On-device Heart Rate Monitoring is the Number One Feature of Activity Trackers

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In Q2 2016 more than 44 percent of activity trackers owned in the U.S. included a heart monitor, up from just 12 percent a year ago, according to the latest NPD Connected Intelligence report

With the recent addition of GPS on devices like the Apple Watch Series 2, consumers will come to expect this convenience and we will see over time the addition of GPS to more mid-tier devices.

While overall activity tracker ownership continues to see growth, up more than 11 million devices in Q2 2016 compared to the year prior, the most substantial growth in the category can be seen in the number of devices that now include built-in heart rate monitors. In fact, by Q2 2016 the number of owned activity trackers that included heart rate monitors grew to nearly half (over 44 percent), from just 12 percent a year prior, according to The NPD Group Connected Intelligence Wearables Industry Overview and Forecast.

The new report examines the current view of U.S. activity tracker ownership and sales, including features of these devices that are most widely adopted currently. The report also forecasts future ownership numbers for both the activity tracker and smartwatch segments through Q2 2018.

While it’s clear that heart rate monitors have emerged as the must-have feature in high-end and mid-tier activity trackers, on-device GPS is also beginning to experience slightly stronger growth – albeit at much lower numbers than heart rate monitors. As of Q2 2016, just seven percent of activity tracker ownership was made up of devices that featured on-device GPS or on-device GPS with heart rate monitoring. This lower lever of adoption is driven in part by the cost of adding more hardware features, but more importantly by the fact that many activity tracker owners can access GPS by tethering their device to their smartphone. This capability has made on-device GPS much less important than heart rate monitoring to-date; however, the addition of on-device GPS in the new Apple Watch Series 2 will likely drive activity tracker and smartwatch vendors to include this feature in more models over the next year.

“Much like heart rate monitoring functionality became a must-have for the mass market consumer, we expect that on-device GPS capabilities will follow,” said Weston Henderek, director, Connected Intelligence. “With the recent addition of GPS on devices like the Apple Watch Series 2, consumers will come to expect this convenience and we will see over time the addition of GPS to more mid-tier devices.”

Methodology
The results of the NPD Group Connected Intelligence Wearables Survey are based on consumer panel research that reached 5,000 U.S. consumers, aged 18+ from diverse regions and demographical backgrounds. They reported on awareness, ownership, and intent to own various wearable devices. Additionally, consumers with awareness were asked follow up details including the features and functions that they expect to see in these devices. Several questions in the report were also fielded using Civic Science. Civic Science provides the leading intelligent polling and real-time insights platform, partnering with hundreds of premier websites to survey millions of people daily. Its proprietary technology rapidly analyzes consumer opinions, discovers real-time trends, and accurately predicts market outcomes. This service is used to examine consumer attitudes towards activity trackers and smart watches, as well as emerging wearable technology.

About Connected Intelligence
Connected Intelligence provides competitive intelligence and insight on the rapidly evolving consumer’s connected environment. The service focuses on the three core components of the connected market: the device, the broadband access that provides the connectivity and the content that drives consumer behavior. These three pillars of the connected ecosystem are analyzed through a comprehensive review of what is available, adopted, and consumed by the customer, as well as reviewing how the market will evolve over time and what the various vendors can do to best position themselves in this evolving market. For more information: http://www.connected-intelligence.com.

About The NPD Group, Inc.
The NPD Group provides market information and business solutions that drive better decision-making and better results. The world’s leading brands rely on us to help them get the right products in the right places for the right people. Practice areas include apparel, appliances, automotive, beauty, consumer electronics, diamonds, e-commerce, entertainment, fashion accessories, food consumption, foodservice, footwear, home, mobile, office supplies, retail, sports, technology, toys, video games, and watches / jewelry. For more information, visit npd.com. Follow us on Twitter: @npdgroup

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Megan Scott
The NPD Group
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