As I have been predicting here for a while, consumer wearable Health Tech products are going to have to keep adding features in order to stay competitive and to grow their market. This is a familiar trajectory for many consumer product categories. For example, look at cell phones over the past 10 or 15 years. Simple phones became digital still and video cameras, MP3 players, video players, and now full-blown Internet-capable computing devices. For those readers with a certain maturity, you may remember when FM radios and automatic transmissions were optional features in cars. Now most cars have more electronics than most living rooms, all at no extra charge. Delivering more for less with each new generation has been a winning strategy for decades, so it should come as no surprise that it is being applied to the “fitness band” market as well.
This week, Fitbit announced new models including the Charge HR and Surge, which are scheduled to ship “early” next year. Both models include the company’s new PurePulse continuous heart rate tracking technology. Using LEDs and optical sensors embedded in the back of the device, the device is able to detect the expansion and contraction of capillaries in the skin, so that heart rate can be monitored all the time. This information can be used to track daily calorie burn and other metrics more accurately. The Surge goes even further, adding GPS functions and smartwatch features such as Caller ID, text alerts, and even controls for music playback. The Surge is also specified as running up to a full week between charges.
I fully expect this trend to continue, and the lines between categories such as fitness bands and smartwatches to continue to blur. If you want Health Tech devices that will do more and cost less, you probably won’t be disappointed.