Can you track runs with a fitness tracker? Wearable tech myths debunked

Don't believe everything you hear: Fitness tracker facts and smartwatch sense
Wearable tech myth busting

The man on the street is dummy - at least when it comes to wearable technology. In fact, he and your mate down the pub should get together and have the world's least well-informed children on the subjects of fitness trackers, smartwatches and all the other connected self insights that we cover here on Wareable.

How many steps should you take each day? Is VR going to make you vom? Just which smartwatches are you supposed to buy?

Turn to us for the answers on these; not some low-knowledge loudmouth.

These are the biggest wearable tech myths in the world today and just why none of them are actually true.

Myth: Wearable tech is a fad

Truth: You're a fad.

There are bad wearables out there and you might even level it that smartwatches are not here to stay. It's possible. But wearable tech a fad? Please.

Wearables will change form. Some will become disposables, some will be invisibles, some will be fashion items and others will become implantables but the fact of the matter is that we want to know more and more about ourselves and we want our services to have a better understanding of us in return.

Wearables are the beginning; the ending is immeasurable.

Myth: Smartwatches need smartphones

Truth: Not all the time

Ok, so we're not going to tell you to buy a smartwatch unless you have a smartphone to go with it. There are a whole bunch of core functions - not least of all the set-up - for which a smartphone is integral. You will not need the two of them paired at all times to get the most out of your smartwatch though.

Both the Samsung Gear S and S2 watches actually have SIM cards of their own inside for all kinds of solo connectivity, and even the Apple Watch and others don't need you to go running with your phone in your pocket to track and record your exercise data.

Myth: VR Will make you sick

Truth: It can, but the best made content won't give you any nausea at all.

There's not one, nailed-down reason why VR can make people feel sick but most of the thinking is around a discord between your senses. A virtual roller-coaster experience might have your eyes spinning all over the place and yet, according to your vestibular system - the one that controls balance at your inner ear - you're absolutely stock still. Your brain fails to compute and you start feeling like you want to hurl.

A lot of the vomit-avoiding solutions of late have centred around ramping up screen resolution and frame rates to match the speeds and quality of what your visual cortex is used to processing in the real world. Largely speaking it's all working quite well. The bottom line here is that there are thousands of VR demos for Oculus and the like at the moment. Those with big companies behind them are very unlikely to cause nausea. It's the smaller developers with whom you might want the old puke bag at the ready.

Myth: 10,000 steps burns 400 calories

Truth: It's a reasonable guideline but it's impossible to say

The figure of 400 calories is meant to be for a person who's 45 years old and weighs 70kg but, even with body mass and age factored in, there are really still too many variables to accurately figure out how much fat you've burned, no matter what your fitness tracker is telling you.

How fast are you walking? What's your stride length? Are those steps up or down hill? Were they all proper steps or were some smaller movements?

The message here is, if you're trying to lose weight, don't get caught up in the counting of calories in this way. Reduce your food portions by one quarter, walk 10,000 steps in a day and slowly but surely you'll reap the benefits.

Myth: You can track runs with a fitness tracker

Truth: Depends on your tracker and definition of 'track'

Without GPS, your tracking device has absolutely no idea where you are and, if it has no idea where you are, then it has no idea where you've been either. So, that thing around your wrist doesn't know where you are, where you've been and therefore would have no way of judging how long it took you to get between those two points over which it has absolutely zero knowledge. Getting the picture? Yeah, well your GPS-less fitness tracker isn't.

Most trackers can tell you about the number of steps you've taken and maybe have insights about activities like yoga or swimming based on movements which the accelerometers and gyros inside can pick up. But the bottom line is this: no GPS, no run tracking. Try one of these instead.

Myth: Sleep tracker smart alarms will make you feel better

Truth: Maybe in the short term, but more sleep equals better rested

There are points in your sleep cycle from which it's nicer to wake; you're not so groggy and experience less 'sleep inertia' as the experts call it. Don't confuse that with meaning that it's better to continually clip you last 30 or 40 minutes of rest each morning. It's not.

You want to be grabbing as much kip as you can within reason. Smart alarms that can detect your phase of sleep are largely demonstrations of how clever the technology is rather than something that we actually need in our lives.

Myth: Smartglasses are dead

Truth: Google Glass is dead. Sort of. Smart glasses are not

Yes, the original, beta Google Glass Explorer program is over but Google, certainly officially speaking, has not pulled the plug on Glass. It's said that it's ready to move away from that phase of things and that the journey is not over.

Suffice to say, if it's not over, it's certainly having a bit of a rest in some quiet boozer in the country somewhere. Fortunately, it's propping up the bar with Nest CEO Tony Fadell, who's sobering it up and getting it ready to face the public again in the form of Google Glass 2 some time in the future. Don't hold your breath.

