Kane McKenna is wearables analyst at CCS Insight. In this series, he shares his research on the wearables industry.
We’ve seen wearables tackle heart rate tracking, recovery metrics, and sleep scores – but what we eat could be the next focus.
Nutrition is an area where wearables still have some space to develop. While smartwatches have made inroads with heart rate and tracking of health conditions, we still find that almost half of the owners would like future devices to do more.
At CCS Insight, we found that 10% of smartwatch owners place diet as their highest priority. There are already third-party apps like MyFitnessPal and Lifesum available on app stores that allow users to track their diet, but I think there's space for this to go a lot further.
The data that companies like Fitbit, Apple, and Samsung have access to give food delivery services significant opportunities to suggest tailored guidance on how users can achieve their nutrition goals.
There's a precedent for this; we've already seen firms try and be more proactive in suggesting changes to users' exercise and sleep habits, based on personal data.
Tap for protein shakes
I expect that the next area of progress will be in providing greater dietary guidance for users of wearables.
For example, after a heavy-duty training session, a high-protein meal could be suggested — and integration between a health platform and a food delivery app could mean that it's just a few taps away. For smartwatches with payment capabilities, the process is even easier.
The way we buy food has gone through a radical change in recent years.
Online shopping for everyday groceries has been around for some time but saw a massive spike in the pandemic; more recently, we've witnessed the meteoric rise of almost-instant grocery delivery companies like Getir and Gorillas, complementing established meal delivery offerings from Deliveroo and Uber Eats.
The possibilities extend to suggesting food and drink items proactively.
Smartwatch brands like Samsung and Apple have access to users' calendars; in the run-up to an event like a race, carbohydrate-heavy meals could be suggested to ensure the best performance possible.
Energy gels and bars could also be added to a shopping list for in-race refuelling.
Waiting for blood glucose tracking
The persistent rumors about glucose monitoring being included on upcoming watches tie into this possibility.
And indeed, when the feature eventually arrives, the link between our health-tracking wearables, and suggestions about what we eat will be inextricably linked.
This will be a game-changer for suffers from diabetes, but also for those who just want to maintain a steady blood sugar level.
Indeed, CCS Insight's most recent survey found that 43% of those who haven't yet bought a smartwatch could be persuaded to buy one if it'd help with their diet.
It would cement wearables as a tool for weight loss, not just through promoting more exercise, but a better diet as well. The idea of being able to tailor insights to your personal feedback could be extremely powerful.
Regardless of the specific implementation, smartwatch manufacturers are looking to do more with the data they track, and we believe the next frontier is nutrition.
Providing more detailed and tailored insights is the hot trend in the wearables sector now, and better diet guidance could be an important part of the recipe for users seeking to achieve their goals.
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