Gearing up for a mega test on wearable wristbands

Which of these is the most wearable, and why?

Which of these is the most wearable, and why?

During February, I’ll be running a mega-test on wearable wristbands. The goal is to try and get past the “so what now” point and discover which (if any) of the current crop of popular models provides value-add for day-to-day life, in terms of actionable analytics.

I’ll look at everything from getting started, usability and wearability, and accessing and liberating the data that I’m collecting. The goal is to better understand which – if any – of the wristbands provide truly life-enhancing or game-changing benefits.

Post-CES, there’s been a lot of media coverage about how 2014 has indeed had a flying start as the year of #wearabletechnology, but also flagging widespread consumer skepticism as to the biggest question right now: Why bother?

So far my pool of test products includes  a Jawbone UP, Fitbit Flex, Polar Loop and the Fitbug. Of these, only the Polar can track heart-rate in addition to the standard measurement of movement, but then only with an additional chest-band. Does tracking heart-rate really even matter, for a casual consumer “fitness band”?

I’ll be channeling all the data via smartphones: The devices all sync with an iPhone, provided it is a 4S or higher, while there’s more limited and patchy support for Android devices, including high-end models which use low-energy Bluetooth.

The Jawbone UP provides an idle alert, while it and the Fitbit both provide silent alarms. I’m still to discover what the Fitbug can do, eagerly awaiting a Fitbug account in order to get started.

Most of the products announced at CES are not yet available, including the Sony SmartBand, LG’s Life Band, and the Neptune Pine, so they’ll go into a round two test, along with the Nike FuelBand if the Nike PR people finally get round to responding.

If there’s anything else you’d recommend for the test, for example if you’re developing a wristband that’s launching soon, use the comment form below to let me know…


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