Parks: 5 percent of US broadband households use a health tracking smart watch

By Aditi Pai
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Five percent of US broadband households use a smart watch that offers health and fitness tracking features, according to research firm Parks Associates.

Parks also found that 8 percent of US broadband households use a digital pedometer or activity tracker.

Parks Associates’ research analyst Tejas Mehta pointed out that unless smartwatch makers can convince consumers that these devices offer features separate from their smartphone, they won't see adoption.

“Though increased adoption of smartphones is fueling the mobile revolution that includes wearable devices, consumers' all-encompassing desire to use smartphones in all aspects of their lives is creating a dilemma for wearable OEMs,” Mehta said in a statement. “In the case of smart watches, these devices are regularly marketed as companion or ‘tethered’ smart products. Companies need to rally consumer interest in smart watches by educating them on the unique experiences and benefits of these and other wearables. Otherwise, the majority of consumers may not see the reason to purchase another device that has similar, if not the same, capabilities as their smartphone.”

Another Parks Associates report, from the fourth quarter of 2014, found that 7 percent of US broadband households use a GPS watch to track a wearer’s location and 5 percent use a sports watch with a built-in heart rate monitor. The research firm estimates that by 2016, more than 32 million US consumers will actively track their personal health and fitness online or via mobile and by 2018, US sales of digital health devices and services will exceed $8 billion.

Earlier this month, Parks released a report that found more than 40 million US smartphone owners are active users of at least one wellness or fitness app. The firm has also reported that one in four heads of household — at homes with broadband — use a mobile app to track their fitness or track their caloric intake.

A few months prior, the research firm published research that estimated 41 percent of caregivers in broadband homes used some kind of digital health device. And 8 percent use some kind of online tool to coordinate their efforts.