Activity trackers and smart watches are currently trending. Most of these devices are in the form of wristbands used in conjunction with an app. They are designed to motivate their users to adopt a more active lifestyle by recording their activity profiles and vital signs. If improving your physical fitness is on your agenda and if you are thinking about getting one of these smart little helpers take good note of the tips provided by TÜV SÜD's expert Asli Solmaz-Kaiser below:
Activity trackers and smart watches are offered by manufacturers of athletic equipment as well as mobile phone manufacturers – the choice is almost overwhelming, making it difficult to find the device that ideally suits your needs. “We always recommend that consumers buy activity trackers and smart watches in a specialist shop and ask the sales assistant for in-depth advice and information“, says Solmaz-Kaiser, Head of Electrics and Electronics at TÜV SÜD Product Service. “However, as a general principle, users should always be aware that activity trackers – with a few exceptions – are not suitable for medical or therapeutic purposes but designed exclusively for leisure activities.”
What does the activity tracker have to offer? An activity tracker should actually only respond to actual steps taken and not to hand movements, as this would naturally deliver incorrect results. The GPS information should be as precise as possible to ensure accurate evaluation of the distance covered. Users who do not want to depend on a smart phone for reading out their data need a device with a display. In this case, the display should be scratch-resistant. To ensure the device is convenient to use, potential purchasers should also check the response time after pressing a key, and the brightness of the display backlight.
Service life and handling – two critical factors When choosing an activity tracker users should focus primarily on the battery's life and its running and charging time. After all, even the best activity tracker will be useless if recording of the user's achievements breaks off in the middle of the training session. As far as wearing comfort is concerned, the wristband or smart watch should not be too tight, as this may soon be perceived as annoying or unpleasant. "It is impossible to say which material is best for individual purchasers. However, if you experience itching or redness of the skin while wearing the tracker, take off the device and only use it if and for as long as you do not experience any skin reactions", recommends Solmaz-Kaiser.
The blue TÜV SÜD Octagon provides valuable guidance on the quality of activity trackers and/or smart watches. In accordance with international standards, the certification and test criteria for this certification mark were developed specifically for activity trackers (wristbands/pedometers). The certification mark demonstrates that the device was tested and found to be in compliance with various regulatory thresholds and limits including those for electromagnetic radiation and hazardous substances in materials. Testing also covers other aspects such as radio immunity, water tightness, impact and scratch resistance.