It’s almost the time of year for making New Year resolutions, and as always, fitness goals will top most lists. With so many fitness products and technologies available, there are no shortage of tools to help to those goals come to fruition. As reported by Investor’s Business Daily, Morgan Stanley “expects wearable device shipments to increase from 6 million units in 2013 to 248 million in 2017.” Samsung has issued its own research, saying “it expects spending on technology such as smartwatches and fitness trackers to increase by 182% this Christmas, compared with last Christmas.” So is there a wearable fitness device on your wish list—or shopping list—this year?
The options are starting to feel endless. According to Wired, “As of September 30 , there were 266 wearable devices on the market (including 118 fitness wearables), with 23 slated for release before the year is out.” Most fitness trackers monitor activity, steps, calories, sleep, and more. Popular devices come from FitBit, Jawbone, Garmin, Samsung, Microsoft, TomTom, and other technology and sports equipment vendors. Fitness bracelets, for example, monitor everything from your heart rate to your sleep cycle, providing a range of metrics that can be analyzed on smartphones and/or computer applications.
What to do with all this data? Users can decide to increase the amount of time they exercise, add more walking steps to their daily routine, adjust their hours of sleep, or recalibrate their calorie intake. The metrics these technologies provide are intended to help users eliminate the “mystery” behind meeting their own fitness goals, whatever they may be.
But what most consumers don’t realize is a potential big downside to these smart devices: the potential loss of privacy. While the average consumer may think that the data collected lives on their device or in their app, it really lives on servers owned and maintained by the device providers. For this reason, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has called these devices a “privacy nightmare.”