Nivedit Majumdar Nivedit Majumdar

Quantified Self on the Wrist

We are stepping into a lifestyle centric era, where everything needs to be monitored to improve the overall health pattern. This particular change in mindset has been the driving force behind the popularisation of concept such as the Quantified Self, Context and the Qualified Self. Most of these concepts come under the larger term of Lifelogging.

Perhaps the biggest indicator of the growth of the Quantified Self has been evident through the sheer growth in the number of wearable tracking devices. We’ve discussed about these in details, in our articles on the Social Impact of Wearables and Fitness Technology becoming more powerful by the day.

But in this article, I narrow my focus down to mainly the segment pertaining to the wearables on the wrist. Activity trackers, smart bands and smart watches are coming in vogue, with more and more OEMs gearing up to launch their wearable line. And this is the crux of my article: How wearables on the wrist can make it big for the Quantified Self Movement.



Smartwatches by themselves are pretty popular and have quite a few tricks up their sleeve. Right from syncing with your mobile device, getting updates from social media, performing basic actions such as texting or simple Google searches – all this is now possible right from your wrist without the need of taking the mobile out.

But the health and activity monitoring and tracking market is turning out to be the more emerging one. Health bands and trackers generally come bundled with functions which help to monitor and analyse the data from a person’s life. Right from tracking the number of steps taken, to heart rate, calorie intake, blood pressure and even cerebral activity: all this can be measured right from the wrist, thanks to the advancements in sensor technology.


In this regard, there are quite a few players out there. We have the usual suspects: Fitbit, Jawbone and Nike. But besides these, many more companies have propped up, including major sportswear giants.

In fact, here is a statistic showing the shipment of wearable computing devices worldwide by category from 2013 to 2015. The largest numbers evidently belong to the segment of sports and activity trackers, which again proves my point of how this segment is truly booming.

(Data Source: Statista)

Besides sports companies, however, there are also quite a few medical equipment manufacturers in the wearable market. Omron, Ybrain and a lot more companies which were already in the business of producing thermometers and blood pressure monitors are taking the leap forward in manufacturing health and activity trackers.


• Starting off with the most relevant statistic in favour of wrist wearables. IDC’s analysts predict that the worldwide wearable device shipments will grow from 19.6 million units in 2014 to 45.7 million this year and reach 126.1 million units by 2019.

(Data Source: IDC)

But more interestingly, the market’s growth will be fuelled almost exclusively by smart watches and wrist-worn fitness trackers, which are expected to account for 9 in 10 wearables shipped this year. Which is pretty amazing!

• Even in smartwatches, the most wanted feature is activity tracking. Wrist wearables have the advantage of not hindering the person’s activities, and at the same time helping the person monitor the movements closely. Taking hints from this trend, most OEMs are incorporating the functions of activity tracking and heart rate measurement right into the smartwatch.

(Image Source: Statista)

• Finally, a quantifiable proof of the popularity of wrist wearables can be measured from the amount of data that they generate. This is a graph for the global wearable data traffic in petabytes per month. It is estimated to land at 33 petabytes per month in this year, and this number is expected to grow to astronomical proportions!

(Data Source: Statista)


Long story short, wrist wearables and activity trackers are definitely growing in popularity. With the added advantage of sensors becoming smaller in size and becoming cheaper too, the wearables can be more compact and non hindering to the user, which makes them more comfortable to wear around the wrist!

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