One of the questions I hear about smartwatches is how do they keep track of steps and activity? why should you care about how do smartwatches measure steps?

Smartwatches have always been instruments worn on the wrists of humans to keep watch over time. In the past, they were just a place to tell the time without your phone. Now, things like smartwatches have made their communication devices, convenient storage units and more.

With smartwatches like the Apple Watch and Android Wear becoming so popular in India, it’s no surprise that people want to know how do smartwatches count your steps.

Do they use GPS or do they use a pedometer? How do they measure it? And are they accurate? A quick Google search gives me a lot of information on this topic, but it’s not always useful or correct. Let’s have the basics right first.

How Do Smartwatches Measure Steps

What is Step Tracking in Wearables?

Step tracking is a feature that is available on most smartwatches today. It allows you to measure the number of steps you have done during the day.

There are many people who keep tabs on how much they walk in a day. They count how many steps they take, how far they go, and how much calories they burn.

There are even apps that can tell you all this information. But with the step tracking feature, you need not get another device or an app to help you track your daily activities. Nothing is easier than getting this information right in your watch.

what is step tracking in smartwatches

Technology Behind Step Tracking

There are two main types of step-tracking technology used in smartwatches:

1. Accelerometers: These sensors measure the movement of your wrist by tracking its acceleration as it moves up and down, side to side and rotates around its axis. The results are processed and translated into steps taken and distance travelled.

2. GPS: This function uses GPS signals from satellites in order to measure the distance between you and the satellite. The smartwatch has a built-in GPS chip that enables it to get a reading of your location anywhere on Earth.

This makes it possible for them to determine how far you have moved from your starting point. The satellite also provides real-time updates, so if you leave an exercise session, you can keep track of where you have been through your route history.

How Smartwatches Count Your Steps?

There are many different ways to measure steps, but most of them are based on the same principle.

A pedometer is a motion sensor that tracks both how many steps you take and how far you travel. Most also track your distance travelled by multiplying your step count by your average walking stride length.

For most smartwatches and fitness trackers, steps are an estimate based on an algorithm. They don’t count every step you take – they use a combination of sensors and data to determine the number of steps you’ve taken over a period of time.

Woman checking step counts in her smartwatch
Woman checking step counts in her smartwatch

The sensors in a device measure motion by tracking the acceleration of your body parts as they move. Acceleration is the rate at which something increases or decreases in speed.

When you walk, your hand accelerates downward and then upward again as it moves forward, and it accelerates back down as it swings back toward your body.

How do smartwatches measure sleep?

The wrist or ankle accelerometer in the device picks up this motion by measuring the change in speed. The algorithm uses a variety of these factors to determine whether you’re walking or running (or even climbing stairs).

stecp tracking in smartwatch

It also relies on other data that can be gleaned from the accelerometer, such as arm swing frequency (the average number of times your arm swings from side to side per minute) and cadence (the number of steps per minute).

Here’s How to Improve the Accuracy of Your Step Counts in Smartwatch

Step counters are not 100% accurate for several reasons. Environmental factors such as magnetic fields can cause step counts to go up or down. Other factors include human error and the way the device is worn.

The general range in which you can expect your step count to fall into is plus or minus 5%. You can also increase accuracy by being aware of environmental factors that affect your steps. For example, walking on the carpet can cause step counts to be higher than walking on hardwood floors.

improve accuracy of step counts

When it comes to wearables, one thing that many people are questioning is their accuracy. Obviously, if you’re trying to use them to make any serious changes to your health and fitness, you want them to be as accurate as possible.

It could be a source of frustration for users who find that their step count isn’t accurate. If you know how to check the accuracy of your step counts, you can fix the problem with a few easy steps.

Sync & Update the Software of Smartwatch

The first thing you want to do is make sure your smartwatch’s software is up-to-date. This can help ensure that the device’s software is tracking your steps correctly. You may also want to look at how many times you’ve synced your device.

If you haven’t synced it in a while, you might have lost track of some of your data and steps. If nothing seems out of order when it comes to your smartwatch’s software or syncing, try shaking the device gently while it’s on.

girl in pink top with a fitness band

This can sometimes “reboot” the device and resolve any problems with its software or syncing with your phone or another device. If this doesn’t work, you may need to contact customer support for help troubleshooting the issue.

Conclusion | How Smartwatch Detect Steps?

I hope you’re now clear with how smartwatches calculate steps. With most smartwatches, you don’t have to perform any special settings or calibrations. Some watches will tell you the total, others will display your step count as a fraction of your daily goal. Either way, it is clear that smartwatches do not give as accurate of a measurement as a clunky pedometer.

Smartwatches are a very interesting product, but most of them are still plagued by a pretty significant flaw – they aren’t very helpful when it comes to fitness activities. Truth be told, this isn’t really the fault of the watches themselves.

Fitness tracking requires sensors, and wearable devices just haven’t progressed to the point where they can handle accurate step counting. But that doesn’t mean that smartwatches are useless for fitness activities like running and biking.

They can still function as excellent music players, spo2 monitors, and GPS trackers while you exercise. If you want to do more than just “kill time” while you exercise, a smartwatch is still a good choice.

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