April 7, 2019

Understanding science

My view on wearables

What gets measured gets managed?

Read Time < 1 minute

I get lots of questions about wearables. Most of the questions are about a specific device and whether I use it or think it has any value. That obviously depends on what you want to get out of the information the wearable provides you with.

In general, I find the vast majority of wearables of little use to me. Why is this the case? Because they don’t fit my framework for what I think a wearable needs to address.

My framework for what must be true of a “good” wearable (Attia Postulates):

  1. What you’re measuring matters (e.g., HRV—matters vs. # steps taken—not so much).
  2. What you’re measuring differs from day to day in ways that are not intuitive or linear (see above).
  3. What you’re proposing to measure you can actually measure accurately (e.g., HR—can be measured accurately vs. subtle changes in body position—probably can’t be measured well enough yet).
  4. You can report the data in a timeframe that is relevant to learn or act on (i.e., real-time info versus delayed info).
  5. You can provide corrective, actionable feedback, if necessary. (This is huge and largely missing in most applications.)

The two wearables that best fit (NB: nothing fully fits…yet) the above framework happen to be the stickiest wearables for me: a continuous glucose monitor (the Dexcom G6) and the Oura ring (disclosure: I’m an investor in, and advisor to, Oura). Sleep quality and glucose metabolism matter, they certainly can vary, and you can act on the accurate data that these two wearables provide you with. In the future, what I would love to see are remarkably high fidelity positional tracking sensors that can determine a person’s exact position in space, which will allow for exquisite movement coaching.

– Peter

Disclaimer: This blog is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute the practice of medicine, nursing or other professional health care services, including the giving of medical advice, and no doctor/patient relationship is formed. The use of information on this blog or materials linked from this blog is at the user's own risk. The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Users should not disregard, or delay in obtaining, medical advice for any medical condition they may have, and should seek the assistance of their health care professionals for any such conditions.
  1. Will insurance cover the CGM for people without a diagnosis of DM or do you pay out of pocket? If so, do you have any recommendations on how to get it to be lower cost?

  2. I looked at the Oura ring website and this product seems overwhelming. I’m sure it has fantastic technology, but it might have more technology than I can handle. Can Peter recommend simpler device for measuring heart rate variability?

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