The wearable market might conjure up images of smartwatches or headsets, but today the majority of wearable devices are fitness and activity trackers. We've seen a number of manufacturers battling out for a share of this market. The market leader is Fitbit but there are a number of relatively new entrants into the space such as Under Armour. Under Armour started out life twenty years ago by manufacturing a synthetic-fiber t-shirt designed to wick perspiration away from the body and over the years has developed a range of sports and leisure wear and more recently has been moving into the activity tracking market. Mike Lee, the company's Chief Digital Officer, explained that Under Armour are planning to make announcements of future hardware "in early 2017." Back in January 2016, Under Armour unveiled the HealthBox devices, which included the Under Armour Band fitness tracker, heart rate monitoring straps and smart connected scales. Under Armour has subsequently added heart rate monitoring headphones designed in conjunction with Harman and the Speedform Gemini 2 RE smart running shoes. The company means business in the wearable technology arena.
If history is to repeat itself, Under Armour are set to announce their new hardware in January 2017 and perhaps introduced the products at the Consumer Electronics Show. Under Armour have learnt from their 2016 product family and have been watching how consumers interact with the data gleaned from their wearable technology, in particular with sleep observations. Lee explained: "Our community is beginning to understand the importance of sleep and how it plays into the overall ecosystem of sleep, fitness, activity and nutrition." The Under Armour Band includes automatic sleep tracking algorithms and whilst there's no news as to what features will be included in the 2017 family, it's a sure fire bet that sleep tracking will be a key part. Lee indicated that Under Armour are concentrating their efforts on technology to "…help people reach their maximum potential to become better athletes and lead healthier lives." The company has no plans to incorporate breathing and relaxation features into the products, as we have seen Apple and Fitbit add to their devices.
Another topic discussed was that of food and nutrition tracking and Lee explained that the biggest challenge facing wearable device users is that in logging everything that they eat with the intention of monitoring the situation. He said: "The simple act of writing down what you put in your body is tedious but effective. We have found that users who log their entire days' worth of food are more likely to stick to the plan." Under Armour have also noticed how customers use the data to adapt their plans, citing the example that if a user sees they have enjoyed a calorie-high lunch they will scale back their evening meal. The team are concentrating on simplifying the nutrition logging system to encourage people to use this technology. As the underlying technology becomes more sophisticated, Under Armour will continue to develop their products. The company already has a focus on coaching and presenting the information to customers. It is possible that Under Armour will use the IBM Watson artificial intelligence system with analytical data in order to provide users with insight into their tracking and nutrition data.