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Tag Archives: Fitness

Cardiio Application Measures Heartbeat, No Contact Required

Arthur C. Clarke once said that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” That’s certainly true of a mobile application that’s able to give you your heart rate simply by looking at you, with no physical contact required. No straps, nothing. Cardiio simply uses slight changes in your face’s reflectivity to calculate how fast your heart is beating. It seems the iPhone 4S’s camera is sensitive enough to detect the change in colour to the skin on your face related to an increase in blood flow, which occurs with every beat of your heart. It works with all skin tones and works best with an iPhone 4S, though other iDevices should still manage, albeit at a reduced performance.

It’s $5.

[ Product Page ] VIA [ CoolMaterial ]

I’m Writing For HP, And I Have A Post Up

So… I was contacted by HP. Turns out they have a website called InputCreatesOutput, which is mostly about enterprise IT. They asked me if I could contribute and I was like, “oh yeah!” So my first article on there is The Wonderful World Of Fitness Tech: How Gadgets Are Making It Easier To Stay In Shape, which is not about enterprise IT at all, but hey, it’s close enough. It’s a quick survey of the field of tech gadgets; it’s stuff many of our regulars have seen on here, but all in one place. Give it a look if you fancy, it’s got a serious tone to it (my contribution to the “enterprise” label, I suppose) that you don’t often see on OhGizmo.

[ Check out my article on HP's website ]

[CES 2012] Basis Wristwatch One-Ups FitBit And Company

By David Ponce

Now that the technology is maturing (read: getting small enough), more and more gadgets are being conceived with the goal to track our health and make it more fun and interactive to stay fit. I reviewed the Fitbit Ultra and came away reasonably impressed. But at Digital Experience here in Vegas I saw something that could knock it out of the water. It’s a wristwatch and it’s called the Basis. The reason it’s cool is that it tracks more than elevantion and steps taken (the Fitbit’s two metrics). Being a wristwatch, it’s able to keep tabs on your heartrate, your temprature, your sleeping patterns and your galvanic skin response, as well as the number of steps taken. These five metrics are then fed into the company’s algorithm and spit out a more accurate, more granular picture of your overall health. We didn’t get down into the nitty gritty of what exactly they mean by “health”, but the fact that they track five metrics as opposed to two (three if you actually bother to put the Fitbit on your wrist to sleep), makes the Basis a more compelling product in my eyes.

It doesn’t currently connect to the cloud through Bluetooth, though that’s in the works. It’s a USB affair for now. And it’s $200 on pre-order, with shpping sometime in Q2.

[ Product Page ]

eButton Tracks What You Eat, How You Sleep, Helps Your Not Be A Slob

By David Ponce

To borrow Greg Giraldo’s words, we live during an obesity epidemic. An epidemic! And as some astute readers might have noticed, consumer electronics manufacturers are jumping at the opportunity to help you combat the cheese cakes and fried chicken with a bevy of gadgets. We personally took a look at the FitBit, a small plastic device which tracks your every step and reports online. It was a great little device, but it was only able to tell you how much you walked and how many steps you took. Now, thinking heads at the University of Pittsburgh claim to have developed a similar gadget, but one that one-ups all the others by being able to automatically record what you eat, where you’ve been, how long you sat your bum in front of the TV or a computer, how long you were outside, which restaurants you visited and what you ordered. It’s called the eButton and represents the end of the era of self-accountability. We’re not entirely sure just how it goes about determining your calorie intake automatically, but Mingui Sun, lead investigator and Pitt professor of neurosurgery and electrical and computer engineering, says the eButton uses “cameras, GPS and an array of other sensors” for the task. We bet they’re using Mechanical Turk.

In any case, the eButton is not ready for prime-time as it’s in the middle of a study to determine if it actually, you know, works properly.

[ Press Release ] VIA [ Medgadget ]

OhGizmo! Review: The FitBit Ultra

By David Ponce

It goes without saying that getting fit and leading a healthy lifestyle is hard, not only physically but also psychologically. Staying motivated is probably the most difficult aspect of it, so every little bit of help counts. For us geeks, something like the Fitbit Ultra is great since it gives us an easy way to track and graph how we’re doing. It’s a tiny device that you attach to your clothing and which logs your every movement: how many steps you take, how many floors you climb, even how soundly you sleep. It then beams all this information to a server and packages the data in ways that make it fun and interesting and more importantly, useful.

I’ve been using the device for the past week or so and have come away fairly impressed. For all the details, hit the jump.

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PowerWheel Bike Wheel Ironically Designed To Make Your Ride Slower

PowerWheel Bike Wheel (Images courtesy SlowWheel)
By Andrew Liszewski

With a device called a PowerWheel attached to my bike I’d expect to be easily pedalling my way up steep mountain courses, or even towing cars out of ditches. But instead of making your ride easy, the PowerWheel is designed to do just the opposite. It’s a complete wheel designed to replace the standard one on your bike while you train. And thanks to a specially engineered hub, pedalling, even at slower speeds on a level road, becomes far more strenuous.

