More than 1m Irish adults are considering purchasing a wearable device or app to monitor their fitness over the next 12 months, and numerous tech giants are eyeing the market gleefully.
As ever, January is the time many people start looking at their waistline, after a month of excess. To help whittle those waistlines, we look at some of the top kit for fitness, listing the best wearables available, some we have to wait for, and a couple we’re dying to see materialise.
Samsung Gear Fit (about €140)
On the market a good 10 or so months now, Samsung’s Gear Fit is one of the better-looking wearable devices for fitness. The curved product comes with a vivid Super AMOLED display and is water resistant. Its pedometer barely takes up any battery space and doesn’t need constant monitoring and logging. Once you turn this feature on you can basically ignore it as it does the rest of the work for you, logging data daily.
On a more serious note, the Exercise app lets you clarify whether it’s running, walking, cycling, or hiking that you’re up to, and the S Health app – linked to your smartphone, too – lets you set goals for yourself.
Up3 (about €200)
Jawbone’s Up products have gone through a bit of a revolution since the company acquired BodyMedia 18 months ago. Now the recently released Up3 and the cheaper, smaller option of Up Move seem to incorporate plenty of the newly acquired technological benefits.
The Up3 has a whole raft of new technology, such as a tri-axis accelerometer, a bioimpedance sensor, as well as skin and ambient temperature sensors. It can react to new activities that the wearer has previously not undertaken and allows for greater analysis of your sleeping patterns.
Bioimpedance is a type of sensor that measures the resistance of bio tissue (skin, ligaments, muscle) to tiny electrical signals. Because of changes in resistance with blood flow, it is able to measure heart rate, respiration rate and galvanic skin response.
Elsewhere, with a reported six months of battery life, the Up Move (about €70) offers most of the features from Jawbone’s other bands, such as movement tracking, but it lacks vibration notifications and smart alarm clock. However, at one third of the price, it’s far better value.
Fitbit Flex (about €100)
Fitbit’s Flex activity band is a more affordable wristband for your fitness regimes. Water resistant, it tracks number of steps taken, distance and calories burned during the day, and then monitors your sleep cycle at night. The Flex band can even be used as an alarm to get you up in the morning.
Stats from the Flex are uploaded wirelessly to either a computer or compatible mobile device so you can see how you’re doing, set goals and track your progress. LED lights on the wristband will let you know if a goal is reached during the day, and you can earn badges for your achievements. It comes in various colours, too.
Wearables you have to wait for
Microsoft Band and Health
Unavailable outside of the US just yet, the Band – working across Windows phones, Android and iOS – features a 24-hour heart-rate monitor that tracks the amount of calories the user is burning and also measures the effectiveness of sleep. Meanwhile, GPS allows tracking of routes and distance travelled with a particularly unique feature being its UV monitor, allowing it to determine what factor sunscreen you might need.
The Band has been designed to work in tandem with Microsoft’s newly announced Microsoft Health, which has been established to perform a similar function to Apple’s HealthKit, allowing a user to amalgamate all their health data into one place to build a bigger picture of the state of their overall health.
All this information will be stored in Microsoft’s HealthVault, which has been available for use since 2007, but will only now become more usable to the general public with the release of the Band.
This is one of the more highly anticipated wearable devices, due for release sometime in the spring. The Apple Watch, which can be navigated by sensors on the front as well as sensors on its back, features a winding device akin to a click wheel on its side, called the Digital Crown. The watch can send and receive messages, as well as answer calls from iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus smartphones.
The device will come in two sizes: 38mm and 42mm, and is spread across distinct collections – Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport and Apple Watch Edition. In terms of materials, the Apple Watch is available in custom alloys of polished or space black stainless steel, space gray or silver anodized aluminum and 18-karat rose or yellow gold. App developers are already getting their products in order. Expect this to be a big one.
Wearables we want to happen
Devised as a winter sports response to the increase of technology used in running and cycling, a team of entrepreneurs created Snowcookie.
One of 10 finalists in Intel’s ‘Make it Wearable’ campaign, the team’s ‘cookie’ is a small disk embedded with sensors that attach to the tips of both skiis. The Intel Edison technology-powered device tracks an athlete’s movement and speed, along with altitude, elevation, and even G-force. The data is downloaded onto the skier’s phone, so he or she can obtain feedback and improve skiing performance.
It could advise youngsters on their stance and, at a higher level, give skiers those subtle tips to get them across the line that little bit quicker.
Snowcookie founder Martin Kawalski, an orthopedist who has seen many accidents and broken bones he believes could have been avoided, studied the mechanics of ski injuries. He learned the body could give biofeedback that would greatly improve a skier’s safety and ability.
“It will greatly enhance the way people learn to ski,” says Kawalski. “It will make you a safer, better and more connected skier.”
Some ideas are so crazy we just want them to come true. The Ear-O-Smart is a product bidding to bypass ‘bulky’ wrist monitors. The ‘fashionable’ product is billed to help people looking through the ‘limited’ options available for wearables.
Ear-o-Smart connects to your smartphone with Bluetooth 4.0 wireless technology and allows you to monitor a wide range of fitness data, such as heart rate, calories, and activity level.
“Most fitness monitors are limited to wrist-based electronics. Would you want to wear a bulky wrist monitor to a party or on a date? We think not … ” says the company on its Kickstarter page.
“We believe that wearable electronics should be embedded into the products we use in our everyday lives; for that reason, we created Ear-o-Smart.”
Sign. Me. Up
Fitness wearable image via Shutterstock