The iPhone Proves as Accurate at Measuring Activity as Fitness Wearables

Posted in Accessories, Apple News, iPhone on 11/02/2015 by Chris Hauk

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If you’re looking to track your daily activity, you may not need to buy an expensive fitness tracker, as a new study from  the University of Pennsylvania shows that your iPhone is just as accurate at tracking activity as a dedicated wearable device.

The iPhone Proves as Accurate at Measuring Activity as Fitness Wearables

AppleInsider:

“In this study, we wanted to address one of the challenges with using wearable devices: they must be accurate,” said Penn medical student and lead study author Meredith A. Case, BA. “After all, if a device is going to be effective at monitoring — and potentially changing — behavior, individuals have to be able to trust the data. We found that smartphone apps are just as accurate as wearable devices for tracking physical activity.”

To gather data for the study, researchers equipped 14 subjects with up to 6 wearable devices: a Digi-Walker SW-200 pedometer, the Fitbit Zip and One clip-on trackers and a Flex wristband, Jawbone’s Up24, and the Nike Fuelband. In addition, an iPhone 5s running the Fitbit app, Withings’s Health Mate app, and ProtoGeo Oy’s Moves app was placed in one pocket, while in the other pocket sat a Samsung Galaxy S4 running Moves on Android.

Each participant then walked on a treadmill at 3 miles per hour, twice each for 500 steps and 1,500 steps. The smartphone apps showed a relative difference of -6.7 percent to 6.2 percent difference form the steps the researchers observed the participants taking, while the wearables ranged -22.7 percent to -1.5 percent.

The numbers show the Nike’s Fuelband measurements as off the most, with Jawbone’s Up24 and Fitbit’s Flex showing the second and third-largest deviations. The Fitbit Zip and One were close to perfect.

Apple’s iPhone 5s and iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus all include a motion coprocessor which constantly tracks a user’s motion and steps, and feeds the data to the built-in iOS 8 Health app. A number of apps in the App Store also access this same data.

Apple’s soon to be released Apple Watch also includes a built-in accelerometer, and will have the capability to track steps and body movement.


  • Steve

    Funny, I wear a fitbit one in the silicon clip/sleeve in the same pocket I keep my iPhone 6 in all day an they are WILDLY different. Some days the fitbit says I walked 12K+ steps while the phone says I only did 8K, and floors can be off by a multiple of 2 or 3 as well.

Author

Chris Hauk

MacTrast Senior Editor, and self-described "magnificent bastard," Chris Hauk owns Phoenix Rising Services and writes for everyone's favorite "bad movie" website, Big Bad Drive-In.

His first Apple product was an iPod Classic 9 years ago, and he has since added a MacBook Pro, a number of iPads, iPhones, and multiple Apple TVs to his collection.

He lives somewhere in the deep Southern part of America. Yes, he has to pump in both sunshine and the Internet.