Are Currently Available Wearable Devices for Activity Tracking and Heart Rate Monitoring Accurate, Precise, and Medically Beneficial?

Healthc Inform Res. 2015 Oct;21(4):315-20. doi: 10.4258/hir.2015.21.4.315. Epub 2015 Oct 31.


Objectives: The new wave of wireless technologies, fitness trackers, and body sensor devices can have great impact on healthcare systems and the quality of life. However, there have not been enough studies to prove the accuracy and precision of these trackers. The objective of this study was to evaluate the accuracy, precision, and overall performance of seventeen wearable devices currently available compared with direct observation of step counts and heart rate monitoring.

Methods: Each participant in this study used three accelerometers at a time, running the three corresponding applications of each tracker on an Android or iOS device simultaneously. Each participant was instructed to walk 200, 500, and 1,000 steps. Each set was repeated 40 times. Data was recorded after each trial, and the mean step count, standard deviation, accuracy, and precision were estimated for each tracker. Heart rate was measured by all trackers (if applicable), which support heart rate monitoring, and compared to a positive control, the Onyx Vantage 9590 professional clinical pulse oximeter.

Results: The accuracy of the tested products ranged between 79.8% and 99.1%, while the coefficient of variation (precision) ranged between 4% and 17.5%. MisFit Shine showed the highest accuracy and precision (along with Qualcomm Toq), while Samsung Gear 2 showed the lowest accuracy, and Jawbone UP showed the lowest precision. However, Xiaomi Mi band showed the best package compared to its price.

Conclusions: The accuracy and precision of the selected fitness trackers are reasonable and can indicate the average level of activity and thus average energy expenditure.

Keywords: Accuracy; Fitness Trackers; Heart Rate; Precision; Step Counting.

Publication types

  • Case Reports