CES 2013: Fitness tracking devices get smarter

Fitness trackers set to be released into the market later in 2013 just debuted at the Consumer Electronics Show — and they're way more than glorified pedometers. The next-generation trackers are smarter, sleeker and some even ask questions.

The annual Consumer Electronics Show, which took place in Las Vegas last week, is notorious for launching cutting-edge technology in all industries. We’ve been following the news from the show floor and keeping an eye out for innovation.

More and more consumers are tracking their workout statistics, and the newest gadgets at CES showed that users want their devices to be smarter, measure more and help them in ways the old devices don’t.

It seems like fitness trackers are getting more intimate, some even asking you how the day is going or offering tips. Plus, tracking devices are now found in apparel and earphones, making them multitasking products, rather than one-trick ponies.

Track your workouts and listen to music with the Iriver On Earbuds by Valencell. You don’t have to have two separate pieces of equipment when working out. There is a piece of the earphones that goes around the back of a user’s neck to measure vitals during a workout.

Some devices are doing more than measuring calories burned. One, the Scanadu Scout, measures a person’s vital signs including their blood oxygenation and electrical heart activity by holding the device up to one's temple. Plus, it comes with disposable saliva testing kits that scan for infections. The gadget will send the information directly to your smartphone. It’s set to release at the end of 2013. 

The Basis tracker looks like a watch, and tells time, but it’s considered a “smart fitness tracker,” according to Popular Science, meaning it thinks. It tracks sleep, heart rate, motion, skin temperature and sweat levels. It’s lightweight, stylish and customizable. The data is uploaded to a cloud service that interprets the data for users.

Another stat-tracking device that doesn’t do the same old things is the Lark Life Wristband, which measures all the standards like movement, calories burned and hours spent sleeping. Yet it also prompts users with questions throughout the day to find out what their mood is, and then offers tips on how to make the day better in addition to monitoring nutrition information. 

While it doesn’t include a saliva testing kit, the FitBit Flex, which is set to release in the spring, is the fitness tracking company’s response to the Nike Fuelband. In addition to the features of the original FitBit and FitBit Ultra, the FitBit Flex measures the quality of your sleep and comes with a USB dongle to download stats to a computer.

Striiv Play is another fitness tracking device that tracks users steps, activity minutes, distance and calories burned. That information can be uploaded to a cloud service to create a graph of progress. Striiv ties into a cloud service that generates graphs and reports of fitness goals and progress. 

Even the standard bathroom scale seems like it might be obselete as new products measure a lot more than just body weight. Withings Smart Body Analyzer comes in. This product measures body mass index, weight, body fat percentage and resting heart rate. In addition to measuring what’s going on with a user’s body, it measures what’s going on in the environment in which it’s being used, such as the room temperature and CO2 levels. It then syncs this data to your smart devices. 

But CES 2013 gadgets weren’t all about tracking fitness statistics, they also monitor how much you’re eating.

Most of us know when we’re overeating, but our silverware doesn’t tell us. Well, it does now with the HAPIfork, a fork that vibrates when you’ve started to overeat. It’s not set for production yet, but there’s currently a Kickstarter campaign to get it up and running.

--Ana Trujillo



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