Wearable Tech for Women: One Size Does Not Fit All

December 28, 2015 Sarah Kunkle and Gabriela Seplovich

The first wave of wearable technology was not designed with women in mind. While estimates on wearable use by gender vary, one source suggests that male users account for 70 percent of Fitbit’s profits. Some companies have admitted that males are the target audience because larger wearables are easier to engineer. As the market matures, however, many companies are recognizing that they are missing out on a huge market segment and are therefore rethinking their products to make them female-friendly in both form and function.

The most common strategy to engage the female demographic has been overly simplistic: make devices prettier. Misfit’s recent partnership with BaubleBar is part of a broader trend of collaboration between wearable tech and fashion. Other partnerships in this domain include Misfit-Swarovski, Jawbone-BaubleBar, and Fitbit-Tory Burch.  While improving design will likely benefit users of all genders, assuming that “women will fall in love with wearables” as long as they are pretty limits the reach and impact of these devices.

Recognizing the limitations of this strategy, some companies are (re)designing hardware and software to address women-specific health needs. The Leaf by Bellabeat is a stylish activity tracker that can be worn as a necklace or brooch. More important than its sleek design, however, is its ability to track menstrual cycles in addition to activity, sleep, and stress levels, allowing users to make correlations between their cycle, sleeping, breathing and activity patterns. Reproductive health tracking has become a particularly popular segment within the broader market of health apps. In June, Apple announced that it would finally add reproductive health tracking to HealthKit.

It is promising to see a male-dominated industry develop products with women in mind, but there is still much progress to be made. Companies should think outside of the traditional “pink devices are for women” framework to address gender specific health needs and also look to make wearable technology accessible to different sub-groups. In order for wearables to have a broader impact on health, companies must continue to consider the needs of different demographics and design hardware and software accordingly.

 

Would you use Leaf? How can tech companies design better products for you as a woman? Let us know by sharing in the comments section below or by tweeting at either @VitalityUSA or Sarah Kunkle @Sareve.

Source of Image: Forbes

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