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Tracker Craze: Fitness Wristbands' Popularity Will Continue to Grow

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Fitness trackers like the Fitbit Force, Jawbone Up and Nike+ Fuelband are rapidly increasing in popularity, and experts say this trend will continue in the coming years.

While the overall market for devices for sports and fitness tracking devices — which includes things like heart-rate monitors, GPS watches and biking computers — is predicted to see a 10 percent increase in revenue by the end of 2017, the market for activity trackers is predicted to see a nearly 25 percent increase, said Shane Walker, an analyst at the research company IHS. Sales of activity trackers are forecast to increase threefold over the next five years, according to IHS.

"Within the monitoring world, activity monitors are definitely gaining momentum," Walker said. [Best Fitness Tracker Bands]

The idea of using a device to monitor fitness performance is not new — the first wireless heart-rate monitor was made more than 20 years ago. But activity trackers like the Fuelband are fairly new to the market, and have been popularized by brands like Nike, Adidas, Fitbit, Jawbone and Withings.

The rise in consumer interest is due to the devices' ability to be paired with a smartphone, and device makers' creation of algorithms to analyze personal data and provide users with insights into their fitness, Walker said.

Makers of activity trackers have also worked to make the look and feel of these devices appealing, Walker said.

Some researchers have predicted that smartphone applications will kill the market for activity-tracker devices, but a survey by Walker and his colleagues suggests otherwise. Among smartphone users who had a fitness app on their phone and exercised at least 10 minutes per week, a high percentage were interested in acquiring a device dedicated to fitness monitoring, Walker said.

Many companies are trying to enter the activity-tracker market — for instance, this year, the maker of Bowflex fitness equipment released its own activity tracker called the Boost, and the company Fitbug released the Orb activity tracker.

The life expectancy for many activity trackers is about two to three years, Walker said, meaning that there is plenty of opportunity for new players to enter the market in the coming years.

Follow Rachael Rettner @RachaelRettner. Follow LiveScience @livescience, Facebook Google+. Original article on LiveScience.

Rachael Rettner

Rachael has been with Live Science since 2010. She has a master's degree in journalism from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program. She also holds a B.S. in molecular biology and an M.S. in biology from the University of California, San Diego. Her work has appeared in Scienceline, The Washington Post and Scientific American.