FitBit One and FitBit Zip: Taking the slog out of logging

Fitbit-walking

Keeping in shape is hard work and technology has always been around to ease the transition from amorphous blob into chiseled Greek statue.

Unfortunately people are lazy and when you’ve already put so much effort into actually heading to the gym/jogging/pumping iron the last thing you want to do is be carefully noting what you’ve done in a little book or logging routines in an app. I’ve tried countless innovations in search of the body beautiful and I’ve given up on almost all of them. The perfect system it seems, should do all the work for me, leaving me with as little to do as possible.

Enter the Fitbit’s wireless activity trackers – the Fitbit Zip and the Fitbit One. I looked at the Fitbit Ultra system about 9 months ago and it’s nice to see a company take a great concept and continually refine it.

Fitbit-Zip

Fitbits are little trackers you clip to a belt, bra or waistband as you go about your day to day. Unlike tracking systems I’ve used, the Fitbits have really nailed the ease of use aspect of activity monitoring. They come with little USB dongles you can plug into the your laptop and they will automatically sync with your PC. More excitingly Fitbits work in the Post-PC era and utilise BlueTooth Smart to sync with your smartphone for real time progress updates. This is a particularly handy feature as the days of plugging things into to sync data are really numbered and these sorts of background automation systems are a nice glimpse of the future (the Witings wireless scales are another gadget that implements this sort of background updating, app-enhanced monitoring really well).

The Fitbit Zip is a small pound coin sized tracker that comes with a silicon clip and is available in magenta, lime, blue, charcoal and white. It’s charged off a small battery that should last for about 6 months. You can cycle through data by tapping the display or check on your app which should have all the same info about steps taken, distance travelled and calories burned instantly uploaded.

FitBit-One

If you want a tiny bit more info in your life there’s the FitBit One which measures steps taken, distance travelled, calories burned and stairs climbed, and also monitors how long and how well you sleep. The Fitbit One has a Silent Wake alarm that gently vibrates when worn on the wrist to wake the person up without waking their sleep partner.

FitBit Zip will cost £49.99 and will be available to purchase from Apple stores and other major retailers and direct from Fitbit from 1 October.

Fitbit One will cost £79.99 and will be available in major retailers such as Amazon, John Lewis, Carphone Warehouse and Firebox and direct from Fitbit from 22 October.

Aria Fitbit- Wifi scales with an app ecosystem

Losing weight is a tough business. Making money off losing weight is rich pickings and the diet industry is ironically a fatted calf. But it’s not all snake oil and there are some great gadgets out there to help you help you in the struggle. One of my favourites in recent years has been the Fitbit Ultra, a really cool dongle that you could clip to your belt while it tracked your your movements and told you how many calories walking up and down the stairs burned. Check out our review from 6-month’s ago.

Fitbit-Aria

Fitbit have branched out into the bathroom with the Firbit Aria, a Wi-Fi smart scale that tracks weight, % body fat and BMI. What makes the Fitbit Aria special is that it automatically uploads information through the Wi-Fi network to your Fitbit profile. Monitoring your progress is important and having a regular chart of your weight that you can pull up on a smartphone app before deciding whether or not to go into KFC (don’t go) is really useful. Amusingly the scale comes in what (to me) looks like a pizza box, so it’s a great way to pull a cruel prank and send a message at the same time.

As with all non-computer based Wifi devices set up is a tad fiddly and it took me a few goes to get everything up and running. Having to register clicks by standing on the scale or flipping it over *almost* drove me crazy, but thankfully just before the crucial *I give up* moment

If you’re already plugged into the Fitbit ecosystem then the Aria Scale is fully compatible with Fitbit’s online and app tools. The scale automatically recognises eight users, although there is a privacy setting that means you can stop your housemates from seeing your epic battle against the lure of Krispy Kremes.

Unlike conventional scales, you can track trends in your weight and set goals. You can even earn badges as you progress to your goal if that’s your thing. Or create a support network for additional motivation with your gym buddies.

> “Fitbit continues to provide users with intelligent and compelling ways to monitor key activity indices and we’re pleased to be able to build upon this offering with the Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale. The Fitbit Aria is fully integrated with iPhone and Android Fitbit Apps, as well as all the online motivational tools, so there is a great platform for users to understand their weight while empowering them to set and achieve their desired goals.”
Gareth Jones, VP and European General Manager for Fitbit.

