Health and fitness is the dominant theme at CES 2016.
Health and fitness gadgets are starting to get a hang of this whole technological revolution thing.
Think of the technology that defines our current era: abundant and inexpensive hardware components and sensors, ubiquitous and advanced wireless connectivity, intelligent computing and storage in the cloud … and a smartphone to rule them all. No single category of apps and gadgets have put all of these trends to better use than the health and fitness sector.
And it’s not just fitness bands. Yes, FitBit may be the leader of the fitness tracking movement, but the entire health and wellness sector now seems to understand that intelligent and simple machines can be created to help people live better lives.
CES 2016 is full of capable health and fitness gadgets that take the new paradigm of technology to its logical—and imminently useful—conclusion. Here are 11 of the best health and fitness gadgets you may want to pay attention to in 2016.
Vert is a fitness tracker that is more concerned with how high you jump than how far you ran. Vert uses accelerometers and gyrometers to measure the total acceleration of your body through surge events. You know, like jumping. Vert has the ability to measure the rate of change of acceleration along with body dynamics to understand if you are performing optimally. Think of Vert as an intensity or surge measurement.
Vert is specifically tuned for athletes and has the ability to broadcast the results in real-time back to an app for analysis. Vert can even be used for in-game analytics, which could help sports announcers broadcast interesting stats and tidbits to viewers.
“It’s like a pedometer on steroids,” said Vert engineer John Mitts.
Baseball players, golfers, tennis pros and presumably cricket players all like to talk about “swing path.” The term means how well their bat, club or racket moved through the zone in which a ball was pass through. Good catchers in Major League Baseball will be analyze a hitters swing path from each plate appearance and tell the pitcher to throw a fastball or a curveball to a specific location. Batters analyze their own swing paths to make sure they are creating maximum velocity through the zone to make the ball go far, far away.
Zepp analyzes the movement of bats, rackets, clubs etc. to help players understand their performance. Zepp is a dongle that uses accelerometers and gyrometers with a Bluetooth connection to send data back a swing—its velocity, angle etc.—to an app where players and coaches can study and improve upon it. Zepp’s goal for 2015 is to embed the dongle into the actual bats/clubs (as opposed to its current silicon mount) and will be meeting with professional baseball bat makers at CES to turn the vision into reality.
The QardioBase is a smart scale for body composition. The scale, a round piece of glass a little more than a foot in diameter, uses software and algorithms to determine body mass index (BMI) and body composition. The QardioBase can also muscle mass, body fat percentage and water and bone composition.
In addition to being a smart scale, the QardioBase gives the user smart feedback so as not to worry about short term weight fluctuations and can be partnered with nutrition trackers to give a person a more holistic sense of their daily weight gain and loss.
Qardio also makes a blood pressure monitor (QardioArm) and an ECG heart monitor for daily use (QardioCore) which will be available in 2016.
MisFit produces fitness trackers with the innards more akin to an actual watch than a smartphone. The MisFit fitness band does not require charging (working on a standard watch battery) and does not show notifications. The band has the ability to show the time with a push-button analog display, but that’s about it. MisFit also touts itself as an advanced sleep monitor.
The MisFit is waterproof up to 50 meters depth and is generally small, sleek and attractive. The fitness band has its own app and MisFit has an open developer program so other popular fitness apps (like Strava or MapMyRun) can integrate into the device.
Belty Good Vibes
Perhaps the most interesting wearable scheduled to debut in 2016 is Belty. As you may expect, Belty is a belt. Produced by a team called Emiota in France, Belty thinks of itself as a high-end fashion accessory and a companion as much as a “wearable” technology device. When you ask what Belty does, the founders will joke, “well first, it holds up your pants.”
Belty and its accompanying app claim to use artificial intelligence and sensors within the belt buckle to track your activity and to keep you in good habits. Belty theoretically knows the context of your environment through learning algorithms and will prompt you to move with a vibration if you have been sitting too long. Belty will encourage users to be more active each day, walk more and walk faster.
Preorders for Belty are now available and it will ship during the holidays in 2016.
GymWatch is a fitness sensor from a group in Germany that aims to precisely measure the full range of motion and strength expended in every exercise a person could imagine in the gym. The GymWatch sensor is strapped to a person’s arms or legs to help monitor movement. For instance, imagine doing sets of cowbell lifts above your head. The GymWatch can know how well you are performing the exercise in terms of form and function and report it immediately back to its companion app for analysis.
GymWatch also has new integration with the Apple Watch a a companion app so that users do not need to bring their smartphones to the gym any more to record data as it is being created.
FitKat is a series of fitness bands out of Hong Kong that aim for contextual awareness. The Ultimo+, Edge and Pulse all perform exactly what you would expect from fitness bands in sleek packages such as heart rate monitoring, sleep tracking and smartphone notifications. What FitKat tries to do on top of the normal fitness band functions is understand the person that is wearing it and respond to external conditions. The FitKat can then send alerts to a person to help them adjust their behavior or surroundings. Are you dehydrated? Is your heartbeat too high for your level of activity? FitKat attempts to know the user to help them adjust for maximum efficiency throughout the day.
Taking somebody’s temperature has historically been an invasive procedure: stick thermometer into a human orifice and wait. The Withings Thermo is the next evolution of health monitors, a Wi-Fi connected, 16-sensor temporal artery thermometer that works just by placing it close to the skin. The Withings Thermo works by placing the thermometer next to the temporal artery at the side of a person’s head and uses its infrared sensors to accurately gauge a person’s temperature. The Thermo takes 4,000 readings in about two seconds and delivers that data via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to a connected app for analysis.
The Withings Thermo won two Best Of CES awards in 2016 and should fundamentally change how families and doctors take temperature measurements (especially of multiple people) in the future.
Urbanears Active Hellas Headphones
Everybody listens to music, books or podcasts while working out. Urbanears has some terrific headphones while doing it. The new Urbanears Active Hellas headphones are attractive and made for fitness and music geeks. The Hellas sport a stainless steel band, Bluetooth 4.0 and washable headband. The mesh around the ears allows for a certain degree of sound to get in so people can hear the environment around them for safety while running or in the gym.
It Bed By Sleep Number
Here is one thing I have never quite understood about fitness bands: they all claim to double as sleep monitors. A) Who wears a watch or a fitness band to bed? B) How can it really tell how well you sleep?
The new “It Bed” by Sleep Number really is a sleep monitor. The mattress has Sleep Number’s new “Sleep IQ” technology and sensors in it to track and monitor sleep and gives scores based on a person’s biometrics. You thrash around in your sleep? Yeah, your mattress probably is in the best position to know that. The Sleep IQ technology also has an API so that it can work with other health tracking apps, like a nutrition diary. The API will help come up with predictive metrics and results for people about their sleep habits? Ate a burrito and tossed and turned all night?
The It Bed also has foam-based Active Comfort (as opposed to air) to align the bed’s rigidity to a person’s preference. Sleep Number’s Kelly Parker said that the bed is aimed at Millennial first-time mattress buyers and is available online with shipping directly to a person’s house.
100 million Americans live with chronic pain. Quell aims to help them manage it.
The Quell is a square gadget that is wrapped to a person’s legs with a disposable electrode and uses natural pain relievers through electrical stimulation to reduce chronic pain. The Quell is calibrated once to a person’s physiology (the difference between a 110-pound woman and a 250-pound man, for instance) and the works automatically. The Quell aims for a more general sense of pain relief rather than targeted at a specific area. The Quell seems like a non-invasive, non-chemical method for chronic pain reduction, attuned specifically to an individual.