No matter what your reason for wanting to get out and about, fitness and outdoor sports are becoming a huge new market. With new technologies emerging, we’ve taken a look at the ways to upgrade your wearable tech products this year.

About Wearable Technology

Wearable technology products offer a unique opportunity for those who like to get out for an everyday adventure to easily access to a range of useful and exciting features in a lightweight, portable device.

Whether you’re looking for your first smart watch, or you’re looking to exchange your old device for something with new features – the world of wearable technology continues to evolve rapidly. With a quick glance of a watch screen, it’s now possible to access a huge amount of instant data – from sports performance monitoring, to position and location tracking. With a brief flick through a features menu, it’s easier to stay on track and navigate when walking, cycling, or exploring the great outdoors as well as keeping in touch with friends on social media or through the smart notifications from your phone.

What to Look Out For?

Gone are the days of wearable technology devices being bulky and unfashionable. There are huge brands now creating elegantly and ergonomically designed pieces that fit perfectly for every taste and budget. Standalone, they are stylish, functional and impressive – as well as fitting perfectly alongside your other sports or outdoor adventure gear – these items will become integral over the coming years.

Man in a grey hoodie holding the black leather seat of a bicycle, wearing a black smartwatch that shows a clock face

Advanced Heart Rate Monitoring

Replacing the old standard for monitoring heart rate, a watch is much better placed for comfort than any chest mounted accessory. A number of the latest sports watches now feature highly accurate wrist heart rate monitors which work by measuring heart rate optically from the wrist, and relaying this information in real time on the screen.

To explain this further, optical heart rate sensors on the underside of a watch shine light into the wrist using a range of LED lights, these bright pulsing lights then measure the amount of light that is altered by blood flow. In turn, this data can be used to assess a change in the pulse rate.

Heart rate monitors are a great way to assess your levels of physical exertion, where a steady heart rate indicates good cardio-vascular endurance. The great thing about many of our heart rate monitoring devices, is that this data can be exported directly to online reports that can show development over time.

Longer Lasting Batteries

Just like numerous other tech devices – one of the major issues customers complain about with the first models of smart watches was short battery life. While many people like the extra features of wearable technology, it was frustrating to find that the battery stopped working while on a long hike or run. This is especially annoying for those who plan to be outdoors for multiple days without access to recharging facilities.

In general, a simple way to get around this is to carry a portable charger, but even this battery boost can be limited and creates extra weight if you are aiming to travel light, or aiming to reduce the number of power cables you’re taking with you.

Now, many watches boast batteries that claim to be longer lasting and offer the option to be set to reduced power functions for increased battery life. This means you’ll get longer to monitor your performance, find your way, or update your status, before needing to reach for the charger.

New Materials & Eco-Friendly Products

Woman in a pink rain jacket looks at her purple smartwatch which shows a clock face

Many people want their wearable technology to be durable and long lasting, especially if it is being worn while doing sports in the outdoors. You might be looking for lightweight yet tough materials, such as titanium, and more durable watch faces made of toughened glass, a synthetically produced crystal second only to diamond in its hardness. For climbers and outdoor adventurers, this can be an essential factor in choosing a watch or wearable technology piece due to the expected knocks and scrapes from rocky terrain.

Silicone based watch straps can be a good idea too, due to the fact that they are more comfortable on the skin and are also longer-lasting. They can also be easily replaced if they become damaged, or if there is different reasons for wearing the item. For some, it’s great to have a high quality strap for the outdoors that can be swapped for something more stylish for the day to day commute to work.

Advanced materials for new tougher touch screens on some devices mean that you can get a much more interactive feel to the device, and access features with gestures such as swipes, taps and pinches as well as using push buttons to interact with on screen notifications.

There is now also a move in the industry to create products using more ecological production practices and reducing waste. We all care about the natural environment and seeing as many of us will be using these products to help us to explore more of the great outdoors, it makes sense that the companies manufacturing these wearable tech products will want to do their bit to help ensure the protection of the environment for generations to come. Although it is harder to produce products that are eco-friendly – there are some brands that are now creating straps and component parts from fully recycled materials. We hope to see more of this development in the coming years.

Inter-Changeable Straps & Accessories

Gone are the days when you need to send the watch back to the manufacturer, or take it into pricey jewellers for the wrist strap to be changed. It’s possible with some many new devices to change the strap yourself. With fast changing fashion, and the ability to express yourself more with the accessories you wear, having the choice to change things round with the click of a button is great!

