Pedometers were the first sports wearable and now seem almost quaint. Today's wearables have grown in capabilities and formats, providing complex data on your overall fitness and easily integrates into your lifestyle.
The Sport and Fitness Wearable Industry
Smart watches, fit bits, simple pedometers and high-tech clothing are part of the multi-billion-dollar business that is the smart sports and fitness wearable industry. These products generated $3.5 billion in revenues in 2014 and sales are anticipated to reach $14.9 billion by 2021. This growth is due in part to an expanding market that includes:
Employer health program participants
Products range from low tech/low data fitness trackers to sophisticated watches and clothing items that monitor heart rate, compare past performances and include GPS tracking. The demand for all levels of these products is growing, and their use is becoming ubiquitous.
Sports Wearables - Fitness Trackers
Fitness trackers are the most broadly used sports wearables and provide information about the number of steps taken, calories burned, and stairs climbed although some also include heart rate and sleep pattern monitoring, and GPS tracking. Many store data from day to day and award "badges" or "achievements" for reaching certain milestones. These best brands of fitness trackers include:
FitBit which has several high-quality options across several price points.
Garmin including the well-reviewed Vivoactive HR and the Forerunner 620
These are a few of the many fitness tracking wearables on the market that provide great all around information on health and fitness.
Wearables for Specific Sports
Some sports require wearables that can function in particular climates or include additional features that are relevant to the needs of the user. For example, Android's Nixon Mission is designed for use by surfers and snowboarders. There are products designed for marathoners, long-distance runners and gym enthusiasts. Catapult has created wearables for professional and college sports teams to monitor the workload of athletes. The development of sports-specific wearables for professional and amateur athletes continues to grow and encompass all manner of team and individual sports.
Sports Wearable Clothing
The biggest advancement in wearables is the shift from a watch or wrist-style device to one that is integrated into clothing. Products include smart socks that improve a runner's posture and smart shirts that monitor golf swings. Sensors are now placed in sports bras, athletic shoes, running shorts and belts making them convenient and efficient. They offer real-time performance data that can be used to adjust output to maximize results.
Beyond the inclusion of sensors, companies such as Google and Noble Biomaterials are creating threads that have a conductive metal core that's mixed with conventional fibers and can be dyed any color. That makes the entire garment a sensor which allows for the collection of a greater variety of data.
Wearable sports clothing is the newest product arm of the sports and fitness wearable industry and is attracting investors from across the globe. These products are the ones expected to achieve the most growth and innovation over the next several years.
Wearables and Sports Safety
Wearables have moved beyond monitoring and performance enhancement to include safety. While this section of the wearable market is becoming commonplace in the workforce, specific products have been developed to address the needs of athletes.
Provides an accurate analysis of your performance.
It does all of this while protecting your head and is certified by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Sideline Impact is an app rather than a wearable, but it's worth mentioning as it can benefit any children, teen, and adult who may experience a head injury while participating in a sporting event or activity. This app presents a brief cognitive test to identify the signs and symptoms of a concussion so you know if you need to seek medical intervention.
Bracelet and watch-type sports and fitness wearables are growing in popularity as are more sophisticated sports-specific devices. This industry is shifting focus from wearables you add to your outfit to wearables that are your outfit. These products will continue to evolve and are expected to become integrated into the everyday life of not only athletes but those who want to monitor and improve their fitness levels.
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