Some of the very coolest innovations that captured our imaginations at the 2014 International CES this past week were in the realm of wearable fitness tech. In fact, you can hardly open an article about CES without seeing a ton of buzz and excitement about it. Not a big surprise considering one of the best ways to motivate people to get active–and stay active–can be the promise of actual data on your accomplishments.
So on behalf of our partner Whirlpool, a big sponsor of innovations themselves, we’re thrilled to share our very favorite ones from the show. Not just because the technology is impressive or they they look cool, but because they really seem worthwhile, whether you’re just starting out to get in better shape or you’re a seasoned marathoner.
Jawbone UP and Fitbit Flex? You have competition. Wait until you see what these can do:
Jaybird Reign Activity Tracker (at top)
One major fitness wristband wonder is the Jaybird Reign, which tracks both activity and sleep, and can differentiate between exercises (though apparently not to the extent of the Atlas fitness tracker, below). It also uses heart rate data to help gauge your activity and rest levels. That is, Reign can tell when your body is rarin’ to go (even if your spirit isn’t yet willing), and when you really ought to take a rest day. Such a smart way to help get you moving or to prevent overtraining and possible injury.
Pros: Tracks activity including swimming and sleep; analyzes data to evaluate capacity for activity and need for rest; iOS/Android/web app
Cons: Heart rate monitoring details unknown; compatibility with other fitness apps unknown
Availability + Price: Anticipated summer 2014, under $200.
The Shine takes much of what the Reign does but makes it more flexible and prettier too. The 1-inch aluminum disc comes in grey, black, topaz, and champagne (to match your outfits of course, dahling). Plus you can wear it on a clip, a sport band, a leather band, or as a necklace, which is a huge advantage for those of us who value style along with health and fitness. The disc tracks distance and duration, and then syncs with the Shine iOS app when you place it on your device screen, which is pretty cool.
Pros: Tracks activity including swimming and sleep; variety of colors and ways to wear Shine
Cons: No heart rate monitor; activity tracking affected by how and where Shine is worn; not yet compatible with other fitness apps
Availability + Price: Starts at $119.95 on the Misfit Wearables website which includes disc, sport band, and clasp
Like other heart rate monitors, the Mio sport watch lets you know when you’re working too hard, too light, or just right, all based on your target heart rate zone. But what’s amazing to us about the Mio is that there’s no annoying chest strap. Seriously! The Mio uses optical sensing technology–plus other super geeky design and software advances–to determine heart rate with EKG-level accuracy.
Heart rate training is the best way to maximize results of exercise according to doctors and world-class athletes, and the Mio makes it so much easier and more comfortable.
Pros: Extremely accurate heart rate monitoring; no chest strap; connects to a wide range of fitness apps
Cons: Does not track workout type, distance, or sleep; cannot be used while swimming; requires Bluetooth 4.0; a little clunky and masculine
Availability + Price: $199 on the Mio website
Atlas Fitness Tracker
Atlas is an outrageously innovative fitness tracker designed to tracks activity on the x-, y-, and z-axes–meaning running, biking, swimming, weight lifting, and other exercises qualify; plus it monitors your heart rate without a chest strap. What’s really special is that inertial sensors can tell the difference between movements, so it knows exactly what exercises you’re doing, even counting the number of reps and sets, along with distance and duration. Whoa. We’re not sure how the heart rate accuracy of Atlas compares to the Mio ALPHA, but we’re super impressed by everything the Atlas is aiming to pack into one wristband device.
Pros: Goes well beyond tracking calories or distance; heart rate monitoring without a chest strap; connects to both the Atlas app and other fitness apps
Cons: Does not track sleep; heart rate accuracy may need work; compatible only with phones with Bluetooth 4.0
Availability + Price: Atlas Indiegogo page predicts shipping at the end of the year, under $200
With the Lifeband, LG takes an innovative dual approach, including a wristband to track activity plus earphones that monitor both activity and heart rate. The earphones can be used on their own, with a sensor that monitors blood flow to determine heart rate, and an accelerometer to track activity. The data syncs with the LG Fitness app, and it’s also displayed on the Lifeband Touch. While the band is tracking activity, we love that you can also control your music and your phone, which is helpful whether you’re working out or not. It’s not as stylish as the Shine or the Reign, and it doesn’t track sleep, but in combination with the earphones, we can see this duo being most appealing to serious athletes.
Pros: Tracks activity (not swimming); heart rate monitoring without a chest strap; music and phone controls on band; compatible with other fitness apps
Cons: Does not track sleep; not waterproof
Availability + Price: Available first half of 2014, prices rumored to be around $179 each
We love the idea of encouraging kids to pay attention their activity too, and hey, kids love tech and gamifying activity, making ibitz is an incredibly clever way of motivating them to get up and move. The gadget clips to the shoe (or a belt loop) and syncs to an iOS app via Bluetooth 4.0. Parents can set up rewards for kids based on activity levels, and kids can also earn coins on Club Penguin. Parents can get their own in matching colors too, though no Club Penguin rewards for you.
Availability + Price: $35 for kids and $50 for adults on the ibitz website.
Thanks to our partner Whirlpool for sponsoring our post series on Innovations at CES. Also visit our post about Whirlpool innovations to see the Whirlpool 20/20: Your Future In Focus campaign at work, including some cool new kitchen tech, including a mind-blowing concept for the kitchen of the future.