Posts Tagged ‘fitness’
Daily Roundup: Fitbit Force fitness watch, Twitter’s Event Parrot, Pantech Vega Secret Note and more!
You might say the day is never really done in consumer technology news. Your workday, however, hopefully draws to a close at some point. This is the Daily Roundup on Engadget, a quick peek back at the top headlines for the past 24 hours — all handpicked by the editors here at the site. Click on …
Fitness has been a part of the Kinect experience since the sensor was first released, but Microsoft’s upcoming Xbox One reinvents the experience from the ground up. In the past, users were stuck in a fitness video game featuring digital avatar hosts and odd virtual worlds. But Microsoft’s new and highly detailed Kinect sensor enables an entirely new type of interactivity on the Xbox One, making use of muscle mapping, balance calculations, and limb orientation detection. Fitness on the Xbox One isn’t just about awkward video game workouts with big motions like squats and lunges — Microsoft is trying to open up the platform to established exercise programs and create an experience based on perfect balance, form, and intensity.
Fitbits, FuelBands, and Jawbones don’t matter and neither does their data unless they make us healthier. That’s why Basis wants to build a platform that unites our fragmented quantified self data and mines it for healthy ways to improve our behaviors. So today Basis announced an $ 11.75 million extension of its Series B and the hire of Ethan Fassett, former head of platform at gaming giant GREE.
The idea of a health data hub isn’t new. The promise is that instead of having one piece of software for each of our devices, all our data flows into a central repository where insights can be gleamed that no single piece of hardware could provide. But all attempts have failed. Even Google couldn’t make it work. But Basis CEO Jef Holove thinks he knows why: They didn’t start with hardware people loved and needed.
Hardware, Software, Platform In One
That’s where Basis’ own multi-sensor wristwatch comes in. While Fitbit, the Nike FuelBand, and the Jawbone Up just use accelerometers to track your steps and overall physical activity, Basis also tracks your heart rate, perspiration level, skin temperature and more. It’s bigger and costs more, but does a lot more too.
Until now, the Basis has been back-ordered. But now the company has finally worked through its “high five-digits” waiting list and is starting to openly sell the Basis B1 watch to the public for $ 199.
The watch hooks into Basis’ software that collects all your data. But beyond the typical charts and graphs whose novelty wears off because they don’t really tell you much, Basis crunches its multi-sensor data to provide more serious health insights. It can give you actionable suggestions for how to modify your behavior, and encourage you to keep exercising, This combats the number one problem with fitness devices, which is that people stop wearing them because they don’t feel like they’re getting any real value out of it.
What could make those suggestions even better is data more other non-Basis devices and apps. So Basis plans to build a device-agnostic platform with Fassett’s experience and part of the $ 11.75 million it raised from Intel Capital (which will help it bolster its supply chain to crank out watches faster), iNovia Capital, Dolby Family Trust, Stanford University, and Peninsula-KCG, as well as previous investors Norwest Venture Partners, Mayfield Fund, and DCM. The funding expands the $ 11.5 million Series B that Basis raised in March, bringing it to a total of $ 32.3 million in venture capital.
Holove explains that “The platform we’re building is intended to be open. There’s no reason we couldn‘t have complementary devices contribute data and make habits out of that data.”
Becoming the central quantified self hub brings all sorts of opportunities, both to make the human race healthier and to make a lot of money, so it’s no wonder Basis was able to raise again. With its platform pre-populated with data from its own watch, Basis may have the gravity to attract data from other devices. And there are plenty of other devices on the way.
Surviving The Smartwatches
Beyond helping the Basis watch distinguish itself from other health hardware, its extra sensors and software are critical to it surviving the coming onslaught of smartwatches from Pebble Samsung, LG, Sony…and likely Google and Apple. Most have or will have accelerometers and be able to serve as rudimentary fitness trackers. They could make Fitibit obsolete.
The question is whether smartwatches will give so many of us a compelling reason to buy them that the industry can support a half dozen manufacturers or more. I’m skeptical. Most smartwatches seem to just make what we already do with our phones a tiny bit easier. Gee thanks, it now takes two hands to answer a phone call? One with the watch strapped to it, and one to press the buttons? That doesn’t sound worth my dollars yet.
