionality that is enhanced
beyond timekeeping. While early models can perform basic tasks, such as
calculations, translations, and game-playing, modern smartwatches are
effectively wearable computers. Many run mobile apps, using a mobile operating
system. Some smartwatches function as portable media players, offering
playback of FM radio, audio, and video files to the user via a Bluetooth
headset. Some models, also called 'watch phones', feature full mobile phone
capability, and can make or answer phone calls. Smart watches can measure
physical activities, heart rates, etc., but not all of them have to have these
functions. Like other computers, a smartwatch may collect information from
internal or external sensors. It may control, or retrieve data from, other
instruments or computers.
Fitness Tracker or Activity Tracker
is a device or
application for monitoring and tracking fitness-related metrics such as
distance walked or run, calories burned or consumed, heartbeat and quality of
sleep. Not all devices measure the same elements. Obviously some have
more features than others. In addition, some may be of better quality than
Most fitness trackers are dedicated electronic monitoring
devices that are synced, in many cases wirelessly, to a computer or smartphone
for long-term data tracking. This is a good example of wearable technology
using the electronic devices along with external devices to expand capabilities.
Not all fitness trackers are smart watches.
Fitness tracking can also be done
on smart phone fitness trackers.
Most smart phone fitness trackers have a rechargeable battery and graphical
display and many have a touch screen. Peripheral devices may include camera,
thermometer, accelerometer, altimeter, barometer, compass, GPS receiver, speaker
and SDcard that is recognized as a mass storage device by a computer. Software
may include Map display, scheduler, calculator, and various kinds of watch face.
The watch may communicate with external devices such as sensors, a wireless
headset, or a heads-up display. This gives smart phone fitness trackers an
advantage over the more basic fitness trackers.
The term "activity trackers" now
primarily refers to wearable devices that
monitor and record a person's fitness activity.
The concept grew out of written logs that led to spreadsheet-style computer logs
in which entries were made manually. Improvements in technology in the
late 20th and early 21st century have made it possible to automate the
monitoring and recording of fitness activities and to integrate them into more
easily worn equipment.
Wearable heart rate monitors for athletes were available in 1981.
Early examples of this technology include
wristwatch-sized bicycle computers that monitored speed, duration, distance,
etc., available at least by the early 1990s.
Electronic activity trackers are fundamentally
significantly upgraded versions of pedometers; in addition to counting steps,
they use accelerometers and altimeters to calculate mileage, graph overall
physical activity, calculate calorie expenditure, and in some cases also monitor
and graph heart rate and quality of sleep.
Early versions such as the
Fitbit (2009), were worn clipped to the
waist; formats have since diversified to include wristbands and armbands (smart
bands) and smaller devices that can be clipped wherever preferred. Apple
together developed the Nike+iPod, a sensor-equipped shoe that worked with an
Much of the appeal of activity trackers that makes them
effective tools in increasing personal fitness comes from their making it into a
game, and from the social dimension of sharing via social media and resulting
rivalry. The device can serve as a means of identification with a
community, which extends to broader participation. On some devices, family
members of friends can share data regarding their fitness activities so that
they can motivate one another for further progress. For example, if I
measured 10,000 steps today and my wife only measured 8,000 she might walk some
more just to beat my score for the day (nothing wrong with a little healthy
Fitness activity trackers are available both with and
without displays. The one without display essentially means that you would
need to login on another device to see the data collected.
Below are a few of the devices that have been on the
Basis (owned by Intel) - Basis Carbon Steel Edition
Sony - Sony SmartBand SWR10, Sony SmartBand Talk SWR30
Spire – Spire
Withings - Withings Pulse O2, Withings Pulse
Nudge: an app dashboard for activity trackers
Xiaomi: Xiaomi Mi Band
Cooey - Smart blood pressure monitor, scale and
Drive Multi-Tracking Physical Challenges monitor
Apple Watch By Apple
Moov Now By Moov
Above is only a few examples of what has been developed.
Do you have a favorite fitness tracker? Honestly, we are not sure which
one is the absolute best. New brands and developments are popping up all
the time. It is really challenging to figure out which are the best
devices. The best one from today may be replaced by a better one tomorrow.