Everybody and Their Dog Has a Fitness Tracker

Becky Worley and Brad Marshland
Yahoo News
Everybody and Their Dog Has a Fitness Tracker

You’ve seen fitness bands that track your steps, count your calories, and clock your mileage. But at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), fitness and health monitors have taken over more floor space than ever, with well over a hundred companies presenting new devices claiming to improve your well-being, and that of your kids – even your dog.

Fitness as Fashion

It seems like every company is jumping on the “band” wagon, offering Bluetooth-connected, wristband fitness trackers. In addition to the usual suspects, like Fitbit and Jawbone, LG is debuting the Life Band, Sony has the Smart Band – but all of these companies are starting to realize that accurate technology is only half of their business. The other half is embedding the technology in designs that people actually want to wear. So Sony’s Smart Band (no price yet) comes with a removable Core, which you can place into different colored bands to match your workout outfit of the day – or even put it into a stylish pendant. The Shine ($99) from Misfit Wearables looks like an ethereal watch, and is also available as a necklace.

No Longer Tied To Your Wrist

Of course Google Glass now has a fitness app, but what interests me more is the integration of fitness monitors into devices you might actually want with you when you’re working out – like your earbuds. LG will be releasing its Heart Rate Headphones this spring (no price yet). In the past, you needed to wear a chest strap to get heart rate info, so this is a really smart advancement for those of us who want lots of workout data. In addition to tracking your pulse, distance, and calories burned you can use the device to, why yes, listen to music even when you’re not exercising.

Don’t Forget to Charge Your Basketball

Some of the most dramatic innovations in fitness tracking aren’t even worn on your body. The 94Fifty connected basketball ($299) contains six sensors that combine data to track arc, spin, and force when you shoot and dribble. The Bluetooth connection relays the information to your iOS device, and provides immediate suggestions for how to improve your shot. In my case, after just one shot, it suggested I increase my arc. Next shot – SWISH! Three times in a row!

Similarly, the Babolat Play connected tennis racket ($399) tracks your forehand to backhand ratio, spin, first serves made, etc. Devices like these encourage you to share results with friends for friendly (or unfriendly) competition, and to strive for your personal best. Gamifying is the word the industry uses here, and for sports it makes sense “How does a numeric assessment of my game compare to Rafael Nadal’s?” On second thought “How does my game compare to other 43 year old moms around the country?”

Not Just for Grownups

  • The ibitz activity trackers ($35) attach to your kids’ sneakers and link to an app where parents can set goals and rewards for steps taken – rewards like credits and content on Club Penguin.
  • The Mimo onesie ($199 for three onesies and one interchangeable monitor) tracks your baby’s breathing patterns, body temp, and sleep.
  • And for your dog. Voyce ($299, plus $15/month) is a collar that records activity, heart rate, and calories burned. Because your dog doesn’t quite have a voice of his own.

Value in More Gadgetry?

As Yahoo Tech’s new editor-in-chief David Pogue puts it, “It’s not that all these monitoring devices somehow turn you into an athlete. But by constantly displaying what a sedentary couch potato you are, it puts it in front of mind. You park farther away. You take the stairs. You get off one subway stop earlier. It really works. It’s a psychological trick more than a technological one.”

Hey, it works for me- I’m off to rack up another 10,000 steps walking around CES. Follow me on Twitter to see what I find.