Hi-tech Fitness Trends Summer 2018

Hi-tech Fitness Trends Summer 2018

It's 2018!  We still can't upload our brains to fitter bodies, but there are tech-assists out there that can help us live fitter lives.   I've picked out a few of the most promising for SiriusXM:

Exercise Gear

An awful lot of exercise equipment ends up being used as expensive, guilt inducing places to hang one's clothes.  Why do we get exercise equipment, only to let it collect dust.   Peloton sees equipment as only part of the equation for successful home exercise.  For instance their excellent Bike ($1995) is designed to be supplemented with a subscription to their online classes.  The bike will track your progress, but the real magic comes from the ability to join live sessions or participate in on-demand classes that feature a variety of exercise intensities shown on a 22" monitor built into the bike.  In addition to the spin classes, there are also workouts that sync to filmed outdoor scenic routes, plus off-bike exercises as well.

 Coming later this year, the Peloton Tread ($3995) will bring a similar experience for runners.  Featuring an even larger 32" screen, the Tread brings motivation in the form of round-the-clock classes and on-demand video just like their bike.   Just be aware that there is a monthly subscription fee in addition to the purchase price.  Those  videos may be available 24/7, but they won't do much for you unless you get on the treadmill and use them.  It is available for pre-order now at onepeleton.com.

Maybe you already have an exercise bike.  Did you know that Peloton also has a subscription based ($12.99 per month)  app for iOS devices that gives you access to live workouts and on-demand classes.

Sensors

 UnderArmour HOVR Sonic Connected Running Shoes ($120) are really comfortable sneakers in their own right, but they have a bonus feature: an onboard chip records your run, even if you're not carrying your phone with you.  They can sync up to a provided MapMyRun app when you get home if you don't want to carry the extra weight.  If you do carry your phone, the chip-enabled running shoes can do even more, providing you with "spoken" guidance as your run and GPS mapping of where you've been.  The program can help you find and maintain your best cadence and stride-length.  The app works with Android and iOS, so there's no excuse not to get moving!

 Swim.com is an app that works best with one of the many supported smartwatches, though it can also manually record your sessions on a smartphone.  However, when synced with the right device it can track your workout time, length of your swim, stroke count, rate, laps, and much more.  Coming later this year, Swim.com will also support the Spire Swim Wearable is a sensor that will fit inside your bathing suit that will record your swimming sessions via the Swim.com app.  According to the manufacturer the on-board battery will outlast the life of your swimsuit and has the advantage that you don't have to press any buttons or switch it on:  Just put on the suit and start to swim and it will track your data.  At press time we don't know how much it will cost or what Swim.com functions will be supported.

 Jabra Elite Sport True Wireless Waterproof Fitness & Running Earbuds with Heart Rate and Activity Tracker ($199) These sports earbuds do more than just play music.  Sensors track your heart rate, cadence, caloric burn, speed, and more.  The new version claims better than  four hour battery life on a single charge.  Speaking of charging, they come with their own case that doubles as a charger.

Tech for your health

Tech isn't just for exercise; it can help keep you safe and healthy.

 Nima Gluten Sensor  ($229) is a pocket sized device that claims to analyze food for Gluten in 2 to 3 minutes.  You put a small amount of food in a disposable sensor and it does the rest.  Keep in mind that the cost of the product only includes a 12-pack of the test capsules.  After that you'll need to order more, and they aren't cheap at $72 per 12 pack.  The company is also coming out with a peanut sensor later this year. 

 Hip’Safe (649 Euro) is a wearable airbag that for seniors designed to protect them from hip fractures.  Worn like a belt, the manufacturer claims that sensors can tell if a person is falling and automatically deploy the safety bag before the user hits the ground.

 Aftermaster Pro ($179)  is a device that sits between your cable tv box and/or DVD player and your TV set.  It is designed to dynamically remix the sound to improve the audio, particularly making the spoken dialog easier to understand while maintaining (and even improving) the general sound quality of your devices.  It turns out that our sometimes difficulty understanding what is being said isn't always because of hearing loss.  It could just be that the audio mix is not optimized for our home.  I was skeptical of this device.  It has not controls, you just plug the HDMI cable into it and another going out to the TV.  You might need to plug it into the wall for power, but on some sets it can get its juice from a USB port on the TV.  The results are immediate and unmistakable.  I found it much easier to watch movies and shows without needing to turn on closed captioning.  Even if you don't suffer from hearing loss, you should try this wherever you watch TV.

 Virtual Reality

I've talked extensively in the past about the VR enabled bike from VIRZoom ($399) that was designed for home use. I still use mine almost every day.  You ride the stationary bike while playing a number of games using the VR headset to transport you to various game worlds.   It is fun and motivational, plus it keeps track of your progress and sets daily and weekly goals.

 A number of companies, including VIRZoom are now equipping gyms with VR devices.  Two that are in development are:

 Icaros Home System (2380EU) looks something like an updated version of a medieval torture device, or maybe a go-cart frame without any seat or wheels.  You lie flat on the device with arms and legs outstretched while wearing a VR helmet.  What you see and experience gives the impression that you're flying through the air, giving you a gyroscopic workout while you play.

 Black Box VR intends to gamify the entire gym experience.  The company intends to open boutique VR gyms where you'll workout much as you do now on weight machines, but while wearing a VR helmet that will transport you to the game world.  The machines are designed to respond to your movement, increasing difficulty as you improve, tracking your reps, and keeping your motivated. 

 You can get a pretty great cardio workout at home with any number of VR games. AudioShield, Thumper, and Beat Saber (in early access)  are similar rhythm based games that have you swinging away at targets that move to the music.  You'll find them all on Steam. You will be sweating, I promise you.