The Must-Have Gift This Holiday Season: Wearable Technology

The Must-Have Gift This Holiday Season: Wearable Technology

Dec 12 2014

Since its entry into the marketplace in 2013, smart bands have seen a 700 percent increase in sales.

By: Kristina Rich, CPT, CET

With popularity like that, it is hard to come across a holiday list that doesn’t have wearable technology on it.

Not only will you be the favorite mother, father, sister, brother, aunt, uncle by gifting the latest tech, having a wearable device can help boost physical activity and regulate sleep schedules.

But there are many options. It’s hard to know which is the best choice. Here are the top five, in no particular order, based on user friendliness, functionality and overall fitness and wellness tracking.

Nike+ Fuelband SE – $99 – $149 (depends on color)

Priority Health - Personal Wellness - Wearble Technology - Holiday Gift
Photo courtesy of Nike

Nike – one of the leading athletic brands in the world – jumped on the wearable technology bandwagon early, offering the Nike+ Fuelband SE. The Fuelband is essentially the hardware that houses the Nike+ software that has been in use for a couple of years. Nike + is an app you can connect to via your phone or a computer to set goals and keep track of your activities.

The app also takes the information from the Fuelband, the intensity of your workouts, step and sleep data, and combines it with the information you enter in the app. This comprehensive data will provide you with the guidance, insight and motivation you need to stay on track and improve your workouts.


  • Simple band with LED screen, comes in three sizes
  • Comes in royal blue, gold, yellow, black, red, pink and graphite
  • Tracks activity, intensity of activity and sleep
  • Water resistant
  • Bluetooth connection to phone for text, email and call notifications
  • 4 days of battery life

Fitbit Charge – $129.95

Photo courtesy of FitBit
Photo courtesy of FitBit

Fitbit is the most widely known of the smartbands currently on the market. The best version the company makes is the FitBit Charge. The band is more capable than its younger sibling, the FitBit Flex, and has a bigger display screen to show daily stats and time. In addition to tracking steps, distance, calories burned and stairs climbed, the FitBit Charge also tracks total minutes of activity throughout the day. As with the FitBit Flex, the Charge also will monitor sleep and has a silent alarm.


  • Simple band with display for time and stats
  • Comes in two colors, slate and black
  • Tracks activity, calories, steps, distance and sleep
  • 7-10 days of battery
  • Bluetooth connection to phone for call notifications

Jawbone UP3 – $179.99 (currently available for pre-order)

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Photo courtesy of Jawbone

The Jawbone UP3 is advertised by the company as “the world’s most advanced tracker” and boasts of several bioimpedance sensors that monitor heart rate, respiration and galvanic skin response. Since the band also has a tri-axis accelerometer and the ability to pick up skin temperature and ambient temperature, there’s a lot of data being collected. The Smart Coach function of the band learns from this data and is able to give deeper insight into your health and more personalized tips for reaching goals.

The more activities you perform, the more the Jawbone learns about you. Eventually, it will learn to recognize and automatically log your activities whether it is running or a game of pick-up basketball.


  • Simple, one-size-fits-all band
  • Comes in two colors, silver and black
  • Four sensors that track your body and its movements
  • Tracks heart rate, calories, sleep, distance and more
  • Water resistant up to 10 m
  • 7 days of battery life

Garmin Vivosmart – $169.99

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Photo courtesy of Garmin

Garmin is one of the newer players in the wearable technology arena with the vivosmart. Vivosmart is billed as the activity tracker with smart notifications. The Garmin activity tracker records steps and distance, monitors sleep, logs calories through the phone app, and learns from your behavior to personalize goals and provide tips. The vivosmart has an invisible, touchscreen display that appears when you get a notification or when you give the band a tap.

The display shows not only stats and time, but also texts, emails or calls from your Bluetooth enabled phone. Along with those smart notifications, the vivosmart has an inactivity reminder that goes off for every hour you don’t move and develops auto daily goals based on previous data. In addition, the vivosmart is compatible with Garmin’s heart rate monitor which currently retails for an additional $69.99. When paired with the heart rate monitor, the vivosmart can help keep you in various heart rate zones depending on the intensity of your workouts.


  • Simple band with invisible, touchscreen display
  • Comes in black, grey, blue, purple and pink
  • Tracks activity and monitors sleep
  • Has an inactivity reminder when you are inactive for an hour
  • Bluetooth connection to phone for text, email and call notifications
  • Water resistant  up to 50 meters
  • 7 days of battery life

Microsoft Band – $199

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Photo courtesy of Microsoft

The Microsoft Band is the most expensive device to make the list, but for good reason. The band tracks daily physical activity and sleep just like other bands on the market, but because the underside of the Microsoft Band has a built in heart rate monitor, you’ll gain better understanding of calorie burn, sleep patterns and more. Also built into the smart band is GPS so you can record routes you’ve run, biked or hiked. To take things one step further, there’s also a UV monitor to give  real-time updates on the UV index outside.

In addition to health and fitness features, the Microsoft Band displays email, texts and calls and also syncs to your calendar. Social updates from Twitter and Facebook also are displayed on your wrist. If you have a Windows phone, you can also utilize Cortana with the band by telling it to take notes, set reminders, ask for driving directions and more.


  • Simple band with color touchscreen display
  • Band comes in black, but color screen offers customizable backgrounds
  • Tracks activity, monitors sleep, connects to
  • Sweat and splash resistant
  • Tracks activity, monitors sleep, connects to phone via Bluetooth
  • Has several sensors including GPS, Heart rate monitor, UV sensor, accelerometer and more

Consider, you also could go with a standard IOU for an Apple Watch , which hits the market in early 2015, especially since a recent study found that 59 percent of respondents were most excited for Apple’s entry into the wearable market.

This year, wearable technology is the most sought after holiday gift. Whether you are giving or receiving one, these fitness and wellness enhancement devices will contribute to a healthy New Year.

About the Author: Kristina Rich, CPT, CET, is a Wellness Coordinator at Priority Health. She helps implement wellness programs for employer groups as well as promotes wellness within Priority Health and in the community. Kristina is a certified personal trainer and cancer exercise trainer through American College of Sports Medicine.