How good are fitness trackers? | Sanitas magazine

Fail on measurement accuracy

Fitness trackers on the test

Activity trackers and fitness wristbands are on trend. But just how accurate are their measurements? The results show there’s definite room for improvement.

In 2014, researchers at Iowa State University gave 50 healthy test subjects aged between 18 and 65 the most popular activity trackers to test. The study indicated that activity trackers are fairly inaccurate in comparison to measurements taken by a medical professional.

The participants wore seven different devices simultaneously from a range of manufacturers and were monitored with a respiratory gas analysis system. The average deviation in calorie consumption compared to measurements taken by a medical professional ranged between 15 and 18%. The largest deviation amounted to 40%. All experts were, however, unanimous that absolute precision is not the most important criterion for activity trackers. It’s far more important that users are able to track changes and improvements to their activity levels over a longer period of time.

The most popular apps and online services

Strava iHealth
MyFitnessPal Runtastic
Dacadoo Nike+
Loop GarminConnect
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