Connected bands have been developed and improved in a tiny lapse of time. Even if it is an efficient tool to quantify your daily efforts and coach you through a loss of weight or a simple reshaping, vanguard devices are more accurate but also controversial…


1/ Setting the stage

For 20 years, the digital era had fled over the world of healthcare. Many medicine applications had found an echo in the digital field. This phenomenon can also be observed in the soft domain of healthcare such as fitness. Since then the evolution has been constant. The source of this emerging field is first of all TV programs showing fitness coach teaching movements and exercises to be repeated by the viewer.

Jumping to the 21st century, video games have been turned into a real tool to take care of ourselves. Numerous game developers have created interactive devices to give the user a “sensation of real” when the player is using such games (WiiFit).

As technology is growing in other fields such as Smartphone’s, smart applications, computers … virtual coaches have now turned into a new form. The fitness bracelet has become the most efficient tool.

2/ Nowadays technology tool: the connected fitness bracelet

The fitness bracelet is a rubber band worn on one of your wrist which collects data about yourself. Depending on the model functions will be slightly different, some of them will take care of your sleep whereas others will collect the number of calories burned, the number of steps, the time spent in activity or the time spent not moving.

At the beginning these products used to be real tools for sportsman but through times it has become more and more used by individuals willing to coach themselves or to stay in shape.

These bracelets are not only used to collect data (first step of the data cycle), it is also possible to link them to a Smartphone or a computer (using Bluetooth or a linking wire -USB-) to analyse (second step of the data cycle) and then collect (third step of the data cycle) all those information. The bright side of these devices is that they allow you to check your activity and your shape in a short period of time (graphics automatically generated) but it also allows overviews on yearly basis. Users are also obliged to feed the software with data about them (height / weight…) to get some accurate advice on what to do.

On another side, these software give a real mapping of your day and lead to a very precise tracking.

3/ Evolution & deviancy

As evolution is not stopping the E-coach goes on evolving…

The last evolution of these rubber bands is a twisted mix between the “happy motivation” to stay fit with a little help of a virtual coach and two psychological theories highlighted by Pavlov and Milgram.

*** Overview of the two psychologist’s theory ***

  • Pavlov : Conditional reflex theory : You can condition somebody to do something if you can make him associate what you want him to do to a good thing.
  • Milgram : It is easier for the human ego to harm somebody else if a third party orders you to do it.

With this connected bracelet, you can program a 320 volts shock if you stay inactive or if you have not achieved your pre-programmed objectives. Moreover when the band is linked to social networks, the application can automatically send your friends a notification to launch you an electric charge because of your laziness.

This type of object is far more controversial than the others. What can it lead to? With no real answer, this only raises a few legal question such as :

  • Can we consider this as a form of torture? ( ECHR article 3 )
  • Is it against human dignity because of the lack of self-arbitration?  

We can also count on and encourage the reasonable use of such devices and take it as a game more than a torture instrument.


A propos de Maxime SALAUN