raining detected. Hold on!’ Even cycling home from the train station turns into a performance with a smartwatch on your wrist. The number of steps you take, your heart rate, how many calories you burn: from now on your lifestyle will be expressed in hard numbers.
The promise of the smartwatch was that it would be an extension of the phone. A central control center on the wrist, where WhatsApp messages and notifications from apps come in and you can control Spotify. Still, today’s smartwatch success cannot be seen in isolation from the health craze: wanting to measure everything from steps to stress levels.
Since the Apple Watch came out in 2014, smartwatches have been on the rise. In the second quarter of 2019, according to market researcher Strategy Analytics, 12.3 million smartwatches were sold worldwide, 44 percent more than a year earlier. By far, the market leader is Apple, which accounts for almost half of its sales.
To what extent are smartwatches a useful addition to your life today? We tested three new ones: the Apple Watch Series 5, the Huawei Watch GT2 and the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2.
If you hardly move a fin at the weekend, it immediately becomes mercilessly clear. There are daily amounts of steps to take and activity goals to achieve: enough activity (measured with heart rate increases), enough times to get up (self-explanatory) and enough training (such as cycling and brisk walking). Every now and then you get a reminder: maybe it’s time for a walk?
The Apple Watch takes it a step further; with 449 euros, it is by far the most expensive watch of the bunch. You can make heart videos with it, in addition, it has a decibel meter, which warns against harmful noise. It can also keep track of menstrual cycles and give an indication of the fertile period.
A healthier life?
Whether such watches can actually contribute to a healthier lifestyle, investigated exercise therapist Thea Kooiman, who obtained her doctorate on this subject from Hanze University Groningen. For example, she hung test subjects on different types of pedometers and counted how many steps they took by the hand and with a validated measuring system. All turned out to be quite accurate.
According to Kooiman, a similar study on heart rate measurements also yields a lot of devices, although it varies by brand and heart rate monitors around the chest remain the most reliable. Of course, the three new watches have not yet been subjected to such research.