Wearables don't lead to changes in health habits--yet

There are a plethora of devices to track physical activity, but they're not yet useful for changing behavior, according to a group of researchers. However, they say that the rising wave of mHealth wearables could help solve that problem. 

A research team, representing universities in the United Kingdom and Australia, assessed characteristics and measurement properties of 82 self-monitoring activity devices. While a good majority track motion, very few were found to measure sedentary behavior, according to a study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

But the researchers believe future wearable innovation could bulk up sedentary monitoring options and boost activity tracking technologies. 

In addition, the study's authors said that work "between engineers, computer scientists and academics in relevant fields is needed to develop these technologies that provide real-time, personalized, context-aware feedback to aid in the reduction in sitting time and its detrimental effect on cardiometabolic health."

They also noted that more research is necessary to further investigate device ability to boost physical activity and decrease sedentary activity.

Tractica Research predicts that a flood of healthcare wearables will hit the market in two to three years, with worldwide shipments jumping from 2.5 million this year to 97.6 million units annually by 2021. The research firm also expects body sensor shipments to increase from 2.7 million this year to 68 million units over the same time period.

The JMIR researchers hope that such an increase in options will also drive improved functionality of self-monitoring devices.

For more information:
- read the JMIR research report