Outdoor, fitness products shine at Consumer Electronics Show

The International Consumer Electronics Show recognized its market is increasingly asking for products for activity and health by launching the first Sports, Fitness and the Outdoors Summit and Exhibit as part of the 2011 main event. SNEWS talked to summit presenters, show organizers and peeked at a selection of award-winning products.
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The International Consumer Electronics Show recognized its market is increasingly asking for products for activity and health by launching its first Sports, Fitness and the Outdoors Summit and Exhibit as part of the 2011 main event in Las Vegas, Jan. 6-9.

The world’s largest consumer technology trade show (www.cesweb.org) included a half-day outdoor/fitness conference on Jan. 7 (www.sportsandfitnesstech.com) with athletes and enthusiasts, retailers and distributors, medical experts and policy makers in the industry. Two-time snowboard cross gold medalist Seth Wescott gave the summit’s keynote address, and talked about the role of technology in his sport.

There was no shortage of fitness and outdoor products at the 2011 CES, which in total featured about 2,700 exhibitors and more than 100,000 attendees.

“Say goodbye to digital couch potatoes,” said Robin Raskin with Living Digital Times, which presented the fitness and outdoors technology event at CES. “Whether you’re summiting K2, taking a leisurely bike ride, diving the deep seas or just watching your caloric intake, fitness has gone high-tech.”

Raskin told SNEWS® the key technologies for the energetic consumer at this year’s CES have been GPS and location-based tools, along with motion sensors, smaller and faster processors and mobile or satellite-enabled communication devices that allow instant information and sharing with social networks.

“You’re also seeing products like the TV go from a sedentary device to an active fitness monitoring device giving you feedback on exercises,” she said. “The motion sensor technology has become so good, that it can stop you mid workout and say, ‘No, you’re not doing that lift correctly.’”

CES is paying more attention to the fitness and outdoor segments after one of its recent Consumer Electronics Association surveys showed that half of U.S. consumers have used fitness technology in the past year, and another 37 percent plan to purchase one in the next 12 months, Colleen Lerro, a spokeswoman for the association, told SNEWS. The study also found that consumers who use fitness technologies view exercise and fitness more positively than those who don't, she said.

Award winners…

Several outdoor and fitness related products on display at this year’s CES garnered top honors for their innovation, including:

• Zeal Optics and Recon Instruments Transcend GPS Goggle – This piece is called the world's first alpine goggle with real-time GPS, environment, and performance data viewable through a head-mounted display system. The completely self-contained goggle (MSRP $399, polarized lens; $499, polarized and photochromatic lens; photo - left) has a tiny LCD screen in the lower right-hand corner of the goggles displaying information like speed, time, temperature, altitude and total vertical distance powered by an imbedded GPS receiver and rechargeable seven-hour battery. Users can then download their data to the computer to review and map their runs.

The challenge was to make the screen unobtrusive, safe and well-designed to the goggle, said Michael Jackson, co-founder and designer at Zeal Optics. The Boulder, Colo.-based, company teamed up with Canadian technology firm Recon Instruments to develop the product, which quickly sold out after its limited debut in October 2010. Its second release is scheduled for mid-January 2011. 

Nike+ SportWatch GPS – A collaboration product between Nike and TomTom, this product combines the accuracy of GPS with the shoe-based Nike+ sensor to track time, pace, distance, calories burned and heart rate (photo - right).

The new watch, which debuted at CES and will be available April 1, replaces the bulky alternative of strapping your iPhone to your arm. Its simple design features only three buttons and a tap screen to quickly set laps or activate the backlight. The Nike+ SportWatch GPS captures location information along with performance data, which later can be uploaded to NikePlus.com to map out runs, track history and personal records, set new goals and interact with an online community of almost 4 million runners around the world.

• DeLorme Earthmate PN-60w with SPOT Satellite Communicator – The world's first handheld GPS is capable of sending custom one-way text messages using SPOT satellite technology.

The two-piece product (photo - left; MSRP $549.95, plus $99.99 for a one-year SPOT services subscription) is ideal for outdoors enthusiasts who want to communicate from remote locations beyond the reach of cell phone coverage, said Charlie Conley, marketing manager for DeLorme.

The SPOT Satellite Communicator allows the Earthmate PN-60w to send one-way messages to cell phones or social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Users can also allow others to track their backcountry progress on Google Maps.

“What separates our solution is that we’re targeting the outdoor market,” Conley said. “Cell phones aren’t well-suited to the rigors of the outdoors, and our waterproof solution is the first to enable custom type-and-send text messages for delivery from locations around the world.” 

• Kodak Playsport Video Camera / Zx5 – a rugged pocket-sized video camera that shoots 1080p HD video and takes 5-megapixel still images. It’s shockproof, dustproof and waterproof up to 10 feet underwater.

The camera (MSRP $179.95; photo - right) also features built-in image stabilization to smooth out rough rides, an underwater white balance to produce true-to-life colors in the pool or ocean, on-camera video editing and the ability to make a picture from a video frame, and a one-touch share button to share to email or social networks when hooked up to a computer.

The Playsport ZX5 is expected to be available by late March

For other award winners, click here to see a partial list with photos, descriptions and links

…and beyond.

Other fitness and outdoor trends and products at CES that caught our eye, included:

>> Body fitness and health monitors that communicate with your iPhone or iPad.

Digifit (www.digifit.com) presented its line of apps that connect to a variety of fitness and health sensors like heart-rate monitors using Ant + (www.thisisant.com), which also presented at CES with new technologies to transmit active data on the go. Body fitness monitoring companies Body Media (photo - right; http://www.bodymedia.com/) and Tanita (http://www.tanita.com/en/) also displayed their latest products in the category.

CES_BodyMedia_FITcrop.jpg

>> Tougher and smaller imaging and real-time performance information products for the rigors of fitness and outdoor activities.

Rugged, waterproof, coldproof, shockproof, dustproof cameras like Pentax’s (www.pentaximaging.com) Optio W90 or Camsports’ (www.camsports.com) line of extreme sports cameras and recorders are ready for the outdoors. Fitness Technologies (www.gearedtobefit.com) boasted its smallest underwater UWaterG2 mp3 players and Finis (www.finisinc.com) showed its new Swimsense body performance watch for swimmers.

>> Motion sensor gaming, instruction and feedback for fitness workouts through the television. What began as fun gaming is now turning into serious workouts. EA Sports (www.easports.com) presented its latest Active 2 product version for the XBOX 360 with Kinect. The program, in conjunction with XBOX’s Kinect camera, tracks total upper and lower body movements and allows users to incorporate their own resistance bands and dumbbells into the workout.

Click here to read more on the Sports, Fitness and the Outdoors Summit.

--David Clucas

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