Edge of Innovation

How (un)healthy was your festival season?

We sent a selection of users out in to the field, literally, of the UK’s music scene to see what insights their wearable tech shed on the festival experience – and the results were amazing!

Wearable tech makes registering, recording and responding to health data easy. But when you take yourself out of the everyday 9-to–5 and into the music festival arena, what happens to your health data is eye-opening.

Users at Reading, one of the UK’s largest and most high-profile festivals, walked, on average, just shy of 10km a day. That’s 70 per cent further than an average day at work for our user group. Impressive stuff. And from the detailed data breakdown that the Basis Peak watches they were wearing gave, it was clear much of this walking was between stages during the afternoon and evening. For anyone who has ever attended a festival there are few surprises here.

Compared to users at a far smaller festival, End of the Road in Somerset, which hosts a fifth of the crowds Reading does on a site that’s roughly half the size – and a surprising correlation occurs; the smaller the crowd and the smaller the festival, the more we appear to walk around!

You’d expect little or no sleep at a festival like Reading, and marginally more than that at End of the Road. The Basis Peak’s datasets, however, offered up some interesting insights. While all of our users managed a surprisingly decent amount of sleep over the festival weekend, very little of it was restorative deep-sleep. In fact, with our users averaging just over 6hrs a night, less than 10 per cent of that was deep sleep. No wonder everyone was so shattered!

There’s a very simple way of telling if someone’s enjoying themselves (or, alternatively, in fight of flight mode – though we hope none of our users found themselves here…) and that’s by measuring heart rate. This was made remarkably simple with the Basis Peak and its detailed data app – Mumford and Sons and Sleaford Mods raised our users heart rates well above their resting average and for elevated periods, but it was Metallica at Reading that peaked the Peak readings.

Name: Matt Fryer
Age: 30
Occupation: Web Developer

What were your Reading festival highlights?

I really enjoyed Porter Robinson in the Radio One tent but nobody I was with knew who he was so I went on and danced to this a bit more than the others. It was a high energy set as he was DJing, dancing and singing, which made it a great performance. Metallica and Mumford and Sons aren’t bands I normally listen to but they were great too and the atmosphere was really infectious.

Were you surprised by any of the data in general? Amount of sleep you got etc?

The amount of walking was surprising because it didn’t feel like we walked that much, but I think we averaged 10,000 steps a day. It got to be a bit of a competition in the end and we were making extra trips to the bar.. and loos! I was surprised that I wasn’t asleep for as much time as I thought I was, I thought I slept right through but apparently I kept waking up. It’s pretty interesting to see how quickly you fall asleep and how you lapse into REM.

How did you find wearing a smart watch to a festival?

I used the notifications which are great, that way I only had to take my phone out of my pocket when I had something important to do. Great for when you’re on the go or trying not to lose things that are in your pocket. I find my wrists swell when I get hot so I have to adjust the strap multiple times throughout the day / night which is a bit annoying. I think I’d prefer a strap where you can make more minor adjustments, I often found I was wearing it too loosely for it to read my heart rate consistently.

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Name: Sam Jones
Age: 26
Occupation: Financial Consultant

What were your festival highlights?

Definitely Metallica. I was a big fan when I was younger then after seeing them headline Glastonbury I was looking forward to another great show from them, and they didn’t disappoint. We also sheltered from the rain to watch the Kurt Cobain documentary, which isn’t something I wouldn’t usually do at a festival but was actually really interesting.

You seem to have done surprisingly OK for sleep, did you think this was the case?

To be honest I was pretty worn out. I was surprised by how high my heart rate was overall though. I’m not sure if that’s reflective of my fitness levels or how much I was dancing/walking around the festival. It might be something to monitor as I start the new rugby season to see if my resting heart rate improves when I get back into a weekly training routine.

How did you find wearing a smart watch to a festival?

It was fun, because we were joking around a lot and jumping up and down to see if we could beat each other’s heart rates. We managed to stay together most of the time so didn’t need to text much, but it was good to see that we’d done quite a bit of walking and burnt some calories, because you don’t tend to eat very well at festivals and you’re obviously drinking a lot. It definitely made me feel less guilty about that when I saw that I’d actually done some exercise too. It’s amazing to see how active you can be without really noticing. I don’t know how the heart rate compares to a 45 minute run, but I would definitely choose dancing around to music to plodding along a road trying to run a 10km!

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