- By: Adam Balkin
LAS VEGAS – There really will be so, so many FitBit-type fitness bands in 2014, and so, so many of them will pretty much do the same thing.
For the most part, they all count your steps and measure your sleep. Many now have heart rate sensors, too. Plus, they have companion apps to motivate you and tell you how well you’re doing. So for you, choosing which one to get may come down to which one you think looks best, or finding one with a little extra feature that appeals to you.
For example, there’s Sony’s Core and Smartband. Developers say the accompanying app is designed to be an entire life log and not just a fitness log.
“You can see on the entertainment side, these are all the songs I listened to while I went on my run, so maybe because I ran my best time, it was because of the music I was listening to at the time as well,” says Rob Vongsay of Sony Electronics.
LG’s Lifeband Touch may appeal to the always-connected gym rat. A constant link to your phone means it offers not only fitness, but also messaging notifications like incoming calls and texts. Plus, it links with headphones that monitor your heart rate through your ears.
“It syncs wirelessly with your smartphone. So it’ll not only play your music, you can also take phone calls and monitor your heart rate at the same time,” says Tim Alessi of LG.
The Razer Nabu also offers up text alerts. Plus, Nabu bands can find and connect with each other to help with the game-ification and socialization of fitness.
Finally, if you are a numbers junkie, you just want to know as much as possible about your body. The BASIS band may be your best choice for two reasons: one, because of the number and types of sensors that are in it, and two, because the longer you have it, the more it’ll do.
“Most trackers on the market have a motion sensor, whereas we have a heart rate sensor, we have a motion sensor, and we can track perspiration and skin temperature,” says Tejash Unadkat of BASIS Science.
As developers come up with new ways to use the sensors, they push updates with new functionality to the watch and app.
With the new vívofit, Garmin is rolling performance-tracking into a package that’s significantly smaller and sleeker than its typical fitness watch. The GPS giant believes the bracelet is more than just a “me too” device in a swelling marketplace, explaining that it packs a few features that set it apart.
Garmin has been designing and selling sports monitors for years, but many of them could be described quite rightfully as ungainly wrist bricks. The new vívofit joins the likes of the Nike+ FuelBand SE and Jawbone UP in offering fitness monitoring in a thin, lightweight bracelet. Unlike many other Garmin devices, the vívofit does not include a GPS chip.
Instead of simply tracking your movement, vívofit adds some intuition to your daily fitness routine. It creates attainable daily goals based upon your activity level, increasing the goals as you meet milestones. This way, you’re inspired to keep striving for a fitter, healthier lifestyle.
“Vívofit is the only fitness band that automatically greets users with a personalized daily goal, tracks their progress and reminds them when it’s time to move,” Garmin claims in a press release.
By Derek Ross
If there’s one thing we learned at CES recently, it’s that the age of wearable technology is upon us. At CES, we saw smartwatches, smartglasses, smartbands, and other wearable tech from numerous manufacturers. As the fairly new industry moves forward, so does the need for our smartphones to better communicate with these devices.
Fitness lovers will be excited to learn that Google is working on a new fitness API for Android. This new API will be able to tap into your devices sensors and store the data on your Google profile. The Fitness API will allow applications to view and edit fitness data, fitness tracking, access health information, and access activity data.
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Google preps Android for wearables, works on Android Fitness API
I just returned from the most exciting Consumer Electronics Show I’ve ever covered. Thanks to extraordinary demand for gadgets that make us healthier, stronger, and smarter, the technology industry is putting some serious brain power behind the next generation of wearable health devices. Over the next year, a torrent of new devices is hitting the market to provide automated elite coaching, a pocket-sized clinical lab, and your own personal assistant.
Labs In Your Pocket
It seems that nearly every time I rush head-first into a new diet or exercise program, I find months later there’s some crucial oversight that’s holding back my progress or actively destroying my body. Exasperated in frustration, I drag myself to a clinic for expert diagnostics, only to discover simple advice I should have been following from the beginning.
Now, nearly every expensive lab test I’ve gotten over the past year is coming to the delightful convenience of my smartphone. The Sensoria smart sock correctly diagnosed that I make the runner’s rookie mistake of heel striking, leading to a workout-stopping knee pain (available this spring).
Valencell’s PerformTech in-ear heart-rate monitor calibrated my V02Max (a common measure of endurance) in a nearly painless five minutes of light stair-stepper work on the CES show floor (available now). The results were within 5 percent of lab-test results I received months earlier and helped me know that two months of running San Francisco’s hills are probably paying off.
