June 23, 2015

FitBit fuels the future of wearable technology – what’s next?

We all love a little competition. Pairing fitness with wearable technology, FitBit inspires an active lifestyle by tracking the number of steps one takes daily, encouraging users to meet their personal fitness goals. These accomplishments are rewarded within the mobile app, instilling motivation to maintain one’s health and well being. According to its website, FitBit has inspired users to take 43% more steps. Wow, that’s a lot of calories burned!

But FitBit specializes in more than just footsteps. The wearable device also tracks sleep cycles, counts calories and allows you to foster a little friendly competition with your friends through leaderboards.

In just eight years, FitBit has taken huge strides, debuting on the global stage last week with its IPO surging to 20% in its second day of trading.

FitBit has paved the way for wearable technology, taking its traditional black band up a notch by offering more fashionable options with partner Tory Burch.

Photo courtesy of FitBit’s website.

Now, that’s something I would wear. FitBit targets a niche audience of active people, namely females; 54% of activity tracker ownership is by women. Men, on the other hand, would rather wear a smart watch.

However, ownership of either device is relatively low amongst the general population, with 11% owning activity trackers and 3% owning smart watches. So, is FitBit still in its honeymoon phase?

According to one study, nearly a third of activity tracker owners stop using these devices within six months. How can FitBit (and other wearables) retain users and continue to fulfill their needs?

First and foremost comes fashion. Users are not going to don a device that is too futuristic or tacky. Wearables must serve a dual-purpose in providing both service and style. Secondly, the device must have a clear function, fulfilling a need that the user didn’t previously know he or she had.

For example, everyone talks about trying to reduce cell phone use, especially during dinner. A year ago, Ringly, a smart jewelry company, introduced an elegant ring that notifies you when you have notifications, whether it be an email, a text or an upcoming meeting. Problem solved!

Photo from Ringly website.

It will take fashion-forward thinkers along with innovative engineers to continue to fuel the growing market for wearable technology. With $745 billion invested in the industry in California alone, the opportunities are endless. What new brands will emerge to compete with the FitBit and Apple’s Smartwatch in the domain of wearable technology? Time will tell (pun intended).