Many fitness tracking wearable devices now offer adapters for specific sports as well, including waterproof cases for swimming, hardened shells for climbing and colourful straps to really show off your personality!

A man in a striped black and white jacket looks at his wrist watch while resting on a table with a coffee, a pair of headphones and an iphone.

Ranging in price from straps costing less than £30, to designer silver options from the suppliers direct, there’s no limit to how you can wear your device!

Route Retracing & Advanced Route Planning

Devices with built in GPS navigation are nothing new to the market, but now many wearable technology companies are putting this feature to better use with new user interfaces on the devices and easy to use features that allow for better route planning and analysis.

Allowing you to retrace your steps on your current route if you’ve decided to stray from the beaten track to explore, you’ll be able to find your way back to the route or back to your car or tent with ease.

Many wearable technology devices, with the outdoors in mind, use interfaces to allow walkers and mountaineers to plan routes with topographic maps. This is a handy feature if you want to know how the route will feel and look in real-time, including changes in height and terrain. Built in mapping helps you to find your way, and plan your next adventure step by step.

Advanced Performance Tracking & Trend Analysis

As well as fitness performance monitoring features such as heart rate and calorie consumption, many sports watches can give more sophisticated details including statistics such as your VO2 Max Level (Highlighting the optimum effective oxygen consumption rate). Information like this is great to work our your cardiovascular performance. Other after-workout performance indicators like recovery advisor, which details how long it will take you recover from your exercise session help anyone interested in their sporting performance to accurately tailor exercise structure to their physical limits and goals. With many of these features available on dynamic applications or menus on the watch, you’ll be able to keep better track of your real time performance right on your device.

Many of our wearable technology items also have the ability to link to apps and desktop analysis programmes that allow users to look at their performance after outings, whether you have climbed a mountain, kayaked around an island, completed a gym training session or simply been about your day to day business. These can show much more in depth analysis to reveal a stunningly detailed range of metrics which can really help with goal setting.

Specific Swimming Tracker

Now you can switch off instead of counting lengths in the swimming pool thanks to wearable technology devices that count for you. With advanced waterproofing and trackers that have been tested to work underwater, new smart watches and activity trackers allow you to monitor your progress and performance in the pool like never before.

Man in a back wetsuit looks out to the ocean while pulling up the zip, wearing a black and yellow smartwatch on his left wrist

These devices can also show you details such as stroke count and stroke efficiency in addition to the more widely used heart rate tracking and session duration. This information can be key to help you to continue to improve your overall performance in the water. With a rise in the number of people taking part in triathlon and obstacle course race style events, this level of waterproofing and swimming analysis is essential in most smart sports watches.

Smart Notifications

If you want to stay connected, but don’t want to keep an eye on your phone, a wearable device is a great option for you. In the outdoors, it’s better to keep your phone in sealed waterproof case or pocket, so having to get this out to check a text or social media notification is really unhelpful. Wearable technology goes further than simply offering sports and activity tracking features as many devices are now enabled to give alerts from social media, texts, emails and more.

Some devices offer vibration functions to subtly alert you to an incoming message, and many allow you to reply or interact directly from the watch interface. After pairing your phone or signing in to the apps on your device, you’ll be able to use the data from your phone to sync notifications and go about your day by keeping up to date simply by raising your wrist. This level of interaction is far less intrusive to your day to day life and makes staying up to date far easier.

Man in a grey hoodie looks to the left with a black and gold smartwatch on his left wrist

Share Your Adventures

We know that many of you love to share your adventures or workout routes on social media. This can be a great way to interact and challenge each other to reach your fitness goals, or share a really great running route. We’re in a market of consumers that want to share their experiences and achievements with others. When we reach our goals, it’s great to be able to compete with others and encourage each other to try new things – with a much wider range of sharing options, modern wearable tech is at the forefront of this – with route videos and other content being automatically curated for sharing during your run.

So what’s stopping you? There’s no better time to invest in a new wearable tech device or smart watch. You’ll be sharing and showing it off in no time. With more big name brands moving into this market – there’s plenty of choice based on what you want the device to be able to monitor and track. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the new developments in the market- so why not share a comment with your favourite wearable brands?

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