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Wearable wellness

Wearable wellness 

According to the findings of Ericsson’s Living Longer: Wellness and the Internet report, two thirds of those who use wearables also “quantify” themselves. This means that they measure related behavior in a certain way, though not necessarily through the use of a wearable. To add to that, 71 per cent of the consumers surveyed indicated that they were as much interested in quantifying themselves as they were in the topic of wearables in general.

The report also stated that people who were very satisfied with their level of wellness need both style and function in a tracking device. More than half – 55 per cent – of the respondents said product design was important, while 59 per cent purchases devices designed to fulfill specific functional needs.

Wellness and wearables are indeed a “timely” talking point from both a technological and a fitness standpoint. IT in Canada spoke to Dr. Michael Björn, head of research for Ericsson’s Consumer Lab to gain some insight into this issue.

IT in Canada: What led to wearables’ rise in popularity?
örn: From our perspective, we should try to think about wearables as part of a larger lifestyle phenomenon. I think the phenomenon we’re looking at here is the (desire) to feel well, rather than just getting treatment for a disease. The starting point for our report is to look at the overall satisfaction with wellness, and that includes both your satisfaction with your health and your looks.

We see that from a global perspective, only 10 per cent are completely satisfied with their wellness today. It doesn’t mean that everyone feels sick; but it does mean that people have this belief that they can feel better than they do today. There are a lot of opportunities for people to feel better, and wearables are not the only technology with the capability to do that.

There is a gradual change in lifestyle here where we are switching from just thinking about our health in terms of being sick or not sick, to thinking about feeling well or not well. That is ultimately why wearables are an interesting area for people.

ITIC: How do these devices help to promote adopting a healthier lifestyle?
People expect that wearables and other related devices will make it possible to monitor and potentially adjust your behaviour. The end result of that would be to enable yourself to live a healthier and potentially longer life. It’s important to point out that it’s not just one thing.

For example, in the study, we saw that wearables that handle stress came out on top. There is the idea that you should be jogging all day, but it’s not the only way. The second-most popular (method) would be to have a traditional fitness tracker. There are also fleet-monitoring aspects, and having better information about (nutrition).

These things together are highly informative, and the more informed you are about what you’re doing, eating, or what happens around you related to your wellness and health, you can make these choices and adopt a healthier lifestyle.

ITIC: According to the report, two-thirds of people who use wearables “quantify” themselves through their behaviour. Why is this?
We first explored the notion of the quantified self in our annual 10 Hot Consumer Trends report last year. What we’ve see is that people are documenting their habits by using a diary, for example, and that’s been around for quite some time.

In comparison to that, more recently, people have been using wearable devices to automatically monitor some of their behaviours. They see this as an opportunity to use these types of connected technologies because it entails a cloud service where you can analyze your (statistics) in order to improve your overall wellness.

If you look at it from a different perspective, more than half of those who quantify their behaviour also use wearables, so the link is very strong.

ITIC: The report also indicates that 71 per cent of wearable users are as interested in quantifying themselves as they are in wearables in general. Why is this?
This correlation is very high, and so when you think about quantifying these behaviours, the obvious solution for you is to use a wearable device in order to do that. I think it’s easier for people to make this idea of (analyzing) their performance stats more tangible if they have a device to do it with.

If you have more concrete stats, it make it easier for you to talk to (others) about them. For example, on my social media feeds, I’ve been posting about how far I’ve been running, and the amount of time it took. In that respect, it also becomes a way for you to connect to others who are doing that.

ITIC: It has been said that wearables may be a passing fad. Do you believe this is the case?
The important thing here is to put wearables into the perspective of peoples’ interest in their own wellness. I don’t think that the interest we have in our wellness is going to go away. I also don’t think that peoples’ belief in information and connected technologies as a way to improve will go away either.

We will continue to have in our wellness, and we will continue to think that information is going to be an important part of that. This can be accomplished through more means than wearables, and that is why we point out in this report that there are other things that people are considering, and also that there are some basic criteria that wearables need to meet.

It’s not just about functionality; there has to be a connection between useful functionality and good design because these are things you’re going to wear.

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