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The Features and Benefits of Fitness Tracking Technology

Fitness tracking devices have become popular health and wellness products. A wearable device designer should be aware of the types of data that can be collected and how sensors and other components work together to obtain, condition, digitize and transmit information. Learn more about how fitness trackers work and consider how your wearable device idea can benefit from sensor technology.

Fitness Tracking Data

Fitness trackers are capable of gathering a wide range of data. Product designers can consider whether a device they may be designing should be able to detect the following types of data:

  • Altitude: air pressure and impact on performance
  • Bioimpedance: resistance for measuring body mass, hydration and respiration
  • ECG/EKG: electrical signals generated by heart muscles
  • Heart rate: heartbeat when active or resting
  • Motion: movement in all directions, steps or sleep quality
  • Temperature: measures heat

Most leading wearables include altitude, heart rate and motion sensors. Bioimpedence, ECG/EKG and temperature sensors are somewhat less common. Designers should consider the intended uses and market for a device when determining which sensors to include. Our IoT design services can offer guidance during the product development process.

Wearable Sensors

Fitness tracking devices contain a variety of sensors. A wearable device designer may want to include some of the following components:

  • Accelerometer: 3-axis sensor tracks motion in all directions and counts steps
  • Ambient light sensor: reduces signal interference for optical sensors, adjusts screen brightness
  • Barometer: measures air pressure to determine altitude
  • Bioimpedance: tests resistance for measuring body mass, hydration, respiration
  • Biopotential: ECG/EKG electrical signals, R-R interval
  • Gyroscope: determines motion, rotation or physical orientation
  • Heart rate monitor: optical sensor that detects movement of blood in surrounding capillaries
  • Temperature: built-in component or patch that measures heat

Sensors connect to signal conditioning circuits and output is digitized by an analog-to-digital converter. Some product development companies get around the need for original design from the ground up by relying on integrated systems that combine basic sensors with signal processing, digitization and transmission components.

Tracking Benefits

There are many benefits to collecting data through sensors when combined with a well-designed wearable device and user interface. Most users appreciate step counts and exercise modes made possible with an accelerometer, barometer, gyroscope and heart rate monitor. Once raw readings have been conditioned and analyzed, this information provides a useful index for activity levels and overall health measurement. A wearable device designer will need to develop suitable methods for obtaining and presenting this data. IoT design services can be helpful to product development companies striving to create functional and user-friendly fitness tracking technology.

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