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How wearable tech is used, survey shows top metrics tracked

Smartwatches and fitness trackers have become popular purchase items in recent years. But have you ever wondered what health metrics people track most? A recent survey attempts to answer this question.

It can be found in Deloitte’s “Connectivity & mobile Trends 2021“. This is the second edition of the report. The survey was conducted in March 2021 amogst 2,009 US consumers. The data was then weighted as per the latest US census to extrapolate the responses to the entire population.

Of most interest to us was use of wearables. Unsurprisingly, the survey shows that steps per day were the most popular metric tracked. Some 59% of respondents identified this as what they measure most.

Steps were followed by workouts/athletic performance 42%, heart health 37%, sleep quality and duration 35% and calories 32%. Studies have shown that the last on this list is typically not very accurate. And it shows as most respondents d0n’t bother to check their calories burned.

Essential reading: Best fitness trackers and health gadgets

Stress was also on this list at 17%. More and more fitness devices are able to track how chilled you are but the metric is still yet to hit mainstream.

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Using wearables to monitor for COVID-19

Other data shows that just 8% of users monitor chronic health conditions with smartwatches and fitness trackers. Interestingly, this was outperformed by the number that use wearables to monitor for possible COVID-19 symptoms (11%).

As reported originally by the New York Times, (via 9to5mac) a study published yesterday in the journal JAMA Network Open says it is possible to do this. People are using fitness devices such as the Apple Watch, Garmin and Fitbit to follow effects of COVID-19.

The actual data in the study comes from Digital Engagement and Tracking for Early Control and Treatment (DETECT) report. This was a trial run between March 25, 2020 to January 24 2021 by researchers at the Scripps Research Translational Institute in California.

The report shows that by combining data from wearables with self-reported symptoms one can more accurately detect the onset of COVID that purely by focusing on symptoms. A decrease in step count, rise in resting heart rate and fall in blood oxygen saturations can all point to the possible onset of COVID.

Smartphones are increasingly being used to monitor health

Smartphones can be used to monitor health and fitness, too. This has seen a 50% increase during the pandemic, and two-thirds of respondents say they will continue to use their device for this purpose after the pandemic.

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Nevertheless, wearables are here to stay. The Deloitte survey shows that 18% of respondents used a wearable more often during the pandemic, 21% less often, and the remaining 46% about the same.

About 4 in 10 without a fitness tracker or smartwatch reported the cost of the wearable as the main limiting factor as to why they don’t use it. But since the start of COVID, 27% are interested in buying such a device, up 3% on the pre-pandemic period.

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