In today's world, fitness related businesses and products are growing like crazy. One of the larger trends seen in the mobile electronic market are fitness related products. While there were fitness bands like FitBit and a handful of useful health applications available for mobile devices, 2014 has been flooded with fitness related products compared to other years.
At the beginning of the year I attended CES 2014 and after spending a week looking at all of the new devices coming to the market, I knew that connected devices would be a huge hit. One thing that I did not see at the time was all of the fitness related technology that we have today except for a fitness band and a set of heart rate sensing ear buds from LG. All of this took place in the early part of January.
When February 24th rolled around, Samsung announced 4 new devices that I believe got the fitness trend rolling. These devices were the Samsung Galaxy S5, Gear 2, Gear Neo, and the Gear Fit. All four of these devices came loaded with a physical heart rate monitor built into the rear side of the device and had plenty of fitness related software built in to go along with it. This hardware addition seemed to come from nowhere but apparently it was a hit as new and current Samsung customers started to order these devices so that they would have access to the new additions.
Since Samsung announced this lineup of devices with fitness aspects baked in, other companies like LG, Huawei, and many others have come out with health centered devices. While I cannot confirm that all of these new devices have stemmed out of the Samsung announcement, I am more than confident that if Samsung had not let the way, we would not be where we are today.
So now comes the main point of this piece; do we really need all of these connected devices from every manufacturer under the sun. When I look at all of the competition out there, all I see are slight hardware differences or different user interfaces for the same technology. When it comes to all of the different fitness wear and trackers, does it really matter if it is branded to one company or another? To make it even worse, it seems like most of the new hardware is only compatible with select devices when older hardware like the FitBit are compatible to hundreds of devices and even work on different platforms.
Instead of companies trying to create their own look, I think we need to be looking to software developers to create applications that use the technology that is already out there. One application that has been highly successful on Google Glass is called LynxFit which was first created by a developer by the name of Noble Ackerson. LynxFit is Glassware that works as a personal fitness instructor that walks the user through different exercises in a way that was only possible beforehand with a real life person there with you.
My point to all of this is not to bash the fact that fitness has become such a huge trend in the mobile market recently but that if we are going to push it so much, we need to think differently. The world does not need a thousand more fitness bands or pedometers, we need more creative ways to use them. Companies like Samsung, LG, and now even Apple have their own health applications. Instead of all of these companies keeping their ecosystems closed so that only certain devices and applications work with their services, why not work together to make it so that any fitness tracking device works with as many phones as possible so that the user can spend more time finding software that they like. Just maybe if the user can spend less time trying to match their fitness tracker to their phone, they will be able to spend more time becoming fit by using the devices they own.