Wearable tech: 7 tips to create an engaging device

May 7, 2020 Corporate Blog

by Katherine Shilova

After launching your wearable device with high hopes and initial user frenzy, you’re subsequently disappointed to find that it has died down. This is a common story for many wearable products.

To illustrate, Endeavour Partners found that about a third of activity tracker users abandoned the tracker within 6 months. Without a doubt, many wearable users find their devices underwhelming or even useless.

For instance, a Fast Company article had this to say about the Apple Watch: “In terms of utility, it’s hard to use, and not solving meaningful problems.”
With all this in mind, how can your company build the right hardware and software to help users live healthier lives, and increase engagement and retention rates of your wearables?
Here are 7 vital tips to keep in mind.

1. Provide more accurate analytics

Whether a wearable user is trying to burn more calories or track their blood sugar level, they expect accurate metrics.

Unfortunately, inaccuracy is a big problem. In a Stanford University study, fitness trackers were found to incorrectly measure energy expenditure by 27% to 93%. “People are basing life decisions on the data provided by these devices,” said Euan Ashley, the lead author.

Wearable hardware and software should be built to provide accurate health metrics to the users. As a result, your consumers can be more engaged and have information that will help them make the right decisions for a healthier lifestyle.

2. Interpret health measurements to deliver insights

Without interpretation, numbers on wearables are just numbers. A health professional can understand them, but what of the average user?

A large percentage of current and potential wearable users (especially those with chronic health conditions) need these insights. For example, a Pew Foundation survey revealed that 40% of adults with one chronic condition track their health indicators and 62% of adults with two conditions do likewise.

Beyond tracking chronic conditions, wearables can also predict conditions through user data. For instance, Fitbit launched a study with Stanford University using trained algorithms to find early signs of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

“We think wearables have a really strong value proposition to add, both to detect, as well as help to track and contain infectious diseases like COVID-19,” says Amy McDonough, Senior Vice President, Fitbit Health Solutions. Undoubtedly, this has the potential to save hundreds of lives through early detection.

Your device needs to take accurate numbers and turn them into valuable insights according to each user’s needs. This turns your wearable device from just a screen full of numbers to a mobile health information system.

3. Employ gamification

If all a wearable user sees are numbers and more numbers, the device can get boring. Thus, it will be less likely to encourage actions that can improve the user’s health.
Fortunately, gamification can take the bore out of a wearable device and encourage users to engage in more healthy activities. According to research by Taeho Kim, “a gamified wearable device will motivate individuals to exercise willingly on a regular basis, which can be developed to help the Healthcare industry, especially for patients in long term rehabilitation.”


Adding gamification tools such as virtual badges and rewards at different milestones can encourage users to increase their activity. This makes it easier for users to engage with your wearable device.

4. Engage the community

For any wearable to become popular among its intended users, you have to build and engage the community around it. From the research stage, you need to explain users’ needs and how features of your device can meet those needs.

According to Autumn Saxton-Ross, “It’s crucial to use this technology as a way to increase engagement between communities whether it’s a physical location or folks suffering from the same condition.”

To achieve this, you can create a blog or forum to provide valuable content about the conditions your device will help users control. Also, you can host events at different locations to educate users about the ways your device can help them with their condition.

5. Provide exercise and diet recommendations according to health metrics

Two of the most important aspects of health are exercise and diet. But often, people can get confused about the type and amount of exercise (or food) to engage in (or eat).

In reality, the right exercise and diet differ for each person. Wearables with the ability to provide these recommendations will encourage their users to improve their health.

According to a study published in BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation, “cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) improved to a greater extent in participants using wearable physical activity monitoring (WPAM) devices with exercise prescription or advice compared with controls.”

When you build your device, think about the types of exercise and diets that can help users achieve their health goals. Your wearable should be able to provide the right recommendations depending on the user’s health status and goals.

6. Adjust alert notifications for emergent cases

Complications of chronic conditions such as hypertension or diabetes can lead to death. Fortunately, highly accurate wearables with FDA approval can prevent this through alert notifications.
In situations where a user needs urgent medical attention, wearables can alert their physician, family members or caregivers.

Also, hospitals can cope better with emergency treatments. Dr. Joseph Kvedar, Vice President at Connected Health at Partners Healthcare System, had this to say about wearables and remote monitoring: “You can monitor many different individuals and reach out to the patients who need your help at any given point in time. It improves efficiency in that way.”

Alerts are also vital for industrial workers. For instance, wearables make it easier to detect high levels of stress in a worker or when a worker is involved in an accident. Creating a robust alert system will help your wearable users in situations that may be out of their control. To illustrate, Rombit helps essential workers keep social distance during the COVID-19 pandemic with an app that vibrates when two workers get too close to each other.

7. Provide strong software support

Users will want to know how to use their device to get the data they need.

To give them that, you need staff who understand your device’s hardware and software, user experience and API, data science and numerous integrations. Your team members will need to provide timely information to consumers on how to track important health metrics and draw valuable insights.

Conclusion

Of what use is a wearable device that users rush to buy and then abandon? It’s useless both to you as a manufacturer and to the consumers who spend their hard-earned money on it.
Fortunately, by increasing their engagement, users can improve their health and derive real value from your wearable device.

Keep these 7 tips in mind to improve your wearable’s hardware and software for better engagement. In turn, your company will widen its market share and attract satisfied users, who might become ambassadors of your brand.