A new study from Juniper Research (www.juniperresearch.com) has found that a gradual change in direction for fitness wearables towards healthcare devices will lead to over 75 million Americans using dedicated activity trackers by 2021, over double the current user base.

The new research has found that this shift in focus will alter consumers’ perception of wearable trackers, making them seem more necessary. Vendors like Fitbit, Withings and Misfit are leading this change, making integration with medical databases a priority and focusing on encouraging users to lead healthier lives, rather than getting “fitter.”

Juniper Research says this will move the wearables battleground from consumer hardware to institutional partnerships and software integration; players who are able to make their devices and systems part of healthcare practices will reap the largest rewards. The research group also revealed that the form factor of devices has begun to vary, and the range of metrics they measure has increased in recent years; heart rate and related metrics is becoming more common. This will accelerate the merging of the fitness and health wearables categories, which already have a degree of overlap.

The research also found that nearly 25% of fitness trackers will be something other than a wristband by 2021. Despite the changes in shape and context, core functions will remain unchanged: to record activity and provide advice. Devices which offer many non tracking functions have not succeeded in market.

“The promise of a healthier life remains the biggest reason for wearables use,” remarked research author James Moar. “The ability to collect more and better data on consumers, coupled with advances in artificial intelligence, will allow these devices to provide tailored advice, and have a much clearer impact on consumers’ lives in future.”