Beyond the fitness tracker: 10 wearables that are actually useful

Do more than just count your steps

There's nothing wrong with fitness trackers: they get you up off the couch, encourage you to set goals, and do a decent-ish job of tracking how much exercise you're doing. But there's a world of wearables out there that go beyond run-of-the-mill trackers and offer much more.

Here we present our selection of wearable gadgets that focus on tasks that are a little more specific and churn out data logs you can really start working with. If you're considering an upgrade to your tracker or want to opt for something else entirely, give them a look.

1. Garmin Fenix 3

The Fenix 3 makes the Apple Watch look a little like a kid's toy: you get speed, distance and vertical drop tracking, integrated GPS for guiding you safely across the mountains, support for multiple kinds of sports (including skiing and swimming) and smartphone notifications too, if you really need them. A heavy-duty all-rounder for serious users. [£379.99. Garmin]

2. Recon Jet

Recon Jet

Affix the Recon Jet to your shades while cycling or running and you get all kinds of useful data thrown up in front of your eyes - the little gadget and its associated apps can display your current pace, the distance you've covered, directions to a target and more. It's even able to take photos and shoot video while you're on the move. [$499 (£350), Recon]

Misfit makes its fair share of fitness trackers but here we're going beyond those gadgets - and so to the Flash Link. This very inexpensive button works as a fitness tracker but can also control your smart home: think lighting controls, music playback, camera functions for your smartphone and so on, all of which are programmed via the app. [£19.99, Misfit]

4. UpRight


In an age when many of us are slumped over laptops and keyboards, bad posture is a serious health concern. Strap the UpRight to your back and you get tiny vibrations when you're slouching too much - the associated app gives you a personalised training program, some posture 'goals' to shoot for and tips for your technique too. [$129.95 (£90), UpRight]

5. Jabra Sport Coach

These wireless headphones can track your running and other activities as well as piping music from your smartphone at the same time. Not only that, the Jabra app is able to provide a personalised audio training course over the air, so you get a guided exercise programme as you go, and there's no need to glance at your phone. [£119.99, Jabra]

6. Spire


The pebble-shaped Spire tracks your activities and steps taken but it's also interested in your general well-being and stress levels, and to that end it constantly monitors your breathing levels and tries to judge your mental state from them. The app that comes with it can give you advice when you need to chill out or focus on a particular task. [$149.99 (£105), Spire]

7. Shot Scope

Sports are one of the areas where wearable devices still have a lot of potential left to fulfil - consider footballers, swimmers or tennis players, for example, who can analyse every part of their game. The Shot Scope uses a wristband and a set of tags (to attach to your clubs), promising to collect data on your golf game and improve it accordingly. [£225, Shot Scope]

8. Narrative Clip 2

Narrative Clip 2

This is the second edition of Narrative's lifelogging camera - which clips to your clothes and discreetly takes photos and videos on demand - and if you want the opportunity to record your life in detail without having to repeatedly pull out your phone, this is the wearable for you. The mobile app helps you stitch everything together. [€229 (£175), Narrative]

9. Altrius Smart Jewellery

The thinking behind the modular smart jewellery range sold under the Altrius name is that you get a quiet vibration every time there's an important notification on your phone (and you can set up different profiles for work and home). In theory, it reduces your dependence on your mobile, and saves you from constantly checking it. [£220 and above, Altrius]

10. Samsung Gear VR

Samsung Gear VR

While we wait for the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR to arrive there's the Gear VR: cheap, impressively built, and with a growing software library to back it up. All you need is a recent Samsung Galaxy phone to plug into it (see the list here) and you're off to the weird and wonderful land of virtual reality, no wires or gaming PCs required. [£85, Samsung]

Read our ultimate fitness gear guide

David Nield

Dave has over 20 years' experience in the tech journalism industry, covering hardware and software across mobile, computing, smart home, home entertainment, wearables, gaming and the web – you can find his writing online, in print, and even in the occasional scientific paper, across major tech titles like T3, TechRadar, Gizmodo and Wired. Outside of work, he enjoys long walks in the countryside, skiing down mountains, watching football matches (as long as his team is winning) and keeping up with the latest movies.