Smartphone apps are just as capable of accurately tracking physical activity as fitness trackers and other wearables, a study has found.Researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine and the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics at the University of Pennsylvania equipped 14 participants… with one pedometer, two accelerometers, three wearables and two smartphones running four apps between them each. They then walked on a treadmill for 500 and 1,500 steps twice, and observed the recorded step count.
Data from the smartphones’ apps differed slightly from the observed step count, with a range of -6.7 to 6.2 per cent relative difference in mean step count, compared to the much more varied wearable data, which ranged from -22.7 to -1.5 per cent.
“In this study, we wanted to address one of the challenges with using wearable devices: they must be accurate. After all, if a device is going to be effective at monitoring – and potentially changing – behaviour, individuals have to be able to trust the data,” lead study author Meredith A. Case said. “We found that smartphone apps are just as accurate as wearable devices for tracking physical activity.”
“Since step counts are such an important part of how these devices and apps measure physical activity, including calculating distance or calories burned, their accuracy is key,” said senior author Mitesh S. Patel, assistant professor of Medicine and Health Care Management at the University and an attending physician at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center. … (read more)