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The Biases in Fitness Trackers


If you have darker skin, shuffle when you walk, or regularly push a stroller, it can throw off the data

In a 2019 study, 18 senior citizens took a stroll on some treadmills while armed to the hilt with fitness trackers. They had devices strapped to their wrists and ankles, fastened to their belts, and wrapped around their chests. But even with all these trackers, the seniors couldn’t get an accurate step count because their movements were too slow to trigger the sensors in the devices. 

Commercial fitness trackers are being used for all kinds of things other than tracking steps. They measure heart rate, track sleep patterns, and calculate basal metabolic rate and calories burned. They’re used in clinical trials, research labs, and by insurance companies and corporate wellness programs. 

But are they really reliable enough?

There are various ways your fitness tracker could go wrong, especially ...


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