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Why does the data from different health and exercise trackers vary so much?

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On our most recent IoT Podcast, Vipul called in to our voicemail hotline with a question about fitness trackers. He has a few wearables and observes that there’s a wide variance between their results for steps taken and calories burned. He also noticed that Google Fit shows double the calories burned as compared to the trackers that he wears. Vipul wants to know if we’ve noticed these discrepancies and why he’s seeing them.

When it comes to the different wearable brands and devices such as the Apple Watch, Fitbit, Garmin, and others, it’s important to remember that each uses different sensors and different algorithms to calculate information from the sensor data. In other words, there will likely always be variances in the results. 

I tend to use Garmin devices and software over Google Fit

We’ve seen this firsthand recently as Stacey has been testing the Whoop fitness band and the Amazon Halo. The reported health and exercise data between the two is consistently different.

Having said that, our recommendation would be to pick one brand or device and focus more on the trends rather than the individual data points.

And keep in mind that whichever device you use to track calories burned, if you want the complete picture, you’ll want to track your caloric intake as well. I’ve personally used the MyFitnessPal app in the past for this but there are plenty of capable options available.

Given that Vipal mentioned Google Fit, I presume he’s an Android user.

I’ve tried Google Fit several times over the years and have never had a positive experience. Aside from the data issues Vipal mentioned, I’ve had problems getting accurate device data to sync to my Google Fit account, for example. Perhaps the issues I’ve seen have been resolved, as it’s been a least a year since I last looked at the app. And I have high hopes that Google Fit software is improved immensely if Google’s acquisition of Fitbit is approved.

One more thing. Before I buy any wearable device for health tracking, I immediately had to the DCRainmaker site.

It’s a site that started in 2007 and is run by Ray Maker. Ray is an avid athlete who maintains high ethical standards by not accepting products or travel from device makers. And he provides the most comprehensive data on device tracking accuracy that I’ve ever seen. If you’re looking for the most accurate wearables, DCRainmaker is the place to go for information.

The Fitbit Inspire HR didn’t track heart rate nearly as good as devices from Garmin and Polar in Ray’s tests

To hear Vipul’s question in full, as well our discussion on the topic, tune in to the IoT Podcast below:

 

The post Why does the data from different health and exercise trackers vary so much? appeared first on Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis.

Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis


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