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Mobile World Congress: Are Wearables More Fragile Than Fun?

Mobile health apps and wearables on display at MWC are cool and beneficial, but privacy issues lie in wait.

FitBit Flex activity tracker.
FitBit Flex activity tracker.

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User Rank: Strategist
2/25/2014 | 6:40:51 PM
Re: Wearable rewards
Excellent point WKash - as with any of these devices I belive success depends on the ability to connect (via apps) to other elements that constitute to a fitness regime. Although not a wearble, Withings with their smart scales have achieved great success using this strategy -- not just because the device is cool, but because it's connected. I'm sure over time we'll see fitness trackers become more connected via apps and API's to many other devices. 
Marilyn Cohodas
Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Author
2/25/2014 | 11:54:29 AM
Moore's Law + 3D printing = cheap wearables
Does anyone think that wearables will need to be supercheap and disposble for them to really take off? I don't think that's all that far-fetched or distant given Moore's Law combined with 3D printing.
Shane M. O'Neill
Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
2/25/2014 | 10:42:03 AM
Re: Wearable rewards
As wearables become more feature-rich I think they will sail by mobile apps, at least for exercise. A phone is a cumbersome thing to have with you when you're running or biking. Swimming is definitely out of the question for obvious reasons. When running on a warm day, where can you put your phone? It will jiggle around in your pocket and possibly fall out. You could strap it on your arm but who needs the baggage. You can wear a wristband tracker anywhere and not even notice it. I use the Nike+ app on my iPod Nano to track time, pace, distance and calories on my runs and it works well (though it eats up battery). I'm holding out for wristbands to get more sophisticated, but they're very appealing to frequent exercisers.
IW Pick
User Rank: Ninja
2/25/2014 | 6:22:30 AM
Re: Fragile or fun?
I'd agree, especially when for several years the trend has been to add features to smartphones that replace multiple gadgets, rather than branching out into new hardware. Many fitness apps can track paces taken, distance run, time taken, speed and a variety of other factors already. 

To get the general public to really buy into wearables - especially the fitness ones - developers will need to find a way to sell them over their app counterparts. Likewise they'll need to make sure encryption and security are top noth, as one nasty story of people stealing what is essentially medical info from someone's unsecured wrist band, could do a real blow to the industry. 
User Rank: Author
2/24/2014 | 8:21:01 PM
Wearable rewards
The battle for wearable fitness products will likely depend on which data tracking systems consumers are already wedded to. If I'm already keeping track of my exercise regimen and food intake on one of two mobile apps I use regularly  (MyFitnessPal and Fooducate), I'll probably be hesitant to buy a wearable fitness item unless it works with those tracking systms -- or offers a superior experience.

User Rank: Ninja
2/24/2014 | 8:07:11 PM
Re: Fragile or fun?
I'm waiting for these activity trackers to become more feature-rich. They really cannot do whole lot other than pay attention to how much someone walks. 

These should be able to do a whole lot more than that in the future. But right now, they don't do a whole lot other than counting steps and paying attention to when you lie down. 
Kristin Burnham
Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
2/24/2014 | 4:52:52 PM
Fragile or fun?
In the tech and security communities, we're generally well aware of the potential dangers that these types of devices could pose. But most people I know fit into two categories: They are either blissfully unaware of security and privacy issues, or they're so hypersensitive to them that they swear off all new technology. Both groups, I think, could learn a lot from each other.
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