by Johanna Mischke

March 2, 2016

Fitness Trackers Without Plastic

Recently German consumer testing organization, Stiftung Warentest, published a report on fitness trackers. The organization tested 12 trackers – big brand names were featured like Garmin, Fitbit and Jawbone. Shockingly, only two of those brands names reached the second best category of “good”. The test found that some trackers might have serious health concerns because the manufacturing process includes a chemical compound. The compound is used as a softener to make the plastics more flexible. This was exceptable because the final product held is considered “ok” by EU safety regulations. Even so, many wearers are concerned about the potential enviormental or physical consequences for wearing these devices daily.

Apart from these findings it makes sense for designers to rethink the materials used in today’s fitness trackers. For example, a watch that you solely want to use to track your exercise, should be created from a non-allergenic, durable and sweat proof. A solution could be straps that are not made out of plastic.

There are some very attractive alternatives on the market today! Check out our ultimate guide to wearables without plastic (prices indicated in this review are for the version without plastic):

Fossil
The Fossil Q activity trackers are a collaboration with Intel.
Price: $125

Pros:

  • Interchangeable wrist straps, among them leather options and a variety of colors
  • Tracker made of refined plated or stainless steel
  • Wireless charging

Cons:

  • Tracker is more for people who seek to become more active. Current version not accurate enough for athletes.
  • Must use your phone to see tracking data

Misfit
Shortly after being acquired by Fossil Group in November 2015 the company released a new stylish product: RAY
Price:  ~$120

Pros:

  • Can be worn on wrist or neck
  • Leather wrist strap option and hidden 8mm spring bars for custom accessories
  • Aircraft-grade anodized aluminum body
  • No charging for about 6 months due to replaceable button cell batteries
  • Water resistant to 50 meters

Cons:

  • Not all strap and necklace options shown in product video available yet – but spring bars allow custom accessories.

Huawei Talkband B2
Comes with a display and is a wrist-worn hearable or a wristband that can also be used as a headset.
Price: ~$200

Pros:

  • Two-in-one device: can be worn in the ear or on the wrist
  • Leather strap options and a variety of colors available
  • Aluminum alloy metal

Cons:

  • Relatively clunky for smaller wrists

Fitbit
The recently launched smartwatch was not a real hit but the new Fitbit Alta might!
Price: ~$230 (stainless steel strap)

Pros:

  • All advantages of the regular Fitbit (market leader in fitness trackers)
  • Sleek design and stainless steel strap options as well as leather straps and a variety of colors

Cons:

  • The no plastic option is not available in all countries (yet)
  • Fitbit metal bands are not sweat or water-resistant

Wisewear
Beautiful smart jewelry that is more than a non-plastic fitness tracker. This product is specifc to women, because it features a safety function and notifications.
Price: $295-$345

Pros:

  • Product is so beautiful that the company won Iris Apfel as testimonial
  • Not only fitness tracking but also safety function

Cons:

  • Product still in Beta phase

GlamFit Jewelry
GlamFit Jewelry by Liberty™ is a subsidiary of Liberty I. Exchange, a purveyor of fine jewelry in the United States since 1978.
Price: starting from $245

Pros:

  • Wide range of form factors: necklaces, pendants and bracelets

Cons:

  • Very sparkly
  • Must use your phone to see tracking data

Ear-O-Smart
Our all-time favorite from Canada – the world’s first smart earring!
Price: N/A

Pros:

  • Can be worn with any earring, the smartness is integrated in the part that goes behind your earlobe
  • The ear is the perfect place for retrieving body data. The earring can even track your heart rate

Cons:

  • Not available yet and only for people who actually want to wear earrings.

Bellabeat:

The LEAF is beautiful and ideal for any environmentally conscious consumer.

Price: $119

Pros:

  • Comes in many different placement types, necklace, braclet, clip-on
  • Works with OS and Andriod
  • Rose gold, or Silver with a wooded electronics case
  • Available for purchase at Amazon, Best buy, Fab, Fancy, Joyus, Brookstone, OpenSky and The Wearables Store.

Cons:

  • Capable of being lost when clipped onto clothing (if you are not careful)

 

There’s more:
Smart jewelry experts Cuff are also looking into including fitness options into their products (website says early 2016). Curious about their no plastic fitness trackers!


TÜV SÜD and WT | Wearable Technologies joined forces to provide certification and testing solutions for wearable technology devices. Now there is a special WT / TÜV SÜD Certification mark for Fitness Trackers  available for makers of these product types. Get your products tested before you start selling to reduce product returns and to ensure consumer safety.