Gadgets

BodyMedia launches beefed up health-tracking armband

BodyMedia is launching a cool looking health-tracking band that you can wear on your arm. The new BodyMedia Core 2 band packs four sensors into a small housing.

We’ll see a lot of such health-tracking devices at the Consumer Electronics Show this week in Las Vegas, where press events are already underway. But BodyMedia promises it will be the smallest wearable multi-sensor device of its kind and the first to offer a choice of interchangeable jewelry.

The housing for the device is smaller than an iPod Nano music player, and you can attach cool looking faceplates, straps, and cuffs to make it look more fashionable. It features sensors to measure heart rate, temperature, heat flux, galvanic skin response (sweat), and motion. The three-axis accelerometer gets an accurate measure of your steps. Altogether, the system uses the data from the sensors to calculate your calorie burn, exercise intensity, and sleep patterns.

The original Core armband was used on The Biggest Loser television show to track the fitness of contestants. The new device has energy-saving Bluetooth Smart technology that allows it to send activity updates to your smartphone or tablet. It can do so with longer battery life.

With the smartphone and tablet, you can use an app that makes sense of the data and interprets it so you can make smarter decisions about food, exercise, and other things health-related. The company is showing a prototype at CES for the first time today, but the new model won’t ship until August.

The system is not unlike the just-launched Basis Health Tracker from Basis Science. Other rivals have also hit the market, but BodyMedia has upped the ante by adding so many sensors, which capture more than 5,000 data points per minute. The heart-rate monitor is an extra option that you have to purchase separately. The monitor is included in an accessory strap with an embedded heart-rate sensor.

Besides the armband, the system comes with a free mobile app, an online Activity Manager that you can log into via the web, and personalized feedback with the BodyMedia FIT coach. The web site gives you historical data about your activity and sleep, with dietary adjustment recommendations based on your weight goals.

BodyMedia says its earlier monitoring technology has been clinically validated, improving weight loss up to three times over behavioral support alone. It is FDA-registered as a medical device. BodyMedia was founded in 1999 and is based in Pittsburgh, Pa. CES press events are being held Sunday and Monday, and the show floor opens on Tuesday.


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