Event Predicts Trends in Fitness Technology

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If all the new Fitbits, Zombie running and diet-tracking apps in the world haven't helped you lose weight, get fit or stay healthier overall, you're not alone. Many health-related devices and tech tools just don't cut it.

The good news? According to the more than two dozen experts who took part in SXSW's Future/Fitevent in Austin, the "right" tools are on the way. Here are the top three emerging tech trends to look forward to this year and beyond.

Social IRL

"People are so hungry for connection, all the tech in the world is pointless if it's not building relationships," said author and fitness guru Robin Arzon. "Community is what keeps people in the workout. Community is what keeps people coming back."

Tech to expect: Online communities that build and nurture meaningful relationships. What will that look like? More engaging content, interaction and ways to work out with other people, even if they're halfway across the world. Current examples include: Peloton Cycle, the home fitness start-up that builds indoor exercise bikes with built-in streaming classes, competition and motivation; gadgets with real-time coaching such as Lumo Run.

A healthy mind

"The most prevalent disease in America today is not cancer or heart disease," said Jeff Krasno, CEO of Wanderlust, which puts on yoga festivals. "It's loneliness."

According to a new Adidas wellness poll (Adidas was also the title sponsor of the entire Future/Fit event), nine out of every 10 people agree that when they feel "right in mind," they tend to be more active.

Tech to expect: Meditation and mindfulness will go much more mainstream this year. Already available tech tools such as Spire and the Breathe app will continue urging you to slow down, relax and help combat stress and anxiety.

Making it personal

Another big topic of conversation among the experts was a tendency for gadgets and tech tools to treat every person the same is a major flaw. The fix? Utilizing artificial intelligence, smarter data collection and an array of privacy tools to create a "health identity" similar to the way Facebook amasses your social identity or LinkedIn curates your work life.

Tech to expect: Gadgets and tools that emphasize customization and individuality. Before long, we'll have workout and wellness tracking that's catered to each of us, rather than a cookie cutter model of generic human health. That could look as crazy as a medical "mood ring" of sorts that takes emotions into account, or a series of devices that turn your master bathroom into a wired wonderland for health tracking.

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April 11, 2017


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