The adoption of wearables may begin to be driven by employers, rather than individuals themselves.
An actual return on investment has been calculated for an organization using wearables as part of its health and wellness program and there is a difference between those actively using wearables and others who do not.
Compared to employees not using wearables in the program, employees using wearables cost $1,000 less on average for a company.
This is based on a three-year study just released from Springbuk, which was conducted in a large company in the healthcare industry using Fitbit fitness trackers tied into a central dashboard.
More than 22,000 users were studied, most (79%) of whom were women with an average age of 46, and the goal was to determine the financial impact of using wearables as a part of an overall wellness strategy.
The highest potential for cost savings occurs at 6,638 steps, lower than the popular 10,000 daily step goal, according to Phil Daniels, co-founder and vice president of Springbuk.
“It's encouraging for employers to know that they can incentivize and motivate their workforce to get active at these levels,” Daniels told the IoT Daily.
“In other words, it makes wellness feel more attainable for the employer and individual. For the sedentary worker who may feel 10,000 steps is out of reach, we now have findings to suggest that less steps still is tied to health and cost outcomes.”
Of users who were around the 6,500 steps-per-day mark, the average associated healthcare cost for them was 59% lower than similarly active employees without a wearable.
Employees received subsidies to purchase fitness trackers and then could compete against others in the organization in activity metrics, such as step count.
The cost of users who used their wearables for more than 50% of the study period was 54% of the cost of other employees
The study also utilized competition among employees to motivate activity by tying all of the stats into a centralized leaderboard.
“There is a ‘network effect’ of having peer challenges, team support, etc. for activity, and wearables are a great conduit for that,” Daniels told the Daily.
“There's also a consumer coolness factor to wearable technology, which helps foster employee excitement for their employer to provide/subsidize devices as part of the worksite health initiative.”
Outside of corporate uses, wearable brands are shifting to individualized coaching and competition on a personal level.
Fitbit recently launched its Adventure Challenges, which are designed to encourage activity by connecting consumers’ step counts with a virtual tour of remote destinations through the Fitbit app on their smartphone.
That initiative is specifically aimed at consumers who don’t want to compete with others, but want the motivation for increasing physical activity, according to Fitbit.
Under Armour is also focusing on individually-tailored fitness recommendations and motivation through its Connected Fitness platform. The brand has teamed up with IBM’s Watson to create its Cognitive Coaching offering, which uses AI and machine learning to deliver personalized fitness recommendations in real time to consumers based on their activity, lifestyle, and goals.