Samsung has announced a new edition of its Galaxy Watch Active2 model that pairs with Under Armour’s fitness ecosystem, including UA’s high-tech HOVR Connected shoes.
When the watch launches in late September, it will give HOVR Connected wearers a platform for not only mapping their running routes, but also tracking pretty much everything about their runs. That includes time, distance, calories, cadence, average and max speeds, and even stride length.
It’s the latest development in a growing trend called the “Quantified Self,” in which enthusiasts use technology to track the tangible statistics of their own lives. Everything from workouts to meals to sleep can be measured and surveyed over time.
But, in the case of the new Samsung watch, how many Americans are really interested in sending such specific data from their feet to their wrists? In an August survey of more than 1,800 U.S. adults, CivicScience determined the market is fairly niche, but still viable. Excluding those who said they weren’t sure, roughly one in ten respondents said they were at least somewhat interested.
Men were more interested in the new watch than women, but only slightly. Interest in the new tech also skewed younger, as one might expect. Twenty percent of Gen Z respondents said they were interested, followed closely by Millennials (17%). Interest among Gen X and Baby Boomers was below 10%.
The Quantified Self
When looking at the “Quantified Self” trend more broadly, some interesting findings emerged.
The most popular form of self-tracking by far is step-counting, with 28% of U.S. adults saying they use an app or device to count their steps. This isn’t surprising; after all, Thomas Jefferson is said to have created a mechanical pedometer back in the 18th Century, and the devices’ history stretches even farther back.
But as many as one in five American adults also uses an app or device to track the specifics of their workouts — that is, the nitty-gritty stats from their runs or the results of their strength training.
Less popular — but still surprisingly prevalent — were other forms of “lifelogging”, as it is sometimes known. About one in ten U.S. adults uses an app or device to monitor their calories or limit their own screen time. Electronic sleep tracking was not far behind. Least popular was monitoring one’s own water intake.
Gender and Age Factor Into Lifelogging
CivicScience’s data showed that women were slightly more likely than men to track their steps, workouts, social media use, and sleep. Women were also far more likely to track their caloric intake.
In terms of age, self-tracking is fairly popular among Gen Z, Millennials, and Gen X. More than a third of respondents in each of these generations keep tabs on their step counts. Tracking workout performance became less popular as age increased, but even among Gen X, at least a quarter of respondents were into it:
Gen Z proved most likely to track social media use, water intake, and sleep. When it came to calorie-counting apps, though, Gen Z respondents were less likely than Millennials or Gen X-ers to be on board. Chalk it up to youthful metabolism.
Self-Tracking and Privacy Concerns
Of course, logging all of this data with an electronic device creates a record of some very personal information. It turns out that those interested in workout tracking have much more trust in Big Tech to keep their data private than the rest of the population.
Those who use devices to track their step counts and workouts are also much more curious about living an alcohol-free lifestyle than those who don’t self-track.
And finally, those that track their sleep habits may have good need of it — two-thirds of this group usually get less than six hours of sleep per night, a rate more than double that of non-sleep trackers.
While it’s clear that the tracking of one’s own workouts and fitness statistics is a viable trend, other “Quantified Self” tracking areas — such as sleep, food / water intake, and social media use — remain more niche. In general, women and young people were more likely to adopt these new approaches to fitness — though young men were more likely to be interested in Samsung’s Under Armour smartwatch in particular.