Known Unknown: The Uncertainty and Inaccuracy of Consumer Wearable Devices

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The emergence of wearable technologies (e.g., smart watches, fitness trackers, smart clothing and jewelry) has enabled the widespread collection and tracking of data related to many aspects of health and human behavior. While self-tracking is most commonly used to support self-improvement and achievement of personal fitness goals, the process also can also enable better monitoring of physical activity, sleep, and other activities of interest among individuals with chronic medical conditions .

Consumer Wearable Devices

Devices intended to promote a healthy lifestyle focus primarily on capturing measures of physical activity and other fitness-oriented metrics are commonly called “activity-” or “fitness-trackers”. The low cost and social desirability of such trackers has contributed to the rapid growth of these products among consumers. Consumer wearable’s enable the acquisition of personal metrics that support self-monitoring of progress toward individual fitness goals and can also be used to broadcast performance within a peer-group to elicit or provide social support, both of which are strong mediators associated with increases in overall physical activity.


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