Quality rest is just as important as hitting the gym. The Basis B1 wristwatch, Sleeprate app, and Withing’s Aura bed pad will diagnose the quality of the major stages of sleep, including crucial REM cycles.* I got a preview of Sleeprate’s heart-rate-monitor-powered app, and apparently I’ve got a nasty restless sleep cycle (Basis update coming January 21, Sleeprate January 23rd, and Aura in the spring).
Unlike a lab test, these devices can follow you wherever you go, ensuring you actually follow through with the advice. Many of us work so hard at self-improvement; it’s nice to know that our time isn’t going to waste.
Automated Elite Coaching
The defining feature of the world’s sharpest coaching minds is a broad novel strategy that is meticulously applied to each student. The delicious replicability of elite coaching makes it ripe for automation.
While last year was all about fitness gadgets that monitor activity, “what’s going to happen next is teaching technique,” said Ruth Thomason of Cambridge Consultants. Cambridge was showing off the ArcAid basketball free-throw technique video analyzer. Normally available to college sports teams with budgets larger than the entire Humanities Department, this kind of video technology could bring elite coaching to the masses.
The marathon-enthusiast fitness company, Polar, is releasing what claims to be the most advanced training watch on the market. The Polar V800 meticulously tracks heart rate to advise athletes when they’re overtraining, analyzed through a free online web app, Polar Flow (available in April).
There’s also hope for my fellow ADHD brethren: Interaxon’s Muse headband is like a mind-reading meditation coach. Using classic techniques from the field of neurofeedback, the behind-the-ear mounted EEG device measures brainwaves to coach users into a state of meditative peace. Unlike its competitor, Neurosky, which is mostly used for brain-controlled computing (and women who love to wear rotating cat ears in San Francisco), the muse will track improved mindfulness over time.
In the same way online education is bringing the teachings of world-class professors to anyone with an Internet connection, the future of health tech will be to essentially roboticize elite coaches in the devices we wear on our bodies.
The Digital Mother
“Sit up straight and brush your teeth!” Sometimes, we know exactly what we’re supposed to do, but just aren’t very good at following through. The latest health tech is here to gently nag you into better health.
The Lumo Lift is a vibrating shirt pin that buzzes whenever it detects slouched shoulders. It’s pretty much impossible to answer 5,000 emails a minute and remember to sit up straight for eight hours. This little guy helps you remember (available in the spring).
For objects around the house, the aptly named “Mother” device imbues everyday objects with the nagging power of our lovely moms. Sen.se’s Mother interacts with satellite “cookies” that know when and how an object is being used; for instance, whether a bottle of pills is being picked up and poured upside down. The same goes for a jar to water the plants (available in the spring).
2014 is going to be an exciting year for digital health. For years, technology has conspired to transform our upright bodies into hunched-back zombies. Now, it can make us all ubermen. Bring on the gadgets!
More at Tech Crunch:
I’ve Seen The Future Of Health Tech And It’s Going To Improve Your …
The market for fitness-tracking devices really started to take off at last year’s CES, but it began at a light jog. A Pew Research study at the end of January 2013 revealed that most Americans were eschewing fitness gadgets in favor of old-school tracking, either in their heads, or by writing entries in a journal. Since then, the hardware has picked up the pace rapidly, and it offers connectivity with a wide selection of cross-platform software to create and maintain a digital health and fitness record.
We reviewed a couple of the biggest offerings last year. The Nike+ Fuelband SE and the FitBit Flexfailed to really impress, and, though we liked the Basis B1, it would be fair to say no company has yet nailed the right blend of accurate biometric data gathering, useful features, and style. There’s room for a device that can blend form and function, and if we don’t see it this year, it certainly won’t be for lack of effort.
It’s not just big manufacturers like LG and Sony revealing plans to conquer the fitness market, we’re seeing wristbands, earphones, and other gadgets coming from all sorts of unlikely sources, including gaming company Razer and printer giant Epson. Let’s take a look at 10 of the fitness gadgets hoping to catch your eye in 2014.
The debut fitness wearables from LG are the Lifeband Touch and the Heart Rate Earphones. The activity-tracking Lifeband Touch slips onto your wrist and sports an OLED touch screen which allows you to swipe through your stats and check things like how many steps you’ve taken, what distance you’ve covered, your speed, and how many calories you’ve burned away. It can also hook up to your smartphone via Bluetooth and show you incoming calls, the time, and music controls.
If you want to keep tabs on your heart rate and oxygen consumption as well, then pop on the unimaginatively-named Heart Rate Earphones which measure blood flow in your ear. They are both compatible with Android and iOS, and you can use them with LG’s fitness app, or third-party apps like Runkeeper. Battery life is touted at between two and five days. We’re told they’ll hit the market in the first half of 2014, but there’s no word on pricing just yet.
