For years, I would just pick a direction and start running. When I lived out in the country, my friends and coworkers would ask me how far I had gone and I’d say, “Man, I don’t know. Looped out to the third cattle guard and back. Probably at least a half-marathon, if not three-quarters.” The only way I could get an idea was by driving that same route afterwards and watching my odometer (it was about a quarter marathon). I was driving a ‘93 GMC then, though, so even for an odometer it wasn’t very accurate. The same was true when I moved to Brooklyn; I’d pick a direction, run for awhile, take a couple lefts, take a couple rights, and somehow find my way back. The best I could do to tell my distance was look at my watch. If I ran for about an hour, it was a safe guess I’d done around ten miles (okay, maybe somewhere between six and seven.) I had no way to know for sure. That’s not the case anymore. With smart, wearable electronics, now when I go out for a run to the lake and back, I know for certain that I ran 5.25 miles, in 37 minutes and 22 seconds.
Even better, now I can compare my time for the same route on Thursday to my time on Wednesday, and know exactly how much time I added or shaved off. Now that I’ve been wearing my new watch for over a year when I run, I can visualize my fitness trends, with objective, numerical accuracy, in a way that was never possible for me before. I got faster in the spring, a little slower in the summer, much faster around October, and crawled to a stop when the snow hit. Now I can’t wait for spring to come; I know exactly how fast I ran last year, and this year I want to run faster. Wearable technology radically changed my relationship to fitness.
Motivational speakers will tell you the way to achieve a large, nebulous goal is to break it down into a series of small, achievable, measureable steps. Being fit is a large, nebulous goal. What does it even mean to be fit? Without having a clear idea of what your desired destination is, it’s impossible to know the right way to get there. You’re just picking a direction and running. Maybe you’ll get somewhere cool; maybe you won’t. Without knowing really where you’re going, or how to get there, the task begins to seem futile, sisyphean. Without knowing what good it was doing them, many people weren’t feeling good about their fitness. As a result, most people—80%—aren’t meeting the fitness standards assessed by the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition.
With wearable technology tracking progress, however, fitness suddenly became measurable. Future performance could be compared graphically with past performance, and small, achievable goals could be continuously set and met. This gave people the ability to see exactly what they were hoping to accomplish. Instead of reaching forever for some far-off notion of fitness, people could clearly see the next goal to reach. That inspired people to reach it. Once they had it in hand, they reached for the next goal. How wearable technology really helped people was by giving them hope.
Smart, wearable fitness technology is still new to the marketplace, and so it had not yet been possible to conduct comprehensive, long-term studies on its effectiveness. While short-term studies have not noticed a significant gain in overall fitness from wearable electronics users, it remains to be seen what impact their integration into people’s daily routines will have over the course of decades, especially with new technologies and methods being continuously developed. What has been demonstrated, however, is the change in attitudes towards fitness that these technologies have brought about. According to a study conducted by CNN, 91% of the 200 women who participated altered their daily routes to increase their step count and exercise amounts. More importantly, reaching daily targets brought feelings of happiness, self-satisfaction, pride, and motivation to more than 98% of participants. So whether or not people are actually getting healthier thanks to this technology, they’re definitely feeling better about themselves, and their fitness regimens, when they use it. That’s a big difference.
While wearable technology has changed the way Americans feel about their fitness regimens, wearable electronics were originally made possible by advances in printed board design. These improvements allow designers to create dense, flexible, and modular wireless devices. In an expanding and competitive wearable technology ecosystem, not only does the success of a product depend on an innovative idea or use case, it also depends on that company’s ability to make that idea a reality. Efficient printed board layout and cost-effective component sourcing can make the difference between success and failure.
Printed board design is an iterative process; your prototype design will undergo multiple revisions from start to completion and it’s annoying and time-consuming to keep track of each change that is made. The right software can keep track of this so that you don’t have to. In the same way that professional musicians need top quality audio engineering software—Kanye West isn’t using Garageband—professional designers need the best PCB layout software. To learn how Altium can help you make your wearable technology dream a reality, contact us or take a free trial today.
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