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For wearable devices, one size does not fit all

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For wearable devices, one size does not fit all

One of the most popular categories in the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping bonanzas barely existed a few years ago: wearables.

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Source: Apple

The wearables market is led by Apple's iWatch and fitness trackers by the likes of Garmin and Fitbit, the latter of which is subject to a $2.1 billion takeover bid by Google. The size of the market is expected to more than double over the next four years according to figures from Gartner. It is no surprise, then, that many tech analysts expect Amazon to be preparing for a major push into the segment.

These devices can be used for much more than just checking the pace of your 5k run. They are increasingly becoming a fixture of the digital health movement, an aid that could help monitor heart rates, remind users when to take medicine and even alert emergency services when a fall is detected.

But it has been found that the light sensors in many of these devices have not been able to detect the heart rates of some users with darker skin tones or wrist tattoos. This is a consequence of restrictive clinical trials and raises questions about how these products are tested.

Wearables may become an increasingly common feature of our daily lives, but more work must be done to make them desirable, and indeed useful, for all.

Consumer Edge is a weekly collection of critical developments across the automotive; retail; and food, beverage, and tobacco industries. Drawing on exclusive analysis and value-added content from the Consumer News team at S&P Global Market Intelligence, it is published every Thursday. Click here to subscribe.

Chart of the week

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Automotive

Lyft steering smoother ride to profitability by 2021 than Uber: analysts

The ride-hailing companies both expect to be profitable in 2021 despite posting combined losses of nearly $12 billion on an adjusted EBITDA basis from 2016 through the first nine months of 2019.

Uber denied London license renewal over safety concerns

London's transport authority refused to renew Uber's license after it found that changes to its app created loopholes enabling unlicensed drivers to gain access to the ride-hailing service.

Retail

Amazon may launch health-tracking wearable device to compete with Apple, Google

Experts say they expect the e-commerce and tech company to roll out its own digital tool equipped with Alexa-voice technology.

'Pointless for African Americans': Experts caution against digital health hype

Technological advancements like sensors and artificial intelligence have taken the healthcare sector by storm, but experts say wearables, AI and machine learning do not necessarily ensure diversity in clinical trials.

Fewer holiday shopping days could hurt softline sales, pressure margins

Last-minute shoppers seeking convenience are likely to steer toward retailers with compelling fulfillment options and a broad product assortment.

LVMH's purchase of Tiffany puts pressure on jewelry rival Richemont

LVMH's $16.2 billion acquisition of Tiffany will make it a bigger player in the watches and jewelry segment and put pressure on rival luxury house Richemont, owner of Cartier, Piaget and Van Cleef & Arpels.

Best Buy well positioned for shorter holiday selling season, execs say

Executives of the electronics retailer said the year-end holiday season, which is six days shorter this year, will be about how companies position their promotions throughout the fourth quarter.

Food, Beverage & Tobacco

Massachusetts restricts sale of flavored vaping, tobacco products

The governor of Massachusetts signed into law an effective ban on the sale of flavored vaping and tobacco products.

Compass Group shares fall 5% on lower FY'19 operating profit, European weakness

The U.K.-based caterer said it would book £300 million in charges mainly relating to deteriorating business conditions in key European markets.

S&P 500 Consumer Staples and Discretionary indices

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