Smartwatch and Fitness Tracker: Unreliable Detections Study

Smartwatches and, more generally, all commercially available fitness trackers are used by an increasing number of people to keep track of their sports performance. However, the information recorded by these wearables does not always turn out to be reliable and close to the reality of the facts.

A study by the Consumer Council of Hong Kong examined the data collected by professional measuring instruments and compared them with those shown by 17 smartwatches and 3 smart bands sold in China, trying to cover all price ranges – from that economic to the most expensive.

The result was more disconcerting than we could have imagined with discrepancies that even exceeded 88% regarding the count of calories burned. In this specific case, only two models provided a number of calories with a margin of error of less than 10% when monitoring daily activities, and only one during walking.

In the step count, the differences ranged from 11% to 49%, a percentage totaled by the most expensive wearable examined. Almost similar results as regards the precision in reporting the distance run or traveled with 5 models that managed to stay below the 10% threshold.

13 of the 20 devices used in this test were able to measure altitude using the GPS module, but just 4 provided a fairly precise height above sea level with an error margin of 5%.

In addition to the data relating to fitness, the analysis also took into account other factors such as ease of use, the presence or absence of certain apps, the smart features, and the performance provided by the integrated batteries. Also in this case the differences between the various fitness trackers are remarkable with average autonomies ranging from 29 hours up to 294 hours. The same goes for the time required to fully recharge the batteries, between 1.4 and 3.2 hours.

By combining all the factors analyzed, the product that scored best was the Apple Watch | Sports review Apple Watch Series 4: running, fitness, and comparison with Garmin | with 4.5 out of 5, followed by the Samsung, Garmin and Fitbit models with 4 points out of 5. Male instead Casio and Mykronoz are wearables which scored just 3/5 points.

It should be noted that smartwatches and smart bands commonly used by the vast majority of us are excellent consumer products to have a daily, approximate, and constant estimate of your sports health. The data collected, in fact, can be influenced by various factors such as positioning on the wrist, the movements performed during physical activity as well as the quality of the sensors. To get accurate and truly real information you will necessarily have to rely on professional and expensive equipment.

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