While most people would judge the accuracy of their smart watches by how well it tracks distance, there are several things they actually measure – including, importantly, your heart rate. And according to a recent study by Stanford University, it would appear that the Apple Watch does this the best.
While smart watches are certainly far from perfect in measuring your heart rate (or functioning as a GPS for that matter), it does appear that in a newly released paper from the University that the Apple Watch is closest to getting it right. I guess that extra cost you pay for an Apple Watch comes in handy after all.
The researchers evaluated the following devices: Apple Watch, Basis Peak, Fitbit Surge, Microsoft Band, Mio Alpha 2, PulseOn, and Samsung Gear S2 and measured the results against traditional heart rate monitors that sit close to your heart as opposed to measuring from your wrist and looked at which device had the lowest number of errors when measuring both heart rate and energy expended. Their results found the Apple Watch with the lowest error rate and the Gear S2 coincidentally reporting the highest number of errors on both those counts. Six of the seven devices tested (with Samsung being the exception) achieved a median heart rate error below 5%.
The study found that the wrist-worn trackers had the lowest error rate when a person was cycling while walking provided the highest number of errors. This should be expected considering your arms are moving more when walking and running and so the wristwatches will not always be in contact with your arm as required.
Tracking calories burned turned out to be a lot trickier for manufacturers, however. Not a single device tested had an error rate below 20 percent so whether you are using an Apple Watch or Fitbit, I would hold off on trusting it too much to tell you the right number of calories burned so that you can get yourself that slice of cake you want. Rather, just get me that slice of cake instead, as my skinny frame and fast metabolism could certainly do with some extra calories.
Last Updated: May 26, 2017