It’s January, which means thousands of techies and startups recently descended on Sin City to experience CES, the ultimate holiday for industry and the launch pad for some of the innovative gadgets you’ll be lusting after in 2014.
This year, fit-tech took the driver’s seat with the release of countless new wearables, trackers, and systems all promising to push your wellness to the next level, and make you the best you possible.
From trackers that vow to quantify your life beyond the number of steps you take to bedside lights that wake you up, CES 2014 had it all. If keeping track of all these new gadgets has your heart rate tracker showing a BPM through the roof, we’ve got you covered. Read on for our CES fit tech wins and items we’re most excited about.
• Longer-lasting, better-tracking wearbles. Wearables were all the rage in Vegas this year, with new models promising to measure beyond calories burned and steps taken. Two of our favorites, the Sony Smartband and the Garmin Vivofit seek to be your executive assistant or personal trainer.
Sony’s Smartband (release: spring, price: TBD) is driven by the uber-small but powerful Core – a tiny chip that can be transferred between products. The Core links into the company’s Lifelog app which tallies aspects of your daily life, such as that song you just heard or that picture you just took. Log into the app and you’ve got a 360 view of your life. Don’t worry, it still tells you if you aren’t walking enough.
The Garmin Vivofit (release: Q1; price: $129.00 basic package, $169.00 heart rate monitor package) looks to take your fitness to the next level. With its sleek app function, the Vivofit pushes you to reach your personal goals and then some. The device sets an attainable but challenging goal for you, then once you hit your mark creates a new goal. Bonus – unlike any other wearable, the Vivofit will hold a charge for a full year.
Honorable mention: The Polar V800, the first-ever GPS activity tracker watch and a win for tri-athletes (release: April, price: $449.95 basic package, $499.95 heart rate monitor package).
• Headphones that do more than pump your jams. Headphones are one of those accessories we often take for granted. Responsible for powering you through your workout or helping pass your commute, they’ve only ever had one job to do – til now. LG’s new headphones, the Heart Rate Earphones (release: first half of 2014, price: TBD), not only blast your favorite song but measure your heart rate while doing so. Outfitted with an integrated sensor, the earphones work alongside the company’s new wearable, the Lifeband Touch to tell you just how hard you’re working and your oxygen consumption. They also make phone calls and relay data to third-party fitness apps such as MapMyRun. Looks like your earbuds better step up their game.
• Portable fitness equipment. Til now, if you wanted an on-the-road strength workout you were forced to suck it up and hope the hotel gym had some kind of weight lifting capabilities or carry along a fitness band. The TAO WellShell (release: TBD, price: TBD) changes that. A small, computer mouse-sized pocket tracker and portable isometric trainer, the TAO WellShell is a perfect fit for road warriors and desk jockeys alike. You simply press on the device with your hands, knees, etc. to build strength and improve fitness. When you’re done, pop it in your pocket and it acts as a fitness tracker, all supported by a smartphone app.
As President and co-founder Philo Northrup tells the Daily Beast in an email, the idea behind this new device is what TAO CEO Dr. Kosta Yanev has coined “Variobics ™ - a variable, measure and active exercise based on isometric principles.”
The company, which received a Digital Trends “Best of CES” nomination is in the early stages of product development, but is already in talks with developers to develop games and other ways to infuse some fun into your workout using the WellShell. Binge watching House of Cards just got so much healthier.
• Easier morning wake ups. No one likes their morning wake up call, but with their latest innovation, Withings is hoping to make yours a bit more pleasant. The Withings Aura (release: spring 2014, price: $299 for the first sensor, $129 for the second), the latest development from the maker of the clip-on Pulse activity tracker, looks to science for the best timing, sound and lighting for your morning wake up.
As Withings CEO Cedric Hutchings tells the Daily Beast in an email, “sleep is an essential part of the equation of a healthy lifestyle… The Aura will help users see their sleep patterns in concrete form and help them learn what they do in their day to make it better or worse.”
Featuring a sleek, bedside light and a small mat placed under your mattress, the device will work seamlessly with other Withings products to provide a full understanding of your health.
If CES is any indication, fit tech seems to be here to stay. But what’s next? Expect sleeker and more seamless trackers that do more and integrate more fully into your daily life, making it easier to reach your wellness goals and stay motivated, or at least know what you should be doing to stay in shape while you enjoy your beer and French fries.