We are living in the age of the sensor. Not only is wearable technology reshaping fashion, it has also caused a revolution in how we exercise and stay in shape. These little bits of technology are now so affordable that they can be placed in just about everything we interact with in our lives, including our smartphones, and our jewelry and accessories, creating an ever-growing stream of data. But collecting data is only half of the equation—most people cannot do much with a spreadsheet of data points. We’re now seeing technologies that are able to use the data collected from all of these smart devices that are reshaping how we exercise and stay fit.
1. Helping us exercise smarter
Wearable technology is also beginning to specialize into very specific niches. Beyond general “activity” trackers like FitBit, there are products like the Atlas Wristband, which is built specifically to be a workout buddy for serious weight lifting and crossfitters. This tech can accurately track exercises as the user works out, and provide feedback to the user to help improve their form and avoid injury.
2. Helping us stay hydrated
It’s so simple, but one of the hardest things for people to remember to do that can have a huge impact on staying fit is drinking enough water. There is now a class of “Smart Cups” that connect to smartphones. They help users track their liquid intake, and remind the users the optimal times to get a drink to reach optimal hydration throughout the day.
3. Helping us get motivated
With all of this data available, some researchers and developers are creating new ways to stay motivated in the form of interactive games. One great example of this trend is the smartphone app “Zombies, Run!” which places the player at the center of a Zombie apocalypse. By tracking the route run with GPS data, players collect supplies to help build up their defenses against the zombies, while being chased by zombies in the app. Being chased by zombies is definitely one way to be motivated to move it!
Turning fitness companies into tech companies
One undeniable change this technology has had on exercise is the role that mainstay fitness companies, like Nike and Under Armour, play. While research and technology have always been key to the development of their products, these companies have had to quickly pivot into becoming full-fledged technology companies. Nike began this journey with the Nike+ partnership with Apple. Under Armour acquired workout tracking app, MyFitnessPal, and established a “Connected Fitness” division to focus solely on the technology products that will ensure that the company stays relevant to those looking to stay fit.
This is only the beginning. As technology continues to improve, we will see more and more enhancements in the usefulness that technology can have with our health routines. Currently, using a wearable device or smartphone app requires a lot of user input and manual fiddling; it is far from the seamless experience that one would hope for. But it won’t be long before the technology is so small, and the software so smart, that exercise will be changed forever.