Consumers consider accuracy to the most important attribute of a wearable that tracks health information, according to a recent study from wearables technology company Valencell and the MEMS & Sensors Industry Group, a Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) trade association.
In a survey of 706 American consumers, 42 percent of respondents owned or had owned a wearable device. Sixty-three percent said they considered accuracy a critical feature. Comfort and battery life took 57 percent and 47 percent of the vote, respectively. Among non-owners, 74 percent said they would consider picking up a fitness tracker or other wearable to manage their health if its accuracy was up to snuff.
"More consumers than ever before are looking to biometric wearables to monitor their health and fitness, and wearables that cannot be trusted for accuracy will ultimately lose out to wearables that have been properly validated," said Steven LeBoeuf, president and co-founder of Valencell, in a statement.
MEMS-based technologies, which use both mechanical and electrical components to sense physical changes, a may help device makers create more accurate, and presumably more consumer-friendly, wearables, suggested Karen Lightman, executive director of the MEMS & Sensors Industry Group.
"Beyond accuracy, MEMS and sensors make wearables more interesting because they literally sense the world around us," she stated. "With so much advanced functionality now at their disposal, I am convinced that wearables designers will introduce new and compelling products that consumers will consider 'must-have' rather than just view as 'nice-to-own.'"
The wrist is the preferred place for wearables. Among owners, wristbands (52 percent) led the charge, followed by earbuds (36 percent) and smartwatches (32 percent) like Samsung's Gear S or the Apple Watch.
Fifty-six percent of owners wear their devices every day while 13 percent wear it once a week. More than a third (37 percent) said they had stopped using them within three months of getting one.
Charging hassles (40 percent) is the top reason many wearables are now collecting dust, followed by inaccurate readings (29 percent). Twenty-six percent said they found their devices uncomfortable to wear and another 24 percent said their devices failed to continually deliver interesting insights.
Step counting was the most useful feature (35 percent) among wearable device owners, followed by heart rate monitoring (18 percent) and notifications (12 percent). At the top of owners' wearables wish list is stress (55 percent), hydration-level (48 percent) and blood-pressure monitoring.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.