Apple Watch Sport will not replace dedicated sports trackers, Zepp suggests

Smartwatches might host their own fitness-tracking capabilities, but according to one specialist they’re not cut out for accurate sports analysis.

Despite products such as the Apple Watch, and teasingly titled Apple Watch Sport, hosting all the required sensors to track your daily steps, calorie burn and distances covered, given the challenge of recording more precise sporting activities and movements, their attributes quickly fall short.

As a result, Zepp, a company that specialises in sports-focussed wearable sensors, has suggested this lack of sports-centric credentials means smartwatches will always remain a secondary device in the sector.

“The jury is still out on these watches and the overall experience they offer,” Zepp CEO Jason Fass said.

Looking at the effects smartwatches can have on the sports market, Fass suggested that devices such as the LG G Watch R and Moto 360, will be used more to display information recorded by other sensors than as a primary means of data capture.

“I think what you’re going to see from us is not necessarily using the watch as the sensor, although we can, but we think the watch will allow us to provide feedback to the user,” he told us.

Offering up more details, he added: “In terms of data displayed on the screen, notifications and maybe even beeps and vibrations around corrective motion, we see that as the first phase of these watches.

“We’ll see where it goes from there.”

Despite its name, the Apple Watch Sport is no more sports-focussed than its traditional or 18-carat gold siblings. It gets its name simply from its aluminium body and rubber strap.

It’s not just the Sport that lacks clear focus, however. Speaking exclusively with TrustedReviews, Fass explained why no current smartwatches are best suited to the required nuances of specific sports monitoring.

“We are excited about Android Wear and the Apple Watch, but one of the key things with the watch is that it sits above the hands. Because of this, you miss out on a lot of critical data,” he told us.

He added: “You can move that hand all over the place without really moving the watch so that would mean you can move that club all over the place without moving the watch.

“It’s great for things with tempo, arm speed and velocity, but it’s bad for the path and 3D aspects of what we do.”

Further highlighting the restrictions of smartwatches in certain sports, Fass used Tennis as a revealing example.

“The other funny challenge of these watches with Tennis, is that most people wear a watch on their non-dominant hand and hold the racket in their dominant hand so there are some inherent challenges.”

Zepp currently offers a dedicated multi-sports sensor that can be used to track golf, tennis and baseball performances.

Attaching to the end of the racket/club (tennis/baseball), or the hand (golf), the Zepp sensor relays data to dedicated smartphone apps which utilise bespoke algorithms to offer detailed breakdowns of swing speed, tempo, hand plane and body movement.

Related: Apple Watch vs Pebble Time

Although not sold on the role of the smartwatch within the sports tracking space, Fass has hinted that Zepp could potentially bring stripped back tracking apps to the techy timepieces.

“It is certainly possible and we have a number of prototypes,” he told us.

“It’s going to be a great place to build a unique experience and it could be a funnel where you can try Zepp on the watch and then be pushed through to buy a dedicated sensor.

“We’re not counting on that as being the key experience enabled by the watch yet, just because it’s so early.”

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