The Fitbit Aria (£99.99) is available to pre-order now at Amazon and Fitbit.com and is available to purchase both online and in-store at Apple stores and online at Firebox.co.uk.

iBGStar: Blood glucose monitoring on your iPhone

I had no idea 2.9 million people had Diabetes in the UK and on top of that there are a further 850,000 undiagnosed cases. Diabetes can be difficult to monitor and keep under control. So to help, Sanofi  has launched the first blood glucose monitor that connects seamlessly to the iPhone. The potential effects of Diabetes include heart attack, stroke, heart disease and blindness so not one to be taken lightly. The iBGStar could not have come at a better time for the modern iGeneration. Research shows that people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes who regularly self-monitor their blood glucose levels can achieve better glycaemic control. It can be very difficult to maintain and the iBGStar aims to make it easier to self-monitor and gain control.

iBGStar

The iBGStar is the smallest blood glucose monitor on the market and simply plugs in to the bottom of the iPhone. It is designed for ease and simplicity with hypo and hyper alerts and only a small blood sample is needed. It comes with a free Diabetes Manager App and it stores, tracks and analyses information. What I liked best is the ease that you can share the information. You can email your results to your health professional. If you are parent and you want to monitor your child while you are work or if they go on a school trip, they can email you the results. The app is very useful as you can add notes to readings. Perhaps if you ate something you should not have, you can add a note so you know why the reading was high. The app colour codes high and low results so you can see easily how are doing on the graph or on a table.

Taking a reading is also very easy. Even if you are not great with technology, it could not be easier. All you have to do to plug in the iBGStar, open the app, insert test strip, obtain blood sample by lancing and put test strip on blood sample. Six seconds later you have your result. You can also take a reading without the iPhone and when you next plug it in to the iPhone it will update the results.

Looking at the design, it has very sleek look and is very small compared to its competitors. It comes in a case with everything you need inside including lancing devices, test strips, control solution and all the cables you need. So you do not need to worry about losing it, just keep hold of the case.

To go with the surge in demand for smartphones, there has been a rise in iHealth products and apps to go with smartphones that help people as we have become more health conscious. I think the iBGStar is a much-needed welcome addition to the market. iBGStar is available in Boots for £48. Not everyone has an iPhone so there is also the BGStar which is a more traditional blood glucose monitor.

Scosche myTREK Wireless Pulse Monitor review

Serious about staying in shape? Then you’ll need data and lots of it. It’s hard enough to exercise (believe me I struggle with it on a daily basis) but it’s even harder to make each workout really count. It’s deceptively simple to think that breaking a sweat on the treadmill entitles you to a post run donut. It’s even easier to think that your work out was harder than it really was. If only there was some sort of Wireless Pulse Monitor to strap on my arm as I struggled through my fitness regime.

myTREK

Fortunately my very specific prayers have been answered with the Scosche MyTREK Wireless Pulse Monitor, a high-tech way to jazz up your workout and keep you in control your fitness. A tad smaller than one of those new-fangled iPod nanos, the Scosche MyTREK Wireless Pulse Monitor straps to your arm with velco and connects to your iOS device by the magic of Bluetooth. One you sync the two it should prompt you to download the free Scosche myTREK app that will track your workouts and monitor your performance.

The app has gotten pretty dire feedback on iTunes for constantly crashing and having “the wrong calander” but the app I used (running the latest version of iOS) had absolutely no issues.From within the app you can select a type of workout and a playlist and you can control musical playback and volume using the buttons on the Pulse Monitor. Sadly it doesn’t play nicely with other audio apps, so I’d shift a workout playlist out of Spotify and keep a couple of spare podcasts in iTunes rather than Instacast if that’s your thing (it’s my thing).

One you’re strapped in the myTREK will automatically calibrate itself and calculate your pulse then provide a visual representation to mirror your activity. It’s fun leave it on during a Michael Bay action movie to see if you drop down to sedate levels or if you blood actually boils at the thought of what he did to Transformers.

The myTREK also features built in GPS so you can check the distance you’ve run (if you’re outdoors obviously) and see how many calories a 10 minute jaunt around the park really knocks off. Audio prompts provide real-time feedback and you have up to 5 hours of workout time thanks to the lithium-ion battery. And if you don’t want to carry your iPhone on you as you hop from spot to spot it has a working range of up to 33ft – handy if you’re doing circuits.

The Scosche myTREK is available from Apple UK for £129.95.

