One of my Twitter buddies recently joked that the ideal fitness device will be a neck collar that monitors the food going down your throat and then chokes you when you hit your calorie limit.
These devices don’t do that. But they may get you to hum the tune to “Chariots of Fire” when you exercise and motivate you to take an extra step or two. After all, they track your every move, and they won’t lie to you.
Take it from me: These are powerful motivators, and any one of them would be a good choice for you or your loved ones.
Basis Health Tracker, $199
This wristwatch health tracker from Basis Science packs a lot of technology. It uses an accelerometer to track your steps. It has a galvanic skin sensor to detect your sweat. It has an optical blood-flow sensor to track your heartbeat. It has a skin temperature sensor and an ambient room temperature sensor, so it knows if you’re hot because you are exercising or because you’re in a hot room. It also monitors when you’re sleeping and knows the best time to wake you up.
You can log onto the Basis Science website and study your stats via a cloud-based web service. The service focuses on actionable information, like reminders that you’ve been sitting in a chair for 40 minutes. The site tells you more about why it’s important to get enough sleep and allows you to drill down into the data to see patterns. With all of that data, you can learn what impact your physical activity has on your body, such as how it stirs your heart rate. Basis Science says that, due to overwhelming demand, it has stopped taking orders and will be shipping current orders in early 2013.
This second-generation device from Striiv can clip onto your clothing. It’s so small you’ll forget it’s there. The blue digital display shows the number of steps you’ve taken. It communicates with your iPhone via Bluetooth, so you can run Striiv’s iOS app to learn more about your habits. You can use the iPhone app alone to track your steps, since the phone comes with its own accelerometer. But the Striiv pedometer also has an altimeter, which can track how many stairs you climb in a day.
The pedometer tracks your steps and the app calculates how many miles you’ve walked. It also shows how many calories you’ve burned in a day, but it does not have access to your heart rate information. The app includes a fantasy-oriented role-playing game called MyLand. If you complete challenges, you earn points that you can then spend on goods in the fantasy world. Striiv says the new app can run in the background of your iOS device, and it won’t drain your battery.
On a bad day, my Striiv app step counter will tell me all of the steps I didn’t take. But on a recent trip to London, I managed to walk more than 36,000 steps in a single day. That was about seven miles and is equivalent to about 22 percent of the walking I usually do in a month. One of these days, I want to beat that all-time record. And I’ll gladly return to London to do it.
Fitbit One, $99
The folks at Fitbit are on their third device since they created the Fitbit Classic pedometer in 2008. Now the Fitbit One can track your steps, distance traveled, calories burned, stairs climbed, and your sleep. The device screen (which shows only a number) tells you how many steps you’ve moved.
The new device clips to your clothing easily. It syncs wirelessly with your smartphone via Bluetooth, or you can sync it via USB or Wi-Fi on your computer. You can look at your stats on the web. It’ll also teach you how to sleep better and will wake you up in the morning. It has a nice ecosystem of other devices, including the Fitbit Aria Wi-Fi scale and the Fitbit Zip for tracking kids.
You can set your own goals and challenges with the Fitbit One. Check out fellow VentureBeat writer Devindra Hardawar’s review here, in which he compares the One to the Jawbone Up.
Jawbone Up, $130
The first Up didn’t fare so well, since production problems made the device glitchy. Jawbone issued refunds and pulled it off the market. But it reissued the device recently. This time, the device isn’t as susceptible to water damage.
You can use it to track your steps, distance moved, calorie count, activity time, and activity intensity. It also tracks your light and deep sleep as well as your waking moments.
It comes with a bright iOS app that allows you to study your stats. And you can also use it to track your meals and share pictures of what you’re eating with your friends. If you really want to find out how many calories you’ve consumed, you can do so by checking against a big food database.
The battery lasts for 10 days, and the design is water-resistant. If you take a nap, it will wake you up at the optimal time, around 26.5 minutes. It reminds you to move when you have been inactive for too long. It has no display, so you can’t check your movements while on the move. You also have to sync it to your iPhone by plugging it into your headphone jack. Check out our review.
This baby from Lark tracks your steps and distance moved. It also tracks the type of exercise, the amount of time you spend doing it, the calories you burn, and when you started and stopped. If you have been inactive for a while, it will send you an alert to get moving. It tracks your sleep and offers you coaching about it.
As a diet logger, it tries to reduce the dullness of manually entering the meals you eat. It has a list of foods, letting you log what you eat with the touch of a button. You can also tap the screen to log that you have drunk a glass of water. This set of features about food intake is crucial to completing the loop of information about your activity, your body’s reaction to it, and refueling. However, it’s easy to forget.
If you remember, then Larklife can remind you of the best time of day for you to eat and how much you should eat.
Nike+ FuelBand, $150
The new Nike+ FuelBand gadget is a wristband that allows you to capture data on a variety of activities, like tossing a Frisbee or throwing a football. It collects information on exercise time, calories burned, steps taken, and overall movement. You wear it all day and transfer the data to the Nike+ web site through a USB or via your iPhone.
You can set a daily NikeFuel goal and track your progress. It syncs with the Nike+FuelBand app, which you can use to track your activity history and connect with friends online. Like the Fitbit One, the wristband has a display on the plastic. It can tell you the time, your goal, your steps walked, and other text-based information. You can share your achievements via Facebook, Twitter, and Path. It also just launched a NikeFuel Missions game, which is an attempt to “gamify,” or motivate you to do more exercise through entertainment.
You wear this watch-like band around your upper arm. The device is a third smaller than previous armbands created by BodyMedia. You can see the stats on the optional display device. It claims it has the “most accurate calories burned” number. An online subscription of $6.95 a month is required after a free trial period. The device comes with a wireless link.
Sensors track your motion and capture 5,000 points of data per minute, such as your sweat level, the rate at which heat leaves your body, your galvanic skin response, and skin temperature. With this data, BodyMedia calculates the calories you burn throughout a day. It also captures info on your sleeping patterns such as how long it takes to fall asleep. It gives you steps taken, calories burned, and your sleep patterns.
This one is for professional athletes. Mio Global says this heart-rate monitor and wristwatch is the first performance-level strapless monitor that can measure your heart rate accurately at up to 12 miles per hour. It uses optical blood flow technology to sense the volume of blood under your skin. This measures your heart rate and calculates other data such as speed, distance, pace, and location. You can connect it via Bluetooth to your smartphone.
The device is not available yet, but the company says it is launching soon. Pricing details haven’t been disclosed yet.
This is a “compression shirt” that has sensors for tracking an athlete’s biometrics. It captures heart rate, breathing rate, lung capacity, acceleration, body positioning and motion. The device has an accelerometer, microprocessor, and built-in storage, and it connects wirelessly to any smartphone, tablet, or computer.
The circular device in the middle, dubbed “the bug,” contains a computer, hard drive, and accelerometer. Under Armour is targeting college and pro sports teams with the shirt. It isn’t available just yet.