Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Polar M600 Android Wear fitness smartwatch - waterproof, GPS, optical HR, touch screen

The upcoming Polar M600 is the type of Android Wear fitness smartwatch that I've been waiting for. Waterproof. GPS. Touch screen. Optical HR. Made by Polar.

At a glance, it may somewhat resemble the Polar V800 or M400, but don't be fooled. The M600 is a modular Android Wear that is suitable for swimming (thanks to its novel proprietary charging connector) and incorporates Polar Smart Coaching features to help you achieve your optimal fitness performance. You can swap color bands.

There aren't that many waterproof Android Wear watches that are suitable for swimming. If you don't need that level of water resistance, then you'll probably be fine with other Android Wear watches like the Moto 360 Sport. However, if you're looking for a serious fitness smartwatch that can handle the swimming pool, then wait for the M600.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Garmin vĂ­vosmart HR+ now with GPS

Garmin is aggressively trying to catch up with Fitbit in the activity wearable market. Garmin has launched a host of new devices recently and the latest addition is the vivosmart HR+ which includes built-in GPS (along with built-in optical heart rate, activity monitoring, smart notifications, etc.).

At some point, the line between an activity tracker and a smartwatch gets blurred. The vivosmart HR+ has many features that are found on a smartwatch, but Garmin is not positioning this device as a smartwatch. It's listed as a "Smart Activity Tracker with Wrist-based Heart Rate plus GPS." I think I'd call it a smartwatch.

If you don't need such a small and slim device, then the Garmin vivoactive HR might be a better buy since it's listed as a "GPS Smartwatch with Wrist-based Heart Rate." The vivoactive HR can run some proprietary apps based on the Garmin ecosystem of the Connect IQ "app store."

Monday, April 25, 2016

Fitbit and Corporate Wellness Programs

Fast Company has an interesting article about how Fitbit grew its presence in the corporate wellness arena. "How Fitbit Became The Next Big Thing In Corporate Wellness"

It's really encouraging to see busy working professionals embracing the importance of health, wellness, fitness, and nutrition. At the same time, it's critical for corporations to recognize the sensitivities and privacy concerns that some employees may have, especially if they are unable to actively participate in fitness challenges. The other reality is that some employees may be "gaming" the system and using dishonest tactics to artificially increase their step counts (unfitbits).

Some examples of corporate fitness challenges to motivate their employees to move:
BP AMERICA: The Million Step Challenge
More than 23,000 employees enrolled in the com­pany’s challenge, and nearly 2,000 surpassed 2 million steps within a year. Employees who reached step goals earned points toward eligibility for a lower-deductible health plan. 
KIMBERLY-CLARK: Live Well Challenge
As an incentive for completing biometric screenings, employees were challenged to take 10,000 steps a day. Forty-seven percent of participants increased their cardiovascular fitness; 50% of them lost weight and increased strength  and flexibility.
The next major step will be to link physical activity parameters with key clinical parameters such as weight, glucose and cholesterol levels, etc. Some insurance companies are doing this to see the direct correlation between physical activity and wellness. That should help to filter those employees who are trying to game the system by cheating (see unfitbits).

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Garmin fenix 3 now comes with an optical HR option

Recently, Garmin announced that they will be selling a version of their popular fenix 3 fitness watch with an optical heart rate (HR) built-in so that you don't need to wear a separate HR monitor. Garmin has added the optical wrist-based HR feature into several of their GPS running watches. However, serious runners may still choose to wear the Garmin HRM-Run strap around the chest since the HRM-Run also provides:

  • Cadence — the number of steps per minute. It displays the total steps (right and left combined).
  • Vertical oscillation — the bounce in your running motion. It displays the vertical motion of your torso (measured in centimeters).
  • Ground contact time — the amount of time in each step that your foot spends on the ground while running (measured in milliseconds).
I'm not sure if we'll ever see all these metrics accurately captures from a wrist-based device (you can easily capture cadence, but I'm not sure about the vertical oscillation or ground contact time). 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Are you still wearing that activity tracker you got for Christmas?

In 2015, wearable fitness/activity trackers were very popular gifts. In fact, they were so popular that Fibit became the #1 app on the Apple App Store right after Christmas.

Surveys have shown that the average person will use a wearable fitness device for approximately 3 months. Some will lose their device. Others will lose motivation to wear it. A few will see the health benefits and persist beyond 3 months.

We're almost 2 months out from Christmas. The gyms are still packed with people who are trying to stick with their New Years resolutions. Some have made resolutions that involved dusting off and recharging the old activity tracker that had been sitting in their drawer.

I went away from wearing a dedicated activity tracker in the early part of 2015 and moved to wearing different types of smartwatches that have built-in activity tracking. So, whether I'm wearing Android Wear or a Polar V800, I'm still capturing my activity level and beaming that data to the cloud.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Using Tictrac to aggregate data from several wearable fitness activity trackers

The wearable fitness/activity tracker landscape is analogous to the health IT work of electronic health records (EHRs). There are challenges with the interoperability of data. If you use a Fitbit, you can share data and compete against other Fitbit users. If you have a Jawbone UP, you can't operate within the Fitbit ecosystem. Although these trackers may collect similar data like total # of steps and calories burned, they run on proprietary sets of data living within their own ecosystems.

Some trackers and fitness apps use an open API so that you can link your data with other health and fitness apps (like Google Fit or Apple's Health app). Under Armour is probably leading the pack since MyFitnessPal and MapMyFitness both integrate nicely a number of wearable trackers and fitness apps. In some instances, you may end up with duplication of data (especially if you are using several platforms).

There's another option for those of you who are serious about quantifying your data: Tictrac

Tictrac syncs with the activity trackers and fitness apps that you already use. The Tictrac platform delivers high user engagement because it has been developed by a unique team that combines practical expertise in user experience design, behavioral economics, data science, and predictive analytics.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

CES 2016 - a host of new wearable fitness gadgets

At CES this year, a host of new fitness wearables were announced. More of the fitness wearable manufacturers have finally started to turn the corner and evolve their gadgets from being functional, utilitarian devices around our wrists to stylish fashion accessories.

Here are a few fitness wearables from CES 2016 that caught my attention:

Fitbit Blaze - color screen, stylish bands and straps, smart notifications
Misft Ray - a fashionable bracelet that uses a cylindrical design for its sensor
Garmin Fenix 3 HR - added optical heart rate to the GPS-enabled multisport watch
Under Armour HealthBox - fitness tracking band, weight scale, HR monitor
Casio Smart Outdoor Watch WSD-F10 - waterproof and rugged Android Wear