Wearable devices in fine fashion

Numerous companies have now released various health monitors designed to be worn on the body or clipped onto clothing.

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Looking for a wearable, but high-tech, fitness device? Expect to browse the store shelves for a while.

In recent years, numerous companies have released various health monitors designed to be worn on the body or clipped on to clothing.

Within the broader wearable computing market, "health and fitness technologies are the most prevalent", according to Steve Koenig, the director of industry analysis at the Consumer Electronics Association.

There is the Fitbug, which counts steps taken and calories burnt. But do not get that confused with the Fitbit, a rival line of activity trackers that perform similar functions but can also track sleep as well.

Jawbone, an electronics manufacturer better known for its Bluetooth headsets, now also sells a US$130 wristband that tracks movement and sleep.

An accompanying app, meanwhile, displays data that illustrates a person's mood patterns and history of meals.

Nike's FuelBand boasts similar features and also straps around the wrist, much like those charity bracelets that have become commonplace these days.

"It's pretty congruent with a lot of fashion, and so it doesn't really look like a piece of tech - yet it is," says Mr Koenig.

Collectively, these various sports and activity trackers are on pace to generate more than $7 billion globally by 2015, and more than 30 million of them are expected to be sold this year, according to market data from ABI Research.

While basic step-counting pedometers have been around for decades now, they have recently been souped up by a growing number of companies that are trying to capture a larger share of this market.

The wider availability of smartphones, and the falling costs of components that power these devices, are only increasing manufacturer interest. "One of the biggest drivers [of fitness devices] is because of the massive growth of smartphones," says Josh Flood, a senior analyst with ABI Research.

"There are so many more sensors: altimeters, gyroscopes, accelerometers," he adds.

"This has allowed companies to take the idea and see what can they can do to enhance their product offering and create better products."