As to how strenuous is up to you, since the PowerWheel can be adjusted between 7 different levels of resistance, or completely disengaged when you’ve had enough. It’s even clever enough to automatically disengage when you’re riding slower than 6mph so the bike is easier to handle at slower speeds. And the same happens above 30mph, to prevent the resistance mechanism from overheating. Pricing and availability are still TBA, though, a simpler version known as the SlowWheel will also be available. While it only has 3 resistance settings, it’s also designed to be more affordable for those not training for the next Ironman race.

[ PowerWheel ] VIA [ Gizmag ]

FitDesk – Another Exercise While You Work Solution

FitDesk (Images courtesy FitDesk)
By Carole Sinclair

I’m just as un-keen on exercise and work as the next… well… everybody. So picking off these two birds with one stone is always the dream. Our desk-based work days have been blamed for their fair share of our oft-lamented ‘sedentary lifestyles’, and solutions like those office-chair-bouncy-ball-thingys don’t suit everyone’s tastes. (*Rubs tailbone*) We’ve probably also all seen other uber-fit solutions like working at a computer while walking on a treadmill. But doing that for 8 hours straight can be grueling at best, and a safety hazard at worst.

Enter the FitDesk. It’s an exercise bike with a usable desk attached where you’d normally find the handlebars. You’re technically still sitting and working while using it, but you’re also pedaling, building muscle and burning calories throughout the day. With a treadmill workstation, when you decide to stop walking you’re either left standing and working for hours at a time, or risk admitting that you’ve abandoned yet another exercise endeavor. But when you take a break with the FitDesk, you’re still comfortably seated, leaving you plenty of endurance to keep exercising and building up the strength to eventually win the rat race. (Or at least place respectfully.)

The resistance of the pedaling can be adjusted for a more intense workout as desired, and the whole unit folds up so it can be stashed away in a closet if used at home. Unfortunately I don’t see a way to secure the laptop, which is a little worrisome given it sits perched pretty high, and an untimely fall from your sweaty hands could easily be its demise. I guess that’s where duct tape and bungee cords come in. It’s also $229, which is kind of expensive for a pretty basic exercise bike. Even with a built-in ‘desk’.

[ FitDesk ] VIA [ 7Gadgets ]

The RoundTail Bike’s Circular Rear Frame Provides A Far Smoother Ride

Tortola RoundTail Bike Frame (Image courtesy Tortola)
By Andrew Liszewski

Bikes designed for off-road trail riding feature thick tires and robust suspension systems to cushion the rider from all the bumps and vibrations they encounter. But road bikes, which are designed to be low-profile and light, are lacking such amenities. And unless you exclusively ride on a perfectly smooth track in a velodrome, you’re still going to encounter pot holes and other bumps on a road. The traditional bike design we all know and love features a triangular rear frame, which unfortunately is quite effective at transferring vibrations and bumps from the road to the rider. Which can lead to fatigue and soreness. So inventor Lou Tortola (who hails from my hometown) started to rethink the traditional road bike design.

What he came up with was a pretty simple, but radical improvement on their design. Instead of keeping the bike’s overall diamond geometry, he replaced the rear part of the frame with a set of circular rings. It changes nearly nothing about how the bike goes together or how it operates, but has a dramatic effect on how it rides. With the RoundTail frame, vibrations and shocks from the road are transferred to the two metal circles, where the energy follows along their circumference until dissipated. Instead of traveling up to the rider. In tests, the RoundTail frame has been found to absorb 60 times more vibrations from the road than a standard frame, allowing riders to spend more time riding before they start feeling any discomfort.

[ Tortola RoundTail Bike Frame ] VIA [ Popular Science ]

Scosche myTREK Measures Your Pulse Without The Need For A Chest Strap

Scosche myTREK (Images courtesy Scosche)
By Andrew Liszewski

Typically, the only way to get an accurate measurement of your pulse while exercising was to have a monitor strapped to your chest, which was then connected to some kind of display for monitoring your performance. But Scosche’s new myTREK does away with the chest strap, instead moving it to your forearm where it’s more comfortable to wear. It’s also completely wireless, connecting to your iPhone or iPod over Bluetooth (with a range of ~30 feet) feeding information about your pulse and motion to an accompanying free myTREK app.

And it’s that app that will probably make the myTREK system appealing to persons who are very serious about their physical fitness. Besides displaying your pulse, the app also tracks everything from calories burned, distance run, speed and pace (when used with a GPS-equipped iPhone) over time. So you can go back and compare your results and stats to previous workouts to see how you’ve improved. And while exercising, the app even lets you set specific workout goals, like a target heart rate, complete with voice prompts letting you know how close you are to reaching it. Available now for $129.99.

[ Scosche myTREK ]