NPD: Heart Rate Monitoring Fuels Wearables Growth

According to the NPD Group Connected Intelligence wearables industry overview and forecast, while overall activity tracker ownership continues to see growth, up more than 11 million devices in the second quarter compared to the year prior, the most substantial growth in the category includes devices with heart rate monitors.

According to the study, in the second quarter, the number of owned activity trackers that included heart rate monitors grew over 44%, versus 12% a year prior.

The study showed that while heart rate monitors have emerged as the must-have feature in high-end and mid-tier activity trackers, on-device GPS is also beginning to experience slightly stronger growth, although at much lower numbers than heart rate monitors.

As of the second quarter, just 7% of activity tracker ownership was made up of devices that featured on-device GPS or on-device GPS with heart rate monitoring, according to the study. NPD said this lower lever of adoption is driven in part by the cost of adding more hardware features, but also by the fact that many activity tracker owners can access GPS by tethering their device to their smartphone. This capability has made on-device GPS less important than heart rate monitoring.

However, the addition of on-device GPS in the new Apple Watch Series 2 will likely drive activity tracker and smart watch vendors to include this feature in more models over the next year, noted NPD.

“Much like heart rate monitoring functionality became a must-have for the mass market consumer, we expect that on-device GPS capabilities will follow,” said Weston Henderek, director, connected intelligence, NPD. “With the recent addition of GPS on devices like the Apple Watch Series 2, consumers will come to expect this convenience and we will see over time the addition of GPS to more mid-tier devices.”