HealthConnections: What to Know About Wearable Health Devices

Dec 15, 2020

The beginnings of wearable health technology date to an experimental step counter invented in Japan in the mid-1960s. Some watches were able to keep tabs on heartbeats in the 1980s. But the current boom in wearable health monitors was spurred by the development of smaller, faster devices.

Since debuting in the 2010s, the current generation of wearable health trackers, such as FitBit and Apple watches, have become very popular. FitBit reports it sold 16 million units in 2019. In the same year, 31 million Apple watches were sold. And there are many others on the market. Now, some of these devices probably get ignored after the novelty wears off, but many of them become a routine link to one's exercise and a barometer of basic health statistics, such as heart rate.

But as with any consumer product, not all wearables or apps are created equal. In this edition of HealthConnections, the University of Tennessee's Dr. Tami Wyatt tells you what wearables are all about, how secure your health data are, and how to pick the best device for your needs. Dr. Wyatt speaks with HealthConnections creator Dr. Carole Myers.