Top 5 Wearable Fitness Technology Gadgets 2017
Wearable fitness technology has hit the market with unprecedented impact. In a couple of years or so, interest in fitness trackers has skyrocketed resulting in a corresponding burst in the number and variety of fitness wearables available in the market. Fitness tracking has become so central to wearables that even smartwatches are being designed with fitness monitoring as their main theme.
If you are shopping around for the right fitness tracker, there are numerous options available. Most are designed for ordinary users who want to monitor their daily activity (steps, calories, heart rate etc.) and regular workouts. Others are designed for serious training and provide more in-depth metrics and insights than other trackers. You can also choose a tracker based on budget, style and various other factors.
To help you get started, we are going to look at some of the best wearable fitness trackers in the market. We also include a brief buying guide further below.
1. Misfit Vapor
Misfit has always gone for a simple but unique style in its wearables. With Vapor, the company opted for a more standard touch screen. But it still comes with the same signature classic style of other Misfit products. The fairly small OLED screen is crisp and thankfully, lacks the annoying flat tire design of some other smartwatches.
On the functional side of things, the tracker runs on its own operating system. The company says there will be apps for the Vapor but we will have to wait until it launches later this year to see what kind of apps it packs. Inside, the watch is packed with a number of sensors including GPS, an altimeter, an accelerometer, a gyroscope and an optical heart rate monitor.
With all these packed inside, it sounds like the Misfit Vapor is designed for serious and pro athletes. But the company says the Vapor is for ordinary users who also want to track their fitness and daily activities. That is why there is as much focus on Smartwatch features (notification, apps, music etc.) as on ‘fitness tracking features’ (heart rate, GPS etc. ).
One other big feature is the built-in music player. No need to carry your phone with you when you go on your morning run. The company does not however, say how much internal storage will be provided for your favorite running tracks. Also note that you’ll need a pair of Bluetooth earphones or headphones to play music. The watch does not have any speakers on it.
Overall, Vapor is a Smartwatch cum fitness tracker that tries really hard to balance on every area and largely succeeds. It is cool and stylish, a seemingly good fitness tracker (final judgment to be made when the watch launches), and a decent Smartwatch.
2. Garmin Fenix Chronos
We could not complete this list without mentioning Garmin, an undisputable king of premium fitness wearables. In fact, we have mentioned it twice. First, we will take a look at the luxury-styled Fenix Chronos. Function-wise, the Chronos is very similar to the Fenix 3 HR. Design-wise, things get touched up a bit and a lot more expensive.
There are three versions of the Chronos to choose from. There is one with a Titanium Hybrid Band for $1,499.99 (or £1,169.99), another one with a brushed stainless steel band for $999.99 (or £999.99) and a third one with a leather band for $899.99 (or £899.99). If you love Garmin but prefer something more stylish than their usual rugged designs, the Chronos is for you. It also has much more to offer below the glitzy surface.
A 1.2 inch always-on color display graces the top of the main body. It is crisp enough to read even in bright sunlight. When it comes to fitness tracking, Chronos is designed mostly for outdoor sports rather than daily activity monitoring. It contains a host of sensors to help you track your outdoor adventures and find your way around.
There is a 3-axis compass to help you maintain your bearing, a barometer to measure air pressure and predict weather changes and an altimeter to track your elevation. It is also equipped with GPS to help you navigate your way around. Included is a TrackBack feature that guides you back exactly the way you came. This means you can go on outback adventures without worrying about losing your way. The GPS is supplemented by GLONASS for accurate and quick location tracking wherever you are.
There is of course a heart rate monitor built into the watch. The watch uses your heart rate reading to calculate amount of calories burned, track your sleep and measure intensity levels during workouts.
On the ‘smart’ side of things, Chronos can receive various notifications from your smartphone including calls, texts, alerts and emails.
3. Garmin Edge 820
Garmin is not all about running, they also have some really good trackers for avid cyclists. The Edge 820 is one of the best. It boats a wide array of smart features and more comprehensive metrics than you will find on most bicycle computers.
The design is quite simple with a lightweight and rugged build designed to survive the outdoors. A 2.3-inch touch screen provides a vivid display of important metrics and can be viewed even in bright sunshine. A built-in ambient light sensor automatically changes the display brightness depending on lighting conditions.
A GroupTrack feature comes in handy for a riding pack that wants to keep track of each other. When you get on the road, the Edge 820 provides in depth monitoring with a whole host of metrics. These include Strava Live Segments, VO2 max, recovery advisor, speed, cadence and others. If these are still not enough for you, the Edge 820 is compatible with ANT+ sensors meaning you can connect a hear rate monitor, power meter and other sensors.
One of the biggest features of the Edge 820 is the turn-by-turn navigation provides on-screen. The computer can guide you around the best bike routes and show you the path ahead. If you love biking in new places, this is a big plus.