When it comes to consumer electronics, there aren’t many pies that Sony doesn’t have fingers in. Building on an early presence in wearables with the Sony Smartwatch range, the Sony Core sensor is taking things in an entirely new direction. This is a tiny gadget that’s designed to track your life. It slots into a standard fitness tracker wristband called the SmartBand, but you can detach the core and stick it in anything, from your shoes to your tennis racket. Sony’s hope is that other companies will produce compatible products.
The Core can track your movement, your sleep patterns, and it has a small button on the side that enables you to record life events, which Sony dub “life bookmarks.” You can hook it up to your smartphone via Bluetooth, but it can also log events as a standalone device and update the phone later. The battery can last for five days between charges. Since it hooks up to your smartphone, it can also vibrate to alert you to an incoming call.
All the data collected feeds into Sony’s Lifelog app, which makes Core more than just a fitness tracker, because you can use it to record any moment of your life and build a comprehensive diary. It’s set to go on sale within the next three months, and we’ll get full details and pricing at MWC next month
It doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch for a GPS giant like Garmin to step into the fitness wearables space. It’s offering is the Vivofit and it definitely has a couple of differentiating features. The low-power E-Ink display means that the dual coin-sized batteries can power this baby for a whole year before needing replaced. That removes the headache of regular charging.
As for functionality, the Vivofit is designed to track your activity level to establish a baseline, after which it will start assigning you daily goals. It works as a pedometer and a calorie tracker, and you can pair it with a heart-rate monitor for greater accuracy. It also hooks into Garmin Connect, which allows you to manage your data, share it with others, and engage in some competition to encourage your progress. It should be available by March and it will cost you $130; add $40 to get the heart rate monitor with your Vivofit.
Archos Activity Tracker
Revealed before the show started, the Archos Activity Tracker was easily lost amid its smartwatches and smart home devices. It’s a simple Bluetooth wristband that hooks up to your Android or iOS smartphone. It has an OLED display which can show your steps taken, time, calories burned, and walking distance. It can store up to seven days of data before it has to sync with your phone and the battery should last that long between charges as well.
Archos also offers a Blood Pressure Monitor and a Scale. All three devices can feed the Archos Connected Self app. No word on a release date or a price just yet, but if the Archos smartwatch range is starting around $50, then it should be fairly low
We were surprised to see gaming specialist Razer showing off a wristband at CES, but the company has a real flair for design, so it’s a welcome addition. The Razer Nabu SmartBand actually combines some useful smartwatch features with typical fitness tracking functionality. It has an accelerometer, an altimeter, and a cylindrical vibration motor for recording your activities.
It also connects with an Android smartphone or an iPhone via Bluetooth and has a clever dual-OLED design. The tiny 32 x 32 pixel display on the top of the wrist shows basic notification information, like alerts for calls or text messages. The larger 128 x 32 pixel display provides more detailed information, but it’s hidden from public view on the inside of the wrist, which is nice and discreet. It also has some cool gesture controls, such as shake to dismiss an alert. Plans are afoot to tie in third-party app support and get social media onboard. The developer edition is just $50, so even with a price hike before release (expected before the end of March) this could be a real winner for anyone on a budget.
Another seemingly unlikely contender for your fitness gadget affections is printer company Epson. It clearly sees a future in wearables, as the Moverio BT-200 smart glasses were closely followed by a smartwatch and a wristband with fitness tracking capabilities. Both devices can record heart rate data, without the need for an additional strap or earphones. They can also monitor your activity levels, calories burned, and sleep patterns.
The Watch has an LCD display, so you can see the data in real-time, while the Band only has a small LED display and must be connected to your Android or iOS smartphone before you can check up on the recorded biometrics. They can store up to 480 hours of data before you have to sync them, and you can sync them directly with a computer instead of a smartphone, if you prefer. The watch is $200, the wristband is $130 and they should land in the summer.
Intel Smart Earbuds
There was a whole host of excitingwearables from Intel on show at CES, but they are reference designs, rather than finished products that will hit the market imminently. We still think the Smart Earbuds are worthy of a mention. They are capable of recording your heart rate alongside the usual batch of workout data, and they can be powered via your smartphone jack, so there’s no need to worry about them running out of juice.
Intel also developed some software to tune your workouts and offer some coaching; that includes selecting music to match your heart-rate target. The hardware uses the same PerformTek sensors as LG’s Heart Rate Earphones. We hope someone picks this one up and runs with it.