Basis’ Holove agrees, telling me “If we’re going to ask consumers to wear technology, it must do something magical because you’re wearing it, that’s fundamentally impossible if you’re not wearing it. And I think smartwatches miss this.”
Basis couldn’t be in your pocket like a phone with an accelerometer. It has to be on your wrist to get the rest of its readings. And since Basis doesn’t just collect data but uses it to enhance your lifestyle, Holove says “When they look at it, the value is very clear. People know why they’re buying us.”
If you were placing bets on when the first app using the iPhone 5S‘ M7 motion co-processor would arrive, it’s time to cash in. Strava Run, the fitness application that lets you score your suffering (no, really), was recently updated to include auto-pause that relies on Apple’s new silicon, allowing a time-out on your activity when it senses you aren’t moving. The application also uses less juice now, which should make your iPhone a little more prepared for a marathon. You, on the other hand, may need to recharge somewhere during those 26.2 miles.
Via: The Verge
If you don’t fancy buying a wearable or investing in a phone with a fancy motion chip, then Moves might be for you. The activity tracking app sits in the background and learns your daily routine, presenting your movements as a timeline for later study. While it’s already been downloaded 2.5 million times on iOS, it’s launching on Android devices running 4.0 or above from today. It’s available for the princely sum of nothing from Google Play, so there’s really very little excuse not to at least give it a go.
We know you’ve got questions, and if you’re brave enough to ask the world for answers, then here’s the outlet to do so. This week’s Ask Engadget inquiry is from Michelle, who’s worried about the lumber she’s carrying and if she can be doing more to exercise. If you’re looking to ask one of your own, drop us a line at ask [at] engadget [dawt] com.
“I’m worried that I don’t get enough exercise, or even walk around enough during the working week. I’d love to be able to measure my activity and know when I’ve had a really slovenly day. Keep up the great work!”
Firstly, we’d say that there’s no one device that’s perfect for everyone. If you want motivation, then Strivv’s option of donating cash to charity the more activity you make is a great option. If you want pure data collection, then the Withings Pulse and Fitbit One are more likely to suit your tastes. Then you’ve got Jawbone’s Up and Nike’s Fuelband, which offer lifestyle features and stylish hardware to the mix. Of course, that’s just our brief summation, now let’s turn this over to the commenters and see what they say, eh?
Filed under: Wearables
Fitness bands are a dime a dozen these days. Everyone has one, it seems, from audio manufacturers like Jawbone to upstarts like Fitbit and Basis. Now the EB Sports Group, a company that makes fitness devices under a number of brands including Everlast and Men’s Health. I’ve historically been wary of “no name” bands like this one – bands that are created to cash in on a trend rather than from an effort to create a software/hardware ecosystem, but I’ll give this unit a pass for a few reasons.
The most interesting aspect of the Burn is its 1-year battery life. As a regular Fitbit user, I would kill for a device with a fully readable screen that can last longer than two weeks, let alone 365 days. The device is basically a digital watch and is about the size of the Pebble smart watch. The button on the top right controls the readout – you can tag workouts, see your hourly energy expenditure, and see exercise history. The lower right button activates the sync features which, in turn, activates a low energy Bluetooth transmitter.
There is a central button on the bottom of the watch that doubles as a read-out control and heart rate monitor. You can scroll through calories burned, steps taken, and miles walked. If you press and hold the button, however, the watch measures your heart rate. This, in turn, helps estimate calories burned. It’s a wonky system and you have to press fairly hard with your thumb to get a reading but – and this is important – it works 99% of the time and helps conserve the battery.
The Burn is a product of trade-offs. It is a unique product – a quick visit to Alibaba didn’t turn up any similar, unbadged watches – and I’m pleased with the battery life and simplicity of use. To really get the most out of the device, however, you can sync it with an app called MapMyFitness, a free app (with a $ 29.99/hear training add-on that comes free with the watch for six months) that tracks your runs. By syncing with the app you can simply add your daily walks to the MapMyFitness database. You essentially get a screen like this:
Obviously this isn’t much better than any similar pedometer product but the heartrate monitor built in puts it on par with more expensive devices, like the Basis, and the lower-priced, $ 99 Withings Pulse. At $ 130, however, I’m hard pressed to recommend this over, say, a Fitbit Flex or the Pulse. Because of the odd choice to support only MapMyFitness, a popular but not particularly well-integrated piece of software, and the weird method for actually measuring the heart rate, the watch could end up being more trouble than its worth.
