While activity trackers are great to make sure you removing around enough, they don’t do a very good job when it comes to sports. Over the past few years we have seen a sharp jump in devices specifically made for athletic endeavors. These devices are incredible because of the depth of metrics they provide. Users are able to gain an understanding of what they are doing right and what could be improved. But most of these devices are less a wearable and more of an accessory – the Zepp sensor attaches to your baseball bat, the Qlipp sensor attaches to your tennis racket, the Arccos system attaches to your golf clubs, and the Adidas Micoach Smart Ball is a sensor laden soccer ball. This year though, we finally started seeing wearable devices cover new ground in fitness and sports. Below we take a look at a few of our favorite fitness wearables from the past year.
Looks wise, you can’t help but be reminded of Misfit’s line of trackers when you see the MOOV NOW, except MOOV offers significantly more insight about your exercise. The best way to describe the fitness wearable is that it is like the Swiss Army Knife of fitness tech. While most fitness devices target one sport, the MOOV NOW helps provide you with quantifiable data to track and improve your running, swimming, cycling, cardio boxing, and workouts. Depending on the sport, you attach the wearable to either your wrist or ankle. It is able to provide detailed stride and form information for running (including impact analysis), cadence and power data for cycling, distance per stroke and turn times for swimming, and velocity and technique analysis for boxing. While you are exercising and the MOOV is collecting data, you can use headphones to listen to real-time audio coaching. For some sports, such as boxing and (soon) swimming, you can even add a second MOOV (for your other arm) for more accurate readings. On iOS, the MOOV NOW also supports Bluetooth chest-strap heart rate monitors. If you are tired of hitting the asphalt, you can grab the weights and select from one of a over a dozen guided workouts. The sensor will track your reps, pace, and range of motion while providing you with both audio and visual coaching, including instructional videos. The MOOV NOW is able to achieve all of this while maintaining a reported 6 months battery life. Oh, and did we mention the fitness wearable also behaves as an activity / sleep tracker when you aren’t working up a sweat?
Lumo made a name for themselves with a crowdfunded posture sensor. The discreet device would monitor how you were holding yourself and would alert you when your posture was less than ideal. The company is taking this technology and applying it to sports with the Lumo Run. The Lumo Run is a small chip that fits into a hidden rear-hip pocket on a pair running shorts. This placement allows the device to monitor your cadence, ground contact time, bounce, braking, stride length, and, even, pelvic rotation. Unfortunately you need to use Lumo’s shorts to ensure that the chip is precisely placed but thankfully the shorts are provided with the chip. What we love about the Lumo Run is that there are no irritating bracelets or anklets you have to wear that might alter your running pattern. Devices like this, which can help improve your running form, are incredible! While you should still utilize a running coach, a fitness wearable such as the Lumo Run can help you on those runs when your coach isn’t around and you are struggling to figure out why something doesn’t feel right. In a controlled setting, concepts such as bounce and cadence make a lot of sense, but 6 miles into a run it becomes very difficult to connect the dots.
The Lumo Run is currently available for preorder from Lumo’s website. For the holidays they are offering $50 off, which means the starter pack that includes the chip & shorts / capris sells for $99. The company expects to ship Lumo Run at the end of March – just in time for the warm weather!
Garmin Forerunner 225
The Garmin Forerunner running watches have long been the Rolls Royce of running watches. The company has managed to maintain their positioning over the years by adding color touch screens, integrated GPS, and, now, an integrated heart rate sensor. Up until this year, Garmin has relied on a chest strap based heart rate sensor. The technology has been around for a while, is fairly universal (built into most gym equipment even), and is considered extremely accurate. The problem though, chest straps are really uncomfortable. While optical monitors are practically invisible, the technology is notorious for being less than precise. Using a sensor originally designed by Mio, Garmin claims the optical heart rate sensor in the Forerunner 225 is the most accurate in existence. This means you are able to ditch the chest strap but keep features such as a live view of heart rate zones, highly customizable run workouts (including intervals), and a 10 hour workout (4 week ‘time-only’) battery life!