Forgive me for making an endorsement, but with a caveat: I love my Fitbit, wear it every post-heart-attack day to make sure my heart isn’t getting out of control. I trust it with my life.

However, as Ronald Reagan once told the Evil Empire” “Trust, but verify.”

So, I keep a daily log of my exercise metrics separate from what my wristband says. If I ever detect inconsistencies, you can bet I will either find out what’s wrong – or buy a more trustworthy wearable. (For example, see the WRAL techWire post about a new personalized weather app via a wearable.)

Thus I was hardly surprised by the findings of a new survey from Raleigh startup Valencell about the state of wearables today.

If you own a “wearable” technology device or you are thinking about buying one, the accuracy of the data these “smart” devices deliver is the most important buying-and-using factor, reports the biometric sensor company and a trade association group conducted the survey. After all, what good is a watch that can’t keep time and a wearable that can’t track steps or calories accurately?

Some 706 U.S. consumers between the ages of 18 and 65 were surveyed by Valencell and the MEMS & Sensors Industry Group, a trade association focused on Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS). Wearables were defined as “a device, clothing and/or accessories incorporating computer and advanced electronic technologies.” Valencell has emerged as a leader in the mobile biometrics field, having secured numerous patents and landed numerous industrial customers. (It’s also involved in litigation with Apple and Fitbit.)

Of those surveyed, 42 percent already own a wearable. Of those, 63 percent say accuracy is highly important.

Bling or health?

Frankly, I’m surprised the percentage regarding accuracy as important isn’t 100 percent. Why else wear one?

My Fitbit is basic black … hardly glamorous jewelry. (Bling and ugly me don’t mix.)

Among non-wearable owners, 74 percent of would-be buyers say accuracy would be important.

Really? You’d buy a wearable just to look like yo TRY to keep fit?

Those surveyed also said they would like to see more data beyond steps, heart rate, calories burned and such.

I want blood pressure measurement on my next wearable – but I will only be able to wear it when I’m not on the job (i.e. WRAL TechWire. The measurements would be too scary and life-threatening. Ditto for stress management.)

This survey should be of interest to any firm involved with wearables, and the Triangle is a hotbed for wearables research. FokusLabs in Wake Forest is measuring attentiveness, for apps for use in life science. Durham-based Validic is ALL about mobile health data.

Inside the survey

Here are some of the takeaways from the survey:

  • 42% of survey respondents own or have owned a wearable
  • Of those who own a wearable, 52% own a wristband, 36% earbuds and 32% a smartwatch
  • 42% purchased the wearable to track overall activity and 28% purchased to manage weight
  • 63% of all respondents ranked accuracy as a highly important (critical) feature, followed by comfort (57%) and battery life (47%)
  • 73% of all respondents believe that accuracy in wearable technology will one day be able to directly affect your health
  • 80% of wearables owners feel that their wearable has positively impacted their health
  • More than 65% of respondents who do not own wearables would consider using one if it provided significant information on their health, including things like blood pressure, stress, and heart health
  • 74% of respondents who do not own wearables would consider using one if accuracy in wearables was able to help them better manage their health

What additional features do people want from wearables:

  • 55% would like to monitor stress
  • 48% would like to monitor hydration
  • 46% would like to monitor blood pressure
  • 38% would like to monitor sunlight/UV exposure
  • 35% would like to monitor key vitamin and supplement levels

What do people not like and therefore stop using a wearable?

  • 40% Too much of a hassle to continually recharge
  • 29% Not accurate enough (didn’t trust the readings)
  • 26% Uncomfortable to wear
  • 24% Did not provide continually interesting insights

Exploding popularity

Wearables are becoming increasingly popular. Research firm IDC forecasts sales of so-called wearables to hit 101.9 million by the end of the year compared to 79 million in 2015.

Wristbands such as Fitbit remain the most popular, but that trend will change, IDC reports.

Smart watches led by Apple, Moto and others will reach nearly 42 million in sales this year, up from 31.9 million year-over-year.

Wristbands lead as they did a year ago with projected shipments of 51.4 million, up from 39.6 million.

But in talking about the survey, Valencell president and co-founder Dr. Steven LeBoeuf said consumers must be able to trust their devices to be accurate.

“These survey results are testament to Valencell’s view that accurate and interesting insights are critical to the success of the wearable industry, and are the biggest drivers of growth today,” he said.

“More consumers than ever before are looking to biometric wearables to monitor their health and fitness, and wearables that cannot be trusted for accuracy will ultimately lose-out to wearables that have been properly validated.”

Read more at:

Consumer Survey on Wearables