The fact of the matter is that AR glasses are a tricky beast to get right. They're hard technically, they're hard socially; they're still trying to get VR glasses right and that's almost half as easy. Take a look at companies like Vuzix and Recon as well as Microsoft HoloLens and whatever the hell it is that the mysterious Magic Leap is getting together. Smartglasses are alive and well - at least for the time being.

Myth: Heart-rate monitors on watches are not accurate enough

Truth: They're not perfect, but they accurate enough for most

Right now, a chest strap is a more dead-on measure of heart rate but that doesn't mean that running watches with HRMs built in aren't worth using. Unless you're an elite sportsperson or undertaking clinical trials, then consistency is of far greater use than accuracy in a wearable running device. So long as your watch is consistently off by the same 10% or so, then that's ok because, generally speaking, our training is about monitoring change rather than absolute values.

Of course, some HRMs are more consistent than others - and we'll tell you all about that in our sports watch reviews - but, more importantly, they're getting better all the time. Should you run with a HRM sports watch? Of course.

Myth: Wearable payments are not safe

Truth: Wearable payments can be safer than normal contactless payments

A payment by one of Barclays bPay wearables is no different to a normal contactless payment. The wearable is linked to a debit or credit card that you own and, each time you tap, the payment is taken off in much the same way. You're also covered by the same rights in that there's a limit per transaction, so it would be tricky for someone to clean you out before the system auto-declines them.

What's more the headline wearable payment system, Apple Pay, is arguably even safer than a normal plastic tap and go. Your Apple Watch or iPhone never actually passes over any of your account details to the merchant. Instead, it creates an encrypted token. Even if that were intercepted somewhere, it wouldn't tell the thief anything useful. Apple Pay also requires either a PIN or a fingerprint ID to work. Contactless card payments involve neither.

Myth: Smartwatches are only for geeks

Truth: There are some stylish smartwatches for both men and women

It's true to say that the first few waves of smartwatches looked more like a small computer on your arm than anything else but the wearable industry has quickly clued up to the fact that their products need to look good.

Enter the obvious delights of the his and hers Apple Watch collection, including the solid gold Edition. Look a little closer and you'll find stylish Swiss gems such as the Mondaine Helvetica No.1 Smart and the Breitling B55 Connected. Better still, there's some very tasty recent announcements with the Moto 360 2 and Pebble Time Round. Take a look at some more over here.

Myth: Most people abandon their fitness trackers after a few months

Truth: Most people do not

About half of Fitbit's registered users are still using their fitness tracking wearables. That's not bad given that many of them will have upgraded to bigger, better sports watches and that Fitbit has been selling its devices for over 5 years now.

The statistic that's probably the most useful is that about one-third of people give up on their Fitbits after 6 months. So, have you got more grit than most or are you in the bottom third?

Myth: Virtual Reality is a gimmick, like 3DTV

Truth: VR is here to stay. Believe.

Virtual worlds have been in consistent use for decade. They're useful and they work. Think MMORPGS, think Second Life, think chat rooms; think any computer-generated environment you've ever enjoyed.

Virtual Reality is simply about a more efficient, more immersive way to enjoy them. There are hundreds of applications from art to pornography, from education to entertainment. All the that's been holding it back has been getting the hardware just right and getting the content that already exists delivered in a palatable manner. 3DTV, on the other hand, is a way of upselling you on a perfectly good telly you bought 5 years ago. It's also a way to try to convince people to get back down to the cinema. Good talk.

Myth: Wearables will make you look at screens all day

Truth: Some wearables are designed to keep your eyes away from your phone

Yes, an item of wearable technology might mean another screen to contend with but the idea is that they act as devices to filter out the noise of your mobile.

It's a quick glance at your wrist to find out if you need to answer your phone; an eye to one arm to help you ignore the trivial Twitter traffic. With different colour LEDs and customisable vibrations to hand-pick in most, a wearable, used properly, can help you disconnect and digitally detox.

2 Comments

  • ProkschRainer says:

    Great list, actually, and very useful to read for people at my age.

  • AabharanS says:

    I know you've skilled sharing a "truth" you may have recognized for years most effective to have anyone point out that it's actually incorrect. Within the rapid-changing tech universe, that's very long-established. Here are seven myths that I hear humans say many times, but which aren't exactly accurate.

    1. Do not cost your system in a single day

    Many individuals are afraid to charge their cellphone or tablet in a single day due to the fact that they consider it could overcharge and ruin the battery. I also subject this query from folks involved about leaving laptops plugged in 24/7. But contemporary electronics routinely discontinue charging and so don't overcharge.

    2. Do not use 1/3-get together chargers

    there is a difference between knockoff chargers and third-get together chargers. A third-party charger is an Apple- or Android-compatible charger from a reputable enterprise like Belkin or Monoprice. 0.33-celebration chargers are good enough to buy. Simply comprehend that, regularly, they won't cost your system as quickly or reliably as a maker's professional charger.

