Health IS Technology Blog

Metabolism is Not My Son, But I Will Raise It: How Wearables Can Improve Healthy Habits



Remember the first time you saw someone with a Bluetooth earpiece lodged inside their ear? You were probably either perplexed or fascinated because you’ve never seen a cyborg walk around in public before. Today, it’s commonplace to see people use Bluetooth earpieces everywhere, only now they’re susceptible to looking like they’re talking to themselves.

Although it feels like centuries ago, the debut of Bluetooth earpieces gave us an early glimpse of wearable technology’s potential. Today, it almost seems there’s always another new company attempting to pioneer new innovative ways wearable technology can be used in our daily lives.

Wearable technology has certainly evolved over the years as the industry has introduced many new categories of wearables. There’s been so many various uses and categories of wearables that it’s been quite difficult to distinguish one from the other as some fall under multiple categories. But there’s still one category that continues to captivate entrepreneurs and investors. I’m not talking about Google Glass or even smartwatches either.

Thanks to the rise of digital health, fitness devices have seen a sudden breakout lately and it isn’t by coincidence. The outlook of fitness devices is expected to see a boost in popularity and usage where the industry won’t to be taking its foot off the pedal anytime soon. The success of fitness devices could be largely credited to FitBit and Nike+ Fuelband helping wearables earn more legitimacy in the industry with their sleek marketing and brand recognition. There’s also the fact that USF Health Pharmacy Plus™ provides and showcases wearable technology that’s conveniently located right inside The Morsani Center.


Thanks to the rise of digital health, fitness devices have seen a sudden breakout lately and it isn’t by coincidence.


But why exactly are we obsessing over fitness devices so much lately? Aren’t these wearables just another fancy overpriced pedometer? In actuality, there’s still a method behind the madness and it all starts out with the patient, the consumer, and the health freak in all of us. Here are a few reasons how wearables are inevitably going to make us all healthier…


Digital health has been becoming more accommodating to the consumer which gives fitness devices more value as of late. We’re in the age of the consumer and wearables have refined many of its features to cater to a more participatory clientele. A consumer’s interaction with such technologies enable them to increase their access, command, and control over their health data. With more control and understanding over our health data, it can unravel new things about how we should adjust our lifestyles accordingly in order to improve such data.

Health data is packaged, marketed, and now sold to us through wearables in a way where it does drive interactivity. Health experts see an opportunity for users to be much more involved with their health if wearables do increase interactivity. Our obsession over sleeping, stress, and heart-rate patterns will help us optimize our bodies to the best of our abilities. Increased interaction paves new ways where the fitness device itself will be able to warn or notify us if we’re not keeping up with our routines. As consumers become more engaged with their own health, they will take greater responsibility for managing it.


Leveling Up

Another way wearables intends to improve our health extends upon interactivity and it’s by implementing a concept called gamification. The idea of gamification applies ‘game’ design, characteristics, and techniques to encourage ‘players’ achieve specific goals. This proven concept has been implemented in education, business, consumerism, and most recently, healthcare.

We’re all obsessed with accumulating points in return for rewards whether we’re racking up SkyMiles, Starbucks Rewards, or even if they’re for non-redeemable points like Reddit Karma or Instagram ‘Likes’. Humans are competitive by nature so creating milestones, goals, and rewards within a fitness application can only engage consumers even more. PACT is a great example of an app that creates incentives for those who exercise more. Even Wii Fit can be seen as a game disguised for kids that adults can use.

Wearables is certainly changing how we view and approach exercising. Motivating more people into buying into the health tracking experience is all in the name of the game. Those who like to flaunt on how many steps they’ve taken or how many calories they’ve burned not only creates a sense of accomplishment for themselves but allows for others to compare and measure their progression as well. Adding status tiers also creates friendly competition between your friends, family, and colleagues with the intention of getting healthier. And as ironic as it sounds, perhaps the gamification of wearables will inherently alter our goals into spending more time being active instead of spending time being fixated on our cell phones.


The Nature of Authority

For most of us, there’s a sense of comfort and ease when we head to the doctor’s office. We literally trust them with our lives in their hands. This is because we buy into reputable organizations and structures such as universities, non-profits, and in particularly, hospitals. For that reason alone, the very nature of a physician’s authority trumps everything you just read on WebMD. We’ll pretty much do whatever doctors tell us as long as it keeps us healthy.

Based on the merit of healthcare providers, they could very well start leveraging wearable technology as a means to monitor patients’ vital stats with a more intensive approach. Practitioners being able to survey health data instantaneously allows them to take the appropriate steps in formulating a health plan much quicker.

Quantified health data captured by wearables can be used as a tool to focus more attention on preventive care over palliative care. Hospitals and health organizations hold a lot of influential buying power and if they’re able to push these products, there’s no doubt you’ll see an influx of fitness devices being used.


We the People

The hype is real. Digital fitness is a game changer in the wearables domain with a slew of fitness devices and health applications penetrating the market. Tech enthusiasts seem to be raving about the latest wearables over smartphones these days too. This may be because the novelty of smartphones have worn off and we’re yearning for new toys to play with which currently takes the form of wearable technology.

Health technology is becoming more pervasive in our lives and it’s catching fire thanks to the endorsement of its own users. The growth of fitness devices largely depends on how its consumers spread their opinions and good use of their devices to others.

The development of followers and enthusiasts can create a domino effect for just about any product. Just as the iPhone garnered its success, it was the consumers, not the company itself, that influenced the masses to the adopt the idea that the iPhone, and not the BlackBerry was the next big thing. BlackBerry, the intended enterprise phone of choice, had an abbreviated shelf life once most people figured using a stylus got annoying.

But we as consumers should know what’s best. Although wearable devices still remain in its raw stages, it’ll continue to evolve and improve as long as we keep obsessing over anything that can be affixed on our body. We’re already at a point where we see wearables seamlessly sewn into the clothes we wear. Our mantra of healthy living will very much coincide with the prosperity of wearables as we’re the ones who will dictate how much we want fitness devices immersed in our lives.