August 20, 2015

What Do Wearables Mean For Wellness?

Wearables + Wellness

Fueled by the need for connectivity and convenience, consumers are adopting wearables at warp speed and pushing big data back into the spotlight. According to recent reports, the Apple Watch is expected to land in the hands (and on the wrists) of 27 million consumers come 2016.

While the recent explosion in personal tracking technology is attributed to the tech titans and digital visionaries of Silicon Valley, the data-driven approach to health and wellness is not a new trick. More than 200 years ago, Benjamin Franklin also took to tracking his personal development through a well-documented diary, later published as “The Art of Virtue.” Interestingly enough, he did it without the help of Live Journal and MyFitnessPal.

Flash forward to a more recent example of “life-logging” and we have James Norris, a social entrepreneur from California, who spent more than 15 years (and half his life) recording and cataloging almost 2,000 of his “life firsts” on post-its.

Between the Fitbits, Jawbones and endless stream of apps and health-hacks we should be well on our way to wellness. Experts agree, monitoring health metrics is great, but story do they tell us? Hoards of day-to-day data on our health can provide a wealth of information, but without extensive analysis, metrics mean nothing without context.

“There’s been a lot of hype and attention around wearables,” says Dr. Mitesh S. Patel, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Health Care Management at the University of Pennsylvania. “But the device alone isn’t what’s actually going to make us healthy.”

In an era where gym selfies serve as the new social currency and logging 10,000 steps earns a well-deserved donut — we can’t help but ask, does data really deliver on the promises of enhanced wellness or are we simply tapping into the psyche of the health obsessed market?

Let’s just say it’s still too soon to trade in the Apple Activity App for the time-tested “Apple-A-Day/Doctor” trick.