Wearable tech trending among fitness enthusiasts

May 26, 2014 1:24 pm

The UAE is considered one of the most obese regions of the world. In fact, in a recent survey carried out by the NMC Healthcare and Brunswick Insight, more than 50 per cent of 1,000 surveyed participants had a BMI score in the overweight or obese range. However, with wearable technology taking the market by storm, there may finally be a solution to get people to embrace healthier lifestyles.

Retailers across the country have cleared their shelves to welcome wearable fitness bands, such as Nike + Fuelband, Fitbit Flex and Jawbone Up. These smart wristbands allow users to keep track of their personal fitness goals, while simultaneously offering a more ‘fun and interactive experience’. With these strapped onto their wrists, users can monitor daily calories burned, total steps walked, heart rates and more – all via Bluetooth pairing with a smartphone.

“It wouldn’t be far from the mark to call 2014 the year of the wearables,” says Nadeem Khanzadah, head of retail at Jumbo Electronics Co. Ltd.

According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), global sales of wearable technology are expected to triple to 19 million units in 2014, when compared with last year. IDC estimates this number to cross the 100 million mark by 2018. “The new wave of demand has prompted top brands to enter the space with stylish, functional and competitively priced gadgets that capture the fancy of today’s ‘mobile’ consumer,” adds Khanzadah.

Even LG, which has seen the reputation of its smartphones rise over the years, recently announced its first wearable devices (which will be made available in the UAE soon): a Lifeband Touch wristband and Heart Rate earphones, which provides accurate heart rate data by measuring blood flow signals in the ear through sensors.

“[These devices] are becoming very popular,” says Tim Garrett, owner of Healthy 4 U. The fitness expert stresses that a lot of his clients use them alongside classes or personal training, because it “keeps them strict when they don’t have training or a class to go to.” According to him, these are useful since they don’t only track exercises, but can also monitor specific foods eaten over the course of a day.

So, what’s the next phase in the rise of wearable tech? Garrett points out that there are many new innovations in development at the moment, which include shrinking these devices even further so that they are only coin-sized and can be stuck onto the body. “Soon, these will come with a full package [monitoring things such as hormone or stress levels]. It’s heading in an interesting direction.”

With new features constantly being added, it’s no surprise that Khanzadah says the market for wearables is set to expand. “Besides general consumer demand, it is also anticipated that smart wearables, such as Google Glass, will gradually be adopted by enterprises. Dubai’s Smart City vision will certainly trigger more demand in this respect.”