6 things you didn't know wearable technology could do

Woman wearing fitness tracker at the gym | Things wearable technology can do | Tesco Living

Want to tap into the latest trend for wearable health and fitness tech but not sure how it can help you? We consulted the experts to discover how it can make your life easier

1. It can help you stick to a calorie-controlled diet

Virtually every fitness tracker on the market can track how many calories you burn over the course of a day but there’s a new contender on the block that claims to be 85 per cent accurate at measuring how many calories you take in. “The Healbe GoBe is an interesting concept that takes a more scientific angle than other popular fitness wristbands by using its sensor to test water cells for carbohydrates that a person has recently consumed,” explains Robert Prime, director of wearable.co.uk. “You have to wait for up to about two hours to get results.” It’s worth it, though, as it takes the maths – not to mention the guesswork – out of monitoring the number of calories you consume.

2. It can help you sleep better

“Most of the good fitness trackers also measure sleep patterns to some extent – they work by detecting motion when you are sleeping by using a built-in accelerometer sensor,” explains Robert. When you are in a deep, restorative sleep, you move less than when you’re in a light, less-restorative sleep, so by tracking movement and viewing results, you can see how many hours of light and deep sleep you had and how many times you woke up.” Although the devices can’t improve your slumber, they can help you identify particular sleep issues, which you can then address with your GP’s help.

3. It’s like having a personal trainer and GP available 24/7

Thanks to software compatible with the Apple Watch(below, left), you’ll be able to have personalised fitness and health monitoring at the flick of your wrist. Health-tracking services will use the processing power of your iPhone to send real-time statistics wirelessly to the watch, which will display relevant information on the device’s interface in a way that’s easy to read and understand. “Wearing the Apple Watch is like carrying around your own PT and GP as it enables you to access information about your physical state – anything from how many steps you’ve taken to how much sugar is in your blood and from how long you’ve been standing to how well your lungs are working,” says digital expert Robin Thomas.

Apple watches with bright green and orange straps | Wearable technology tips | Tesco Living Fitbit fitness tracker | Wearable technology tips | Tesco Living

4. It can help you relax

Wearable tech tends to focus on encouraging wearers to move more, but can it work when you need to stay put and chill out? “Muse, a brain-sensing headband, uses unique technology that promises to relax you within minutes. The sensors pick up your brain signals and feed back results to your phone (using the app), so you can see just how relaxed you are,” Robert explains. “With this headband, you can train your mind to be calmer and more composed with just a few meditation techniques.”

5. It can monitor how much exercise you’re doing

“There are many fitness trackers on the market, most notably the ones from Jawbone, Misfit, Fitbit (above, right) and Garmin. Available as clip-ons or wrist-wearable devices, they generally use accelerometers, which measure length and intensity of motion, to give results that you can see by connecting the tracker to your smartphone. Other devices, such as pedometers, gather individual steps and sometimes heart rate to work out how much you’ve moved and how hard you’ve worked,” explains Robert. He warns, “results aren’t always 100 per cent accurate and can vary from device to device, though this isn't necessarily an issue as long as the device itself is consistent.”

6. It can encourage you to keep exercising and eating well

There’s nothing like motivation and gentle encouragement to help spur you on to achieve your health and wellbeing goals. In addition to tracking your every move, wearable tech devices can also give you real-time feedback on your progress – and even a gentle nudge in the right direction if you waver. Methods of communication vary from beeping when your running pace slackens to awarding badges when you reach your targets. The HAPIFork, an electronic fork, alerts you with the help of indicator lights and gentle vibrations when you are eating too fast – great if you’re trying to slow down your eating to lose weight and improve digestion. When it comes to exercise, Prime recommends both Garmin Vivosmart, which learns your current activity level, then automatically assigns an attainable daily goal, and Fitbit Surge, which awards you online badges when you’ve attained a particular goal.

Words: Gabrielle Nathan