With advancing technology and information addicts aplenty, it was just at matter of time before heart rate monitors moved beyond pulsing hearts and flashing digits.
The new Eon Series "fitness monitors" from Acumen not only measure heart rates but also tout a "Fluid Check" technology that keeps tabs on a user's hydration level. The technology, Acumen says, is based on an algorithm that takes into account air temperature, humidity, age, body weight and exertion level to recommend when and how much you should drink to keep dehydration at bay not only for better performance but also for better health. How does it work? You're churning out the last few miles on a hot day in a muggy gym or on a dusty trail, and if the monitor senses you're going dry, it will emit an alarm to remind you to take a swig from that ol' water bottle.
"Clearly there is a lack of understanding about the importance of fluid replacement," Acumen spokesperson Michael Weinstein told SNEWS, pointing to the likes of football players who die in practice every summer. "People don't realize that proper hydration can have an unbelievable impact on performance."
Acumen technology consultant and elite triathlete John Putnam spent eight years developing, testing and being granted a patent (1999) for the Fluid Check system that Acumen says is the only high-tech feature of its kind to assess hydration needs. He has researched the system with researcher Steve Fleck, Ph.D, of Ohio State University. Weinstein compared the Fluid Check program's accuracy and application to the maximum heart rate formula (220-your age); while not necessarily foolproof, it is based on a significant sample size and is fairly accurate for most folks.
The Eon 200 Series, starting at $189 for a rubber face and wristband, has heart rate monitoring with target zone settings, Fluid Check, and other features such as a stopwatch, interval timer and 50-lap memory. The Eon 300 Series consists of more stylish sports watches with Fluid Check that begin at $129 and can be outfitted with heart rate monitoring for an additional $99. Snazzy titanium models also are available.
Introduced in March, the monitors will be carried soon at retail â€“ including specialty fitness -- and in catalogs, the company says, by later this month. In addition, OEM distribution is something that Acumen will address down the road.
"OEM production is a very big part of Acumen's business, and I am sure that this technology will find its way to other related fitness products in the near future," Weinstein said.
Acknowledging that the education and acceptance process among the masses may take a few years, Acumen is initially targeting athletic trainers and fitness professionals through PR and advertising; the company has even talked to Gatorade about work together.
"People are getting more attuned to listening to what their bodies are telling them," Weinstein said. "It won't happen overnight, but there are lots of opportunities here. This makes a lot of sense."