Consumer Electronics / Fitness & Sports
M2M Connects Consumer Electronics Manufacturers and Customers
The more entertainment electronics equipment, Smart Home devices, wearables or GPS trackers are connected to the Internet by M2M, the better the products and services that the consumer electronics industry can offer its customers.
More and more consumer electronics products send data to manufacturers and platforms via M2M solutions. In the entertainment sector, TV and sound systems provide access to video and music streaming services. In sport, fitness bracelets measure pulse rates or distances run. GPS trackers or a smartphone app can localize valuables or hire cars. Smart thermostats and light switches help make the home more comfortable. Consumer electronics connected by M2M makes people’s lives easier and offers companies enormous potential for new business models.
Wearables: Smart Companions for Fitness & Sports
Measuring your pulse, counting your steps, and relaying the collected data to a smartphone app: Wearables like GPS trackers or fitness bracelets are growing in popularity as mobile companions during sporting activities.
More than 70 million wearables were sold worldwide in 2015. Most of these devices are used in the sport and fitness sector. More and more manufacturers are recognizing the market potential of these wearable companions and are offering different products with different functionalities. Electronics giants like Sony, Samsung and Microsoft along with sportswear manufacturers like Nike and Adidas have long jumped onto the bandwagon that specialists like Garmin, Fitbit, Runtastic, and Jawbone set in motion. It is no longer just a matter of selling devices or apps but of the data that is collected by means of M2M communication and is evaluated.
GPS trackers, bracelets and smart watches
The simplest fitness wearables are tiny GPS trackers that are usually fixed to sportswear with a clip. They provide the least functionality but their batteries last longest. The most widespread are bracelets, mostly made of plastic or rubber, with or without a display. Smart watches provide the widest range of features. They can perform smartphone functions such as taking calls or answering text messages, but they are also much more expensive and their battery life is shortest. Most wearables are waterproof or at least resistant to sweat. They communicate via Bluetooth, NFC, WLAN or the mobile network and can be linked to a smartphone.
Mobile measuring devices for sport and fitness
As constant companions, wearables count the number of steps taken or distance covered or measure the length of activity. They record heart rate, calorie consumption, and running speed, they monitor the wearer’s sleep at night and wake them by means of an alarm. Waterproof swimming watches recognize the swimmer’s arm stroke and save information on speed, distance or number of lanes swum. Skiers and mountain bikers use action cameras to make videos of their journeys; the cameras then relay the films and the GPS route profiles by WLAN to the home computer for processing. If the athlete also uses a wireless temperature sensor, a heart rate chest strap or a speed or cadence sensor, videos can be upgraded with additional information.
Big Data: Data transmission by M2M
M2M communication comes into play in recording and processing all this data. To record improvements in fitness or the achievement of personal sporting targets, data is stored by the wearable and synchronized automatically with the smartphone or laptop as soon as both devices are within WLAN or Bluetooth range. The data is then sent via the wireless or fixed-line network to the manufacturer’s platform in the cloud where it is processed in anonymized form. Special apps and programs process the recorded data for the user and display it graphically in diagrams and illustrations or on a map. Targets can be compared with friends on social media. User data helps companies to gear their products better to customers’ requirements. In addition to the wearable end customers receive a free smartphone app or access to a website where they can regularly check their personal training progress.
Wearables as a billion-dollar market
The uses to which M2M communication can be put in the fitness and sport sector are varied and nowhere near exhausted: Be it the scales that relay body weight and body fat percentage to the PC by WLAN or the smart clothes that monitor the athlete’s vital functions via sensors woven into the material. The first health insurance plans are already offering customers a grant toward the cost of buying a fitness bracelet or a smart watch. What they want are healthy, active customers. If the latest surveys are any guide – and they indicate a growing interest in wearables –, a billion-dollar market will be available in the years ahead for manufacturers and service providers.