    Knockoff chargers probably do not need a company name, or they are saying they may be from Apple, Samsung, HTC, and so forth. But have a ridiculously low fee. Knockoffs are most of the time accountable for the horror studies you hear about gadgets bursting into flames or electrocuting customers. Prevent them at all expenditures. Your most secure choice is to buy your charger directly from the device manufacturer. You will have to additionally know the indicators of a shady device charger.

    3. It won't damage to leave your gadget within the vehicle or outdoors

    extreme warmness and cold will harm each your battery existence and battery wellbeing. I are living in Phoenix, where for the duration of the summer time vehicle interiors can hit a blistering a hundred and sixty levels. Yes, it can be a dry warmness, however so is an oven. Right here, I've seen cell phone batteries swell and be destroyed inside hours .

    In areas the place temperatures dip beneath freezing, your battery will not fare a lot better, and your machine could certainly die if you're attempting to make use of it open air. Of direction, bloodless has different approaches to kill electronics. Be taught maintain bloodless from killing your gadgets.

    When unsure, read the label on the battery or your device's handbook. Or discuss with the machine maker's internet site and seem in the support discipline. The battery will have an most fulfilling working-temperature variety. Hold it in that variety as so much as viable.

    4. Let your battery drain to zero earlier than charging

    in contrast to older Nickel-Cadmium batteries, which had a "memory outcomes" that meant you had to drain them each time, Lithium-ion batteries (the kind in just about every trendy device), shouldn't have that problem. In fact, Li-ion batteries final longest while you hold them between forty% and 80% charged. Additionally, for those who let Li-ion batteries discharge wholly for too long, they can be permanently broken or turn out to be damaging, as I explain right here.

    But Li-ions do have one polarizing venture: The batteries have a developed-in sensor that tells your device how a lot electricity is left within the battery and, over time, that stops matching up with the battery's specific cost. To reset it, you need to cost the Li-ion battery to full, let it run all the way down to the point the place your machine offers you a significant battery warning after which cost it back up to full once more. Nonetheless, this handiest wishes to be carried out every three months or so.

    For some gadgets, you could now not have got to do it in any respect. Apple used to advise this approach but now says it is no longer wanted. Check your device's guide to look if it has any distinctive recommendations.

    5. Invariably shut down your laptop at night time

    This fantasy goes all the means again to the early days of desktops. Back then, pc parts, chiefly difficult drives, wore out much rapid than they do at present. So, the proposal was once that to make your pc last longer, you must at all times shut it down at night. Many people still hold to that idea.

    Of course, contemporary computers have more robust components, which means that that you could allow them to run with little to no challenge. Whether or not you close down your pc nightly now simply comes right down to private selection. If you wish to have your laptop to do things like again up, replace or different intensive tasks, that you would be able to time table them at night at the same time you're not utilising your approach.

    If you are worried about saving energy, flip it off. Or you should utilize one in all your laptop's many vigor-saving modes, that are extra effortless for getting it going once more in the morning.

    Tip in a Tip: If you're pc slows down to a crawl, more often than not a reboot brings it back to normal. And by the way, in case your web connection is slower than average, try turning off each your modem and router for 60 seconds. This on the whole works to speed things up.

    6. More is always higher

    this is a normal myth that tech producers love when you consider that it boosts earnings. However, it isn't always genuine, and normally may also damage you.

    You might be determining between a computing device with a 256 gigabyte solid-state tough power and a 1 terabyte conventional tough drive. A 1TB power is four times larger, but an SSD is much rapid and more secure. Plus, most people not often even fill up a 256GB hard pressure. Click here to be taught more about the advantages of SSDs over traditional drives.

    In a similar way, you shouldn't routinely buy the camera with extra megapixels or the smartphone with the best-resolution display. In a digicam, photo satisfactory is as a lot in regards to the measurement of the image sensor as the number of megapixels. With smartphone screens, after a exact point you are not able to inform the difference in resolution (and most excessive-end and mid-variety smartphones are previous that factor), however a better-resolution monitor burns battery existence faster.

    7. Private shopping is absolutely exclusive

    every web browser has a exclusive mode. When private browsing mode is on, the browser is not going to document where you go and it wipes many of the knowledge any one could use to piece together your on-line travels.

    In web Explorer, Firefox and Safari, you enter exclusive shopping mode using the keyboard shortcut CTRL + SHIFT + P (CTRL + choice + P on Mac). In Chrome, you use CTRL + SHIFT + N (alternative + SHIFT + N on Macs). Click here to learn extra about private shopping and the way you recognize you are in exclusive looking mode.

    What you would not understand is that private shopping is not foolproof. It does not cover your searching from your internet provider supplier, the web sites you talk over with or any law enforcement that happens to be watching. Ditto if there's a logger on the computer or the router is about to report web sites visited. Like most things in tech, personal handiest means that it's harder to seek out. 

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