Thanks to a joint research program by VSP Global’s The Shop and the University of Southern California’s (USC) Center for Body Computing (CBC), the first study to look at how wearable health and fitness trackers affect engagement and motivation is in the books—the NEJM Catalyst journal, to be exact.
The innovative study, using a prototype of VSP’s unique Level smart glasses (pictured here) found that interaction with social networks and use of digital coaches via a smart phone app connected to a biometric sensor embedded in Level eyeglasses provided incentive for users to increase their activity, including an average 20-25% spike in daily steps when prompted by a digital coach.
Juniper Research has identified smart glasses as the highest growth sector of the consumer wearables segment over the next five years, reaching 11% of the overall wearables market by 2021. This is during a time when categories such as smart watches and fitness wearables have begun to slow.
Researchers also designed the study with the hypothesis that users would maintain daily activity if the rewards were not just tied to personal goals but were also connected to charitable giving. The app synced with VSP’s Eyes of Hope initiative, where once a certain number of steps were achieved, the user triggered the donation of an eye exam and pair of glasses to someone in need. Participants who reported being motivated by charitable giving had higher activity levels throughout the study—averaging 700 additional daily steps per degree of charitable motivation.
“One in every five Americans wears a health tracker but there was no research that took a look at what motivates engagement, until now,” said Leslie Saxon, M.D., founder and executive director of the USC CBC who led the research effort.
Dr. Saxon also acknowledged the seamlessness of having a sensor built into a form factor participants wore every day—prescription eyeglasses—was a key motivator for participants. Referencing the ease of not having to remember to put on a separate wearable, the fashionable and comfortable eyewear design, and the simple charging mechanism, participants embraced these aspects of the Level smart glasses as an ideal wearable for activity tracking.
“In many ways, the Level prototype combines all the unique capabilities of VSP Global, including eyewear design and manufacturing, eye care, optics, technology and charitable giving,” said Jay Sales, co-director of VSP’s innovation lab, The Shop. “Partnering with the USC Center for Body Computing gave this project a degree of academic rigor and multidisciplinary input that was needed to truly understand this platform. Our team can now take these critical learnings and apply them to future iterations of Level.”
To read more about the study and its results, you can read the press release here, or the entire journal article here.
Pictured: The prototype Level smart glasses from VSP Global's The Shop