Establishing a global standard for wearable devices in sport and exercise medicine : perspectives from academic and industry stakeholders

21 Sep 2021

Millions of consumer sport and fitness wearables (CSFWs) are used worldwide, and millions of datapoints are generated by each device. Moreover, these numbers are rapidly growing, and they contain a heterogeneity of devices, data types, and contexts for data collection. Companies and consumers would benefit from guiding standards on device quality and data formats. To address this growing need, we convened a virtual panel of industry and academic stakeholders, and this manuscript summarizes the outcomes of the discussion. Our objectives were to identify (1) key facilitators of and barriers to participation by CSFW manufacturers in guiding standards and (2) stakeholder priorities. The venues were the Yale Center for Biomedical Data Science Digital Health Monthly Seminar Series (62 participants) and the New England Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting (59 participants). In the discussion, stakeholders outlined both facilitators of (e.g., commercial return on investment in device quality, lucrative research partnerships, and transparent and multilevel evaluation of device quality) and barriers (e.g., competitive advantage conflict, lack of flexibility in previously developed devices) to participation in guiding standards. There was general agreement to adopt Keadle et al.’s standard pathway for testing devices (i.e., benchtop, laboratory, field-based, implementation) without consensus on the prioritization of these steps. Overall, there was enthusiasm not to add prescriptive or regulatory steps, but instead create a networking hub that connects companies to consumers and researchers for flexible guidance navigating the heterogeneity, multi-tiered development, dynamicity, and nebulousness of the CSFW field.