Lux Research discovers that sports wearables need to offer better advice to meet athletes’ requirements

Data released Tuesday by Lux Research showed how sports have been a big driver of the market for wearable electronics since 2014, but much improvement is needed before these devices can help athletes achieve their goals.

As ubiquitous mobile devices and trends in directions like the quantified self and smart manufacturing have created an increased interest in wearable electronics. Wearables also provide the critical link to tether people to Internet of Things ecosystems, whether it be the smart home, connected car or smart factory. However, despite significant hype, investment, the technologies, business models, and a proliferation of new devices, the future of wearables remains unclear.

The question still remains of whether wearables will cause disruption like mobile devices or merely be accessories for counting steps?

Analysts evaluated the state of innovation of wearable devices that exist today and spoke with an Olympic gymnast, a professional swimmer, and a collegiate coach, to assess the gaps that remain between what athletes need and what is available.

Their findings include that HealthBox needs more instructive tips. Under Armour’s HealthBox includes a heart rate strap, band, and scale. It has the potential to replace a personal trainer or coach but for that to happen, HealthBox needs to deliver more instructive insights than simple biometric comparisons by age, gender, and weight.

The Xmetrics’ value lies in real-time feedback. Xmetrics uses three sensors to yield data on a swimmer’s breathing pattern, stroke efficiency, time and number of laps, among other metrics. Its biggest value proposition is real-time feedback, but to be more than an intelligent timer, it needs to better educate its users on the meaning and importance of the metrics it reports.

Lastly, Vert’s value proposition is injury prevention. Vert is a wearable clip that allows users to view data on an athlete’s jumps. Mary Wise, head coach of Florida’s women’s volleyball team, uses Vert primarily to prevent injuries, but it too could benefit by providing alerts or recommendations to users on how to avoid injuries.

“Most wearables today do a great job of reporting factual information but fail to educate consumers on how to modify their behavior to achieve their health and performance goals,” said Noa Ghersin, Lux Research Associate and lead author of the report titled, “From Tracking to Intelligence: Uncovering the Unmet Needs of Today’s Athlete.”

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