Consumer wearable and smartphone devices provide an accessible means to objectively measure physical activity (PA) through step counts. With the increasing proliferation of this technology, consumers, practitioners and researchers are interested in leveraging these devices as a means to track and facilitate PA behavioural change. However, while the acceptance of these devices is increasing, the validity of many consumer devices have not been rigorously and transparently evaluated. The Towards Intelligent Health and Well-Being Network of Physical Activity Assessment (INTERLIVE) is a joint European initiative of six universities and one industrial partner. The consortium was founded in 2019 and strives to develop best-practice recommendations for evaluating the validity of consumer wearables and smartphones. This expert statement presents a best-practice consumer wearable and smartphone step counter validation protocol. A two-step process was used to aggregate data and form a scientific foundation for the development of an optimal and feasible validation protocol: (1) a systematic literature review and (2) additional searches of the wider literature pertaining to factors that may introduce bias during the validation of these devices. The systematic literature review process identified 2897 potential articles, with 85 articles deemed eligible for the final dataset. From the synthesised data, we identified a set of six key domains to be considered during design and reporting of validation studies: target population, criterion measure, index measure, validation conditions, data processing and statistical analysis. Based on these six domains, a set of key variables of interest were identified and a 'basic' and 'advanced' multistage protocol for the validation of consumer wearable and smartphone step counters was developed. The INTERLIVE consortium recommends that the proposed protocol is used when considering the validation of any consumer wearable or smartphone step counter. Checklists have been provided to guide validation protocol development and reporting. The network also provide guidance for future research activities, highlighting the imminent need for the development of feasible alternative 'gold-standard' criterion measures for free-living validation. Adherence to these validation and reporting standards will help ensure methodological and reporting consistency, facilitating comparison between consumer devices. Ultimately, this will ensure that as these devices are integrated into standard medical care, consumers, practitioners, industry and researchers can use this technology safely and to its full potential.
- consensus statement
- physical activity