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Sensors make smartphone sports apps better

Posted: 03 Jul 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:sensors? Bluetooth Smart Ready? fitness applications?

A study by IMS Research found that consumers want to improve the functionality offered by sports and fitness apps through the use of sensors. The analyst said that 62.3 percent of respondents who had a smartphone, were into sports and fitness applications, and exercised at least once week would buy sensors to monitor performance and enhance their smartphones' sports and fitness applications.

Performance monitoring used to require dedicated sports and fitness devices that were designed specifically for the purpose. With the development of smartphones, performance monitoring has become possible using applications. One example is the pedometer, which makes use of GPS and accelerometers found in smartphones to monitor how many steps a person has taken.

The use of smartphones as a sports and fitness device is also being driven by the integration of Bluetooth Smart Ready and ANT+ technologies. Using the new low-power element of Bluetooth Smart Ready means smartphones can make use of performance monitoring sensors, such as for monitoring heart rate, for longer periods of time with a less detrimental effect on battery life. This will undoubtedly reflect an improvement in the user experience, which is good news for consumers, with 36 percent of respondents owning only a sports and fitness app indicating battery life was an issue.

However, there are issues associated with generating revenue from mobile apps. Lisa Arrowsmith, senior analyst, IMS Research, notes that "almost 80 percent of respondents indicated they would only be prepared to pay less than $3.20 for their sports and fitness application, highlighting these monetization difficulties." She adds, "Fortunately for the sports and fitness industry there is the opportunity to provide accessories (such as pedometers or heart rate sensors) to enhance the functionality of the sports and fitness app, and provide further revenue generation to counter any potential reduction through declining interest in standalone monitors."

The indication that consumers are prepared to pay for sensors to complement the application on their smartphone is good news for the industry, opening up a new potential market of customers that may not have purchased a dedicated sports and fitness device in the past. In the study, approximately 82 percent of these respondents suggested they would pay up to $140 for a complementary sensor. Combining this with the increasing inclusion of Bluetooth 4.0 (Smart Ready) in smartphones means an application with a complementary sensor becomes a viable alternative to a dedicated device, reflecting the direction sports and fitness monitoring is heading.

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