Study Questions Efficacy of Wearable Health Monitoring Devices

FitBit’s heart monitor wearable device miscalculated heart rates by nearly 20 beats per minute during strenuous workouts, says a new study by researchers at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. The study was commissioned by Lieff Cabraser, a law firm behind a class action suit alleging that FitBit products using the PurePulse heart monitor do not accurately track wearers’ true results.

FitBit fired back that the study was skewed because it was funded by the plaintiffs, who are presumably biased to find data that support their case. FitBit also defended its own research and development of the PurePulse technology.

However, a separate study conducted earlier by researchers at Ball State University and a local TV station in Indiana reported that the FitBut HR, which uses the PurePulse technology, showed an average heart rate error of nearly 15 percent.

The outcome of the court case and the dissection of the various studies come as more and more people are wearing FitBits for a variety of health-related reasons. Questions remain, experts note. For example, Lancaster General Hospital is currently recruiting patients for a clinical trial study to examine the efficacy of FitBits and other wearables in encouraging better diet and health results. Positive or negative data about FitBits in a broader sense could have an impact on their value, real or perceived.

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