Wrist-based fitness trackers are getting so common, how about a headband instead? Spree’s fitness headband pairs with your iPhone via Bluetooth and it records your workout progress by measuring temperature, heart rate, and motion. It’s crafted from silicone rubber, which is water resistant, and it can provide an added benefit by keeping sweat out of your eyes.
Spree claims that headbands have benefits over wrist bands, which can be unreliable, and over traditional chest strap heart-rate monitors, which are uncomfortable. It only works with an iOS app right now, and it costs a hefty $300. It’s due to ship within the month.
Here’s an interesting gadget with a very different premise. The Tao WellShell is an isometric exercise device, about the size of your palm. It’s extremely portable and it builds fitness by challenging you to squeeze it. Apparently there are over 50 different exercises to perform, and you can slip it out of your pocket and give it a little squeeze wherever you happen to be, even if you only have five minutes to spare.
It is also capable of recording exercise data including steps taken, distance covered, and even your heart rate. For a complete picture of your health it can track your sleeping patterns and calorie intake as well. It has companion apps for iOS and Android and there’s connectivity via Bluetooth or micro-USB port. We don’t yet know when it will be available or what it will cost, but we’ll update you when we do.
Here’s a fairly stylish entry to the fitness tracking line-up. The Wellograph has a sapphire crystal 168 x 144 pixel e-paper LCD display and it can record your heart rate and the usual activity stats (steps, distance, etc.). It can even show you the data as a graph instead of cold hard numbers. It’s got a magnetic charging dock on the back, but it can go two weeks between charges. It syncs via Bluetooth 4.0, and has a companion app for iOS and Android, but it is intended as a standalone device, so you don’t pair it with your smartphone.
The Wellograph can also serve as a watch, and it will be on sale in April for around $300.
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Ten of the best fitness gadgets from CES 2014 | Digital Trends
Wearables are everywhere. But when a company such as Garmin, renowned for its fitness and GPS products, announces a new product it’s time to stand up and listen. Welcome the Garmin Vivofit, a wristband fitness device that we got to see at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. First impressions are lasting, so is the Vivofit just what we’ve been waiting for?
Priced at £100, Garmin has opted for affordable. But even so, the build of the Vivofit doesn’t look cheap by any means. The rubberised band is slim and contains a bulkier main section with a non-backlit LCD panel to keep an eye on how performance is going.
The display can present the day’s steps, distance (miles), calories burned, time exercising, as well as the time of day via a 24-hour watch face. There’s also heart rate monitoring via a compatible monitor – Garmin makes a straightforward chest-based one that can be bought for around £40, or there will be a band plus monitor package with an unknown price. It’s ANT+ compatible, though, so you can use third party ones too.
The display might look more like a retro digital watch, but that’s to the benefit of sharp, easy-to-read numbers so you’ll always know where you stand within a given activity. Better still it’s very easy going on the battery. Garmin claims the replaceable cells in the Vivofit will last for a year or more, so less faffing around charging up all the time. The only problem is that such LCDs aren’t back-lit, meaning when it gets dark you won’t be able to see it or have a clue how well you’re doing.
On the controls front things are kept simple – there’s a single button that can be pressed to toggle between what’s on the display or sync to send data to Garmin Connect. It’s as simple as that.
Connect has also been redesigned for 2014 to include more motivational goals. And with Vivofit if you’re inactive for an hour then that red arrow part of the display continues to build up to show that you’ve been sat on your arse for too long. The suggestion is to just walk for a couple of minutes each hour to refresh your brain, you needn’t go into hardcore exercise every 60 minutes.
Vivofit looks like a great entry-level product to us. The long-lasting battery is a definite positive, even if the device is next to useless in the dark due to the display type.
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Hands-on: Garmin Vivofit is a long-lasting and affordable fitness band
We love it when a leak and a rumor come together. LG’s Lifeband Touch (as claimed by @evleaks), pictured above, is most likely the wearable that was hinted at just last week. The fitness band is likely an evolution of that which we saw back at CES, and at a guess, we might see again in the next week or so (unless we’re made to wait until MWC). The name — and image — suggest a touchscreen component making this a swipe-friendly FuelBand competitor. Whether it’ll be an LG G2 companion (as rumored) or a standalone device is yet to be known (we’re hoping maybe a bit of both). Unless LG has had a change of heart, it’s also likely to include an altimeter, some mobile notification features and play nice with the firm’s Smart TV fitness/dance apps. What certainly is clear, however, is that there’s going to be even more competition for your wrist in 2014.