I used this primarily as a pedometer, checking my heartrate rarely during the day. To sit there and press and hold a thumb on the sensor is unfortunately too distracting while, say, taking or a walk or going to the gym. I far preferred the Basis’ always-on sensor or even the Fitbit’s overall passivity.
In terms of styling the Burn looks like any other sports watch with a nice red and black color scheme. The screen is a bit dark and unreadable at acute angles but I always enjoyed being able to read my steps taken with a simple direct glance at the watch, something almost none of the other fitness devices offer.
What’s the bottom line? If you’re a fan of MapMyFitness, this could be a solid addition to your regimen. If you’re a fan of a more developed ecosystem I’d recommend the Basis, Nike+, or Fitbit over this device. It’s a clever, nicely built sport-watch/fitness band but it just doesn’t have the depth of data and support afforded by other devices.
And the battle to build quantified self gadgets rages on. The newest entrant is one that isn’t exactly new to the space — Withings has been churning out smart scales and body analyzers since 2009, but it recently decided to set it sights on Fitbit and Jawbone with a new, $ 99 wearable fitness tracker called the Pulse.
The particulars should sound familiar: the Pulse is a tiny (it weighs in at 8 grams) thing with a touch-sensitive OLED display that’s worn on your person and measures the steps you’ve taken, calories you’ve burned, and how long you’ve slept. Oh, and to top it off, you can press your finger to the Pulse’s rear end to figure out your heart rate. Neat trick.
Familiar though that formula may be, Withings brings something rather neat to the table though: a hardware ecosystem (if a small one). The company’s background in smart scales means it’s capable of adding some crucial context to the activity data the Pulse is able to collect — a more accurate picture of a person’s fitness level and the effect it actually has on the body. Media darling Fitbit has so far struck to a similar strategy, albeit one that ran in reverse — the company spent years honing its Fitbit wearables before releasing the Aria scale in 2012.
That said, Withings is no stranger to cooperation with other quantified self players either. Companies like Fitbit and Jawbone have made it a point to partner with Withings so they can incorporate weight data into users’ accounts. It’s a natural fit considering that a person’s weight represents a crucial bit of information that those company’s respective gadgets can’t really figure out on their own.
Honestly though, for a company that’s been nothing if not eager to add value to other wearable gadgets, it’s a little strange to see Withings take a shot at the market themselves. These days it seems like nearly every fitness-focused company is trying reinvent to the pedometer, but it takes some serious expertise to turn a pint-sized selection of sensors and components into a product worth using. The development process may have been a bumpy one too — Withings first showed off that activity tracker (encased in Plexiglass no less) back in Las Vegas at CES 2013, and here we are about five months later with only the option to pre-order the thing.
For all the question marks that come with the Pulse, Withings may actually be onto something here. If the company can nail the experience of aggregating data across its hardware lineup and feeding it all into its accompanying app (not to mention the 100 or so partner apps floating around out there), Withings may just be able to pull ahead of a sizable pack.
Back at CES, Withings revealed its Smart Activity Tracker, a competitor to the many wearable fitness-tracking devices on the market like the Fitbit, Nike Fuelband, and Jawbone Up. It was supposed to launch by the end of March, but the company has just now started taking pre-orders for the device. The newly-named Withings Pulse is now on sale for $ 99.95, and the company says it should ship within the next 30 days. It otherwise looks nearly identical to what we saw at CES this year — much like the Fitbit line of activity tracks, the Pulse keeps tabs on your steps, distance, elevation climbed, and sleep cycles. It also lets you measure your heart rate by inserting your finger into the clip on the back — a feature that perhaps gave the…
Most app developers have few incentives to build their own hardware, let alone the resources. With 25 million mobile users, Runtastic has both — so it only makes sense that the company is bringing a slate of complementary exercise gear to the US for the first time. The initial catalog won’t shock cyclists and runners who have ever toyed with tracking their progress, but it’s certainly complete. Along with Runtastic’s take on a GPS watch ($ 150), there’s also an app-friendly heart rate monitor ($ 70), a speed sensor ($ 60), an armband and a bike mount. While the peripherals only truly make sense for Runtastic loyalists, they’re available today through Amazon — and they might seal the deal for athletes who want a harmonious blend of hardware and software.