A dedicated focus on getting in shape and building the body’s immunity, as well as managing stress properly, have all driven a surge in the popularity of wearables in the fitness category, tech experts have revealed.
Speaking to Khaleej Times, experts highlighted how the fitness wearables segment saw increasing levels of interest from consumers in the UAE and GCC region, especially during the Covid-19 lockdowns.
“Covid-19 related restrictions made staying active a bit challenging, making it more important for us to focus on our day-to-day health and rebuilding our routines,” said David Amehame, regional sales manager – MEA, Fitbit, Google. “Supporting our users and helping them to stay healthy and active at home, became our top priority. Fitbit’s mission to make everyone in the world healthier was made for this moment and we quickly mobilized and innovated to help.”
He revealed that the company had started offering a free 90 days-trial of Fitbit Premium, and developed the Fitbit Flow - a high-quality, easy-to-use, low-cost emergency ventilator, which received FDA emergency use authorisation for use during the pandemic.
“Over the last 14 years, we’ve sold nearly 136 million Fitbit devices in over 100 countries,” Amehame said. “Today, there are 30 million active Fitbit users and nearly a million paid Fitbit Premium subscribers across the globe. We’ve sold more than 40 million total Fitbit Charge devices since the franchise launched in 2014. Also, we recently announced the launch of Fitbit Charge 5, the most advanced health and fitness tracker. Charge 5 is the product's biggest leap yet, further elevating the tracker our consumers love into our most advanced health and fitness tracker ever.”
According to IDC, sales of wearables are expected to continue to grow and reach nearly 77 million in 2023.
Osman Albora, senior director – Mobile Division, Samsung Gulf Electronics, noted that even before the pandemic, the wearables segment had been growing in popularity for several years due to numerous reasons.
“For instance, the innovations part of the category complemented the latest lifestyle trends and comprised the newest features and technologies from a health and fitness standpoint,” he said. “However, the pandemic elevated this popularity to even greater heights. Long-time consumers aside, the pandemic’s impact on health and well-being also saw new customers turn to wearables.”
Many recognised that these innovations could serve their needs and provide the guidance they required as a perfect lifestyle companion when working out and remaining active, he explained. “This has been emphasized through sales figures that have been recorded. In the UAE, in H1 2021, wearables sales witnessed an increase of 116 per cent compared to H1 2020. The growing movement towards wearables cannot be questioned. Health and fitness have undoubtedly been a major catalyst behind this trend, with people of all ages eager to remain fit and healthy or take steps to become fitter and healthier.”
Awareness regarding physical and mental well-being has also never been higher, he added. “From households through to schools and full-time office environments, people are encouraged to take care of themselves. And perhaps most crucially, wearables are proven to support such efforts through the health-driven features and technologies that accompany them.”
Amehame also shared some insights from a recent survey conducted in the UAE on health, stress, and lifestyle habits in the wake of Covid-19. Results showed that 55 per cent of the UAE respondents are prioritizing their health now more than ever. In addition, 66 per cent of consumers surveyed have experienced a positive change when it comes to their health throughout the pandemic, stating that they have developed healthier personal habits and behaviours.
“Over the past few years, wearables have taken a big leap from just counting steps to utilizing advanced sensors to help you better understand and manage your stress, heart health, and overall well-being,” he said. “As the focus towards health and fitness continues to rise, Fitbit continues to provide a holistic look at how all aspects of your health fit together — activity, sleep, nutrition and mindfulness.”
“Last year, we launched Active Zone Minutes, a new personalized standard for tracking physical activity beyond steps, based on PurePulse heart rate tracking that helps users move more eﬃciently and achieve better overall health,” he added. “This year, with the launch of the first EDA sensor on a tracker in the Charge 5, we have coupled our most advanced sensor technology and algorithms to unlock more information about our bodies and our health so you can be in control.”
Similarly, Albora highlighted how numerous new devices have met the demands and expectations of today’s expanding fitness-first customer base. “For example, the Galaxy Watch4 and Galaxy Watch4 Classic have reshaped the smartwatch experience, with both premium products raising the bar in terms of performance, popularity, and functionality. To ensure users of all ages stay fit and well, the Galaxy Watch4 Series boasts a brand new body composition feature that calculates body fat percentage and muscle mass, presenting users with a better way to assess their current health.”
The series, he explained, also has a BioActive Sensor, which uses a single chip to precisely run three powerful health sensors — Optical Heart Rate, Electrical Heart, and Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis. As a result, users can monitor their blood pressure, detect an irregular heartbeat, and measure their blood oxygen level for health and fitness purposes. Earlier this year, the Samsung Health Monitor app’s availability also ensured Galaxy Watch3 and Galaxy Watch Active2 users could utilize blood pressure and electrocardiogram tracking benefits and remain informed about their health status on to go.
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