For safety, Garmin has added a number of features to help riders stay safe and aware. For one, it has incident detection capabilities. You can also connect it to other safety gadgets including Varia Vision, rearview radar and smart bike lights. There is also the option of sending your location to an emergency contact in case you get in trouble.
4. Bragi Dash headphones
Another form of wearable technology is starting to emerge. Headphones are no longer just for enjoying music, companies are coming up with ingenious ways to fit them with several sensors for fitness and activity tracking.
Bragi Dash headphones are not a perfect product; they still have a few issues. But they have opened the door to yet another way to help people keep track of their activities and monitor their fitness.
The completely wireless headphones provide the basic communication and entertainment benefits of Bluetooth headphones. When connected to a Bluetooth-enabled device you can listen to music and take calls hands free. You can also navigate between tracks and issue voice commands without picking up your phone.
For activity tracking, the headphones are embedded with a total of 23 sensors. The left piece is used to control all tracking functions (the right is for music). Tapping on the earpiece a number of times sends a specific command to the headphones. It is confusing at first but you will soon get used to it. A beep will confirm your selections.
The headphones provide dedicated tracking for three activities: running, cycling and swimming. For running and cycling, you never have to worry about wires getting in the way of your arms. An in-built heart rate monitor measures your workout intensity and calculates the number of calories you have burnt. Motion sensors will track your steps, distance, duration and speed.
To see all collected metrics, you have to open the accompanying app on your smartphone and review your workout. As for the battery, a single charge will last you through the day with the downside that activity tracking is turned off when you are not working out.
The Bragi Dash headphones are far from perfect and they have plenty of limitations. But for anyone who wants nothing to do with wrist-worn fitness trackers, this is one alternative to consider.
5. Lumo Lift
Have you ever considered your posture to be an important part of your overall fitness and health? Well, the Lumo Lift is here to remind you exactly that. The small device attaches to your clothes and gently guides you in developing a better and healthier posture. But that is not all; it is also an activity tracker.
To start off, you need to attach the Lumo Lift to your shirt using a magnetic clasp. Once you set your target posture, it vibrates gently whenever you veer away from it. So whenever you find yourself slouching at the desk, it alerts you so that you can correct your posture. You can see how you have been doing on the Lumo Lift app available for both iOS and Android.
For activity tracking, Lift tracks your steps, calories and distance. You will be required to enter various details on the app including weight, sex, height and age. This allows algorithms to properly calculate various metrics. Despite its size, the Lift is surprisingly accurate making it ideal for those who want a simple activity tracker with the added bonus of being a posture coach.
FAQs on Wearable Fitness Technology
Being a relatively novel industry, a lot of people are still confused about the whole wearables thing. There are so many products in the market, all touting their strengths and offering a mishmash of functions. Most people are concerned about accuracy and whether these wearables can actually help them get fitter. If you still feel like a newbie when it comes to fitness wearables, here is a quick rundown of commonly asked questions with clear answers.
1. What exactly do fitness wearables do?
Simply put, they help individuals monitor their fitness. This can range from tracking how many steps you take every day to tracking your morning workout session. Of course, many fitness wearables will offer extra functionality such as smart notifications, social networking and music playback.
2. How do they measure various fitness metrics?
Almost all fitness trackers will measure the basics which include distance, speed, duration, number of steps and calories. Trackers designed for serious athletes will have more comprehensive metrics such as VO2 Max and ground contact time.
To measure all these things, these devices are fitted with sensors such as an accelerometer, GPS, heart rate monitor, altimeter and so on. The data collected by these sensors is then passed through algorithms to end up with the final metrics.
3. Are they accurate?
Accuracy is a big concern in the industry and one where companies are constantly trying to improve on. Some trackers are more accurate than others. For instance, a chest strap will be more accurate at monitoring your heart rate than a wrist-worn fitness watch.
The most important thing is to research and find out whether a specific tracker has accuracy issues. Some brands including Garmin and Fitbit are generally good at creating accurate devices.
4. Are they all worn on the wrist?
No. Most fitness trackers are bands, bracelets or watches worn on the wrist but there are other trackers that can be worn on other parts of the body. In our reviews above, we mentioned headphones, a clip-on posture and activity tracker and a bicycle tracker. None of these are worn on the wrist. Some trackers offer flexibility allowing users to wear them on the wrist or clip them on their clothes.
If you do not prefer wrist-worn trackers, there are plenty of alternatives out there.
5. Will they really help me get fitter?
This is the ultimate question. It has been debated over and over again with no clear answer. Some people seem to benefit from it while others not so much. But one thing is clear; it depends on the individual. If you are committed to getting fit, then the tracker is just there to motivate you, optimize your efforts and help you track your progress.
Do you think wearable fitness trackers have any benefits? Leave your comments below.