Smart Watches and Fitness Trackers in Health Care

by Faramarz Dorani

History of Smart-watches

Smart-watches and fitness wearables are effectively computers that bring functionalities well beyond time keeping. Smart-watches can track health data such as heart rate, steps count, distance walking, sleep hours, answer phone calls and send text messages.

Modern smart-watches were kicked off with Pebble’s Kickstarter in 2012, Pebble was recently purchased by FitBit. The same year, Nike+ Fuelband and Sony SmartWatch entered into the market. After that Samsung Gear and Apple watch were announced in 2013 and 2015 respectively. Nowadays, there are many smart watches available on the market [1,2].

Wearable’s for health research:

Smart-watches can measure health data such as heart rate, steps count, distance walking, and sleep hours.

Smart-watches are a rapidly growing field of health research, that are being supported by major technology companies. For example, HealthKit is a feature of Apple’s iOS, that was introduced with iOS 8. HealthKit manages the syncing of health and fitness data between apps, including the HealthDataCollector app we are developping and Apple’s own Health app. However, the question is how these data could be used for health improvements and disease treatment.

Comparison of accuracy of smart watches:

In the Ashley Lab at Stanford University, an experiment was conducted to assess accuracy of seven wrist-worn devices in estimating heart rate and energy expenditure. The intention is to develop a framework for unbiased validation of fitness trackers.

The devices tested were Apple Watch, Basis Peak, Fitbit Surge, Microsoft Band, Mio Alpha 2, PulseOn, and Samsung Gear S2. The persons in this study were wearing devices and at the same time the health data was being collected by continuous telemetry and indirect calorimetry. The data were collected for four situations: sitting, walking, running, and cycling. The results of this study show that the Apple Watch achieved the lowest overall error in both heart rate and energy expenditure, while the Samsung Gear S2 reported the highest error [3].

Using Smart-watches in Heart Research

The Ashley Lab also focuses on genomic studies specifically on cardiovascular behaviors. “MyHeart Counts” app is another project which tracks daily activities of users in helping them to monitor the heart behavior. Results from this app has shown that people who have more activities have less tendency to diabetes.

More information about Ashley Lab is available at:

Using Wearable Technology to Advance Parkinson’s Research

This is joint project of Intel and the Michael J. Fox Foundation for curing Parkinson’s disease (PD). The technology is a wrist-worn devices which is built by the Intel and a mobile application which is installed on phone to communicate and share data.

Intel has developed several algorithms including activity level, tremor, nighttime tracking, and gait detection for these devices. After data acquisition, the raw data is interpreted with algorithms.  The results of these algorithms are used to make conclusion on the Parkinson’s behavior and help people manage the disease.

Future of using devices for health research

Now that the availability of smart-watches and fitness wearables is growing up, there would be an abundance of health and fitness data. These data pertain to the behavior of a person’s daily activity which are very informative. These devices and their data collection approach have recently brought new topics in health care such as Patient Monitoring, and Big Data. Doctors and physicians use these devices to monitor patient’s activities to understand their health behavior and help make patients healthier. Moreover, the stacked health data could be explored by big data techniques to reveal the underlying patterns or a person’s activities to make suggestions in respect to his/her health.



  3. Shcherbina, Anna, et al. “Accuracy in wrist-worn, sensor-based measurements of heart rate and energy expenditure in a diverse cohort.” Journal of personalized medicine 7.2 (2017): 3.
  4. Using Wearable Technology to Advance Parkinson’s Research, Intel and the Michael J. Fox Foundation collaborate on a Parkinson’s research solution using wearable technology, Intel algorithms, Big Data analytics, and the Cloudera distribution of Hadoop.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>