is supported by You. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

How Fitness Trackers Work: A Comprehensive Guide

How Fitness Trackers Work A Comprehensive Guide
Latest Update: May 4, 2018

Table of Contents

Share with your fitness buddies

Isn’t it fascinating that with just some taps and swipes on a rather simple-looking wrist-worn device, you can have a wide picture of how fit you are? Yes, we’re talking about how fitness trackers work, and how they are able to log data from different activities like walking, running and working out.

Are you interested in learning the details on how these gadgets work? Then, we’re inviting you to read on!

By the time you’ve finished going through this comprehensive guide, you will be more acquainted with these gadgets, and you will be amazed how pivotal they can be in your goal of having a healthy lifestyle.

A multi-layered wonder: How fitness trackers work

It’s easy to conclude that fitness trackers work wonders. From measuring the number of your footsteps to monitoring your heart rate, who would’ve thought that you can keep tab on these things by merely wearing a watch-like device?

But did you know that a tracker is composed of different layers that work together to deliver such important tasks?

Sensing layer

As how its name implies, this layer embeds different sensors into your tracker. These sensors are responsible for gathering data on various fitness indicators. Data collected in this layer are then sent to servers.

MAC layer

This is where your tacker is being monitored and controlled. It also houses your devices’ power and quality-of-service management.

Network layer

This layer uses an Internet protocol for transmission, routing, and addressing of data.

Processing and storage layer

This layer is tasked to analyze whatever data is gathered by the sensing layer. It is also responsible for your databases’ security.

Service layer

This crucial layer provides your processed data to other services, including your Android or iOS health apps.

What makes your tracker stand out?

Out of the layers mentioned, the sensing layer is considered by many as one of the more important parts of your gadget. Why? Because the sensors that come with it spell out the difference of your fitness tracker compared with its rivals.

Here are some of the most common sensors found in fitness trackers.


This is one of the most basic tracker included in fitness bands. It is typically used to count your steps. Existing in either digital or analog forms, this tracker uses acceleration force and orientation to determine whether your device is moving or not.

Galvanic skin response sensor

Even before fitness trackers hit the mainstream, this sensor has been of important use. Used in lie detectors way back 1920’s, this is capable of measuring your skin’s electrical connectivity. As this detects when you start to sweat, the device is able to digest more information about what you, as a user, is doing. However, it goes beyond just that – it can also monitor your stress level, helping you know when it is time to take some meditative measures.

Global positioning system

GPS technology, for sure, is pretty much familiar to you. It helps track location and direction using a network of around 30 satellites that orbit the planet. This works by counting the time it takes for a signal transmitted by the satellites to reach your fitness tracker. With enough satellites, the device can indicate the exact coordinates of your position.

Optical heart-rate monitor

As you can infer from what it is called, this monitor measures your heart rate using light. How? An LED first shines through the skin. The blood that flows in the veins beneath your skin layers is capable of absorbing the light – but not all. The light that is not absorbed then bounces back. The fluctuations in the level of light that returned to the sensor is then translated into your heart rate.


This sensor measures your core body’s temperature while you are doing exercises, workouts and other physical activities. A common feature in many fitness trackers, this is actually helpful in designing your fitness routine (e.g. how intense should it be).

Ambient light sensor/UV sensor

The ambient light sensor is responsible in telling you the time of the day. Apart from this, it also tells your tracker to brighten the screen during daytime and go a little bit dimmer when the night comes. On the other hand, the UV sensor is the one that reminds you to safeguard yourself from the sun’s harmful radiation.


They say that good things come in small packages. And one testament to this adage is the fitness tracker. This wrist-worn gadget is capable of giving you a panoramic view on how fit you are, using different indicators like heart rate and step counts among others. Beneath its sleek design are layers of components that work hand in hand to give you the clearest possible picture of your fitness condition. No wonder why this device is receiving much attention from health buffs from around the globe.

Date Published: November 20, 2017

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles