The idea of a wearable computer has been toyed with for decades now, and hit TV shows such as the Jetsons as well as Inspector Gadget have basically primed our minds for a world of smartwatches and other wearables. In the case of smartwatches, it was heard this week that users are more likely to purchase and keep on using a fitness tracker than they were a smartwatch. On the face of it, this makes sense, as a fitness tracker – like the Gear Fit 2 pictured above – potentially offers a user much more functionality and many of them now offer features you'd expect to see on a smartwatch as well. A new study now suggests that these fitness trackers might not be all that they're cracked up about, and they could even hinder, rather than help, your weight loss goals.
The study, which collected data from 500 overweight volunteers, was recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, suggested that these fitness trackers might not be anything more than a simple gadget. Lead Researcher for the study, Dr John Jakicic, shared what all wearable manufacturers have been afraid of; "people have a tendency to use gadgets like these for a while and then lose interest with time". The general theme of the study appears to be a mix of complacency as well as depression. Jakicic said that thanks to the fitness trackers step counts and calorie burn data, they might think after a workout that they "can eat a cupcake now" and that the depression side of things comes in when users aren't hitting the recommended goals that these fitness trackers often throw at people. One a user doesn't meet these goals; it can often feel as if the tracker is doing nothing more than letting them know how lazy they've been throughout the day.
Another study from the University of Pittsburgh saw a group of people with trackers lose just 3.6 Kg, while the control group lost 5.9 Kg. However, it appears as though it is ultimately down to the type of person wearing said tracker that determines whether or not they will lose weight as a result. Those that are already motivated to get fit or stay healthy are, unsurprisingly, more likely to stick at it and use the fitness tracker to keep the pounds off and keep fit.