January’s get fit schedule just got smarter with the Wahoo Fitness Blue Heart Monitor

I don’t know about you but with all this drinking, too many late nights and excessive eating, I felt like bypassing the New Year and beginning the January detoxing early – perhaps it’s just my age! Although if I want to exploit the get fit advantages of the Wahoo Fitness Blue HR Heart Rate Monitor, the world’s first Bluetooth Smart Heart Rate Monitor, I’ll have to wait until mid-January, when it’s released.

BlueHR

The ‘proper’ unveiling of this innovative device will apparently take place at CES 2012; although that hasn’t stopped a whirl of excitement flurrying around the net since Wahoo Fitness exposed its Blue HR press release.

In “harnessing the power of Bluetooth Smart Ready Devices”, the Blue HR will effectively transform your smartphone into an all-in-one training partner, and given that an all-in-one training partner is what our poor neglected bodies are all crying out for in January, Wahoo Fitness’s timing of the Blue HR release is impeccable.

In using the latest in Bluetooth Technology, the Blue HR is able to communicate directly with Bluetooth Smart Ready Devices, including the iPhone 4S. Being in full support of various Wahoo Fitness’ app partners, including several of the most popular fitness apps, such as Runmeter, MotionX, 321 Run, RunKeeper and MapMyFitness, users will have access to heart rate data, music playlists, their phone, GPS maps, etc., all in one place.

In generating heart rate data in real time, the Blue HR provides highly accurate readings of the number of calories you have burned during a workout. Blue HR users also have the option of purchasing a Wahoo Armband, which provides protection for your iPhone 4S with full touchscreen access, and, of course, as the device relays heart information via Bluetooth Smart Technology wirelessly; no key or additional hardware is needed.

According to Wahoo Fitness, virtually all new smartphones in 2012 will include the Bluetooth V4.0 technology that is all Bluetooth Smart Ready devices and that the Blue HR marks the first release of a Bluetooth Smart app enabled accessory for the iPhone 4S.

FitBit Ultra review: A good looking gadget to help you look good

‘Tis the season to regret being quite so jolly last week. But not regret enough to stop one from overindulging quite heavily again on New Years Eve. Then the real regret kicks in. Tralalala la la la lah.

Almost as predictable as the wave of articles about unwanted gifts, bumper post-Xmas sales and people stabbing each other over cut price trainers is the wave of articles about “getting fit in the New Year”. And we at Latest Gadgets are sticklers for tradition.

FitBit-Ultra-Woman

Not for the first time in my career a tech company emailed me and asked if I’d like to try a weight loss gadget. I try not to get insulted. The company – FitBit and the gadget is the sleek looking FitBit Ultra weight loss tracker, the wellness widget that’s been taking America by storm.

The FitBit Ultra is a tiny USB key shaped dongle that you can clip to a belt or necklace. The design of the dongle is pretty sleek in a really nice matt black and a belt clip design. There is a single button that cycles through the hidden display – revealing the time, how many steps you’ve taken, how many stairs you’ve climbed and how many calories you’ve burned. You can also hold the button to log activies such as sleeping or skiing.

The Fitbit Ultra tracks steps, distance, sleep patterns and even stairs climbed via a state-of the-art altimeter, and includes an on-device display for real-time feedback. Fitbit Ultra’s accelerometer and state-of-the-art altimeter technology work together to track movement from climbing the stairs, so there is no confusion with taking a lift or escalator. Online, Fitbit.com compares daily climb activities to well-known landmarks around the world such as The Eiffel Tower and Machu Picchu and even Big Ben’s 389 steps.

Because I’m lazy, one of my favourite FitBit features is the USB hub that attaches to a PC. It automatically uploads all your data to Fitbit.com whenever your dongle is within wireless range, making it easier to keep track or your activities.

Have friends? Fitbit.com has a range of social features to help users stay motivated including messaging and achievement badges for reaching landmarks for stair climbing, steps walked and distance travelled. And it is fully integrated with all social media platforms if you feel the need to overshare. A weight management support tool, Food Goal, is also included which dynamically changes based on activities you complete during the day and calories consumed.

Fitbit’s online motivational support is available on your PC or Mobile, or via Fitbit’s iPhone app (well mobile website). It also includes a stopwatch – so that users can challenge themselves to beat a previous time and a clock.

Fitbit Ultra is available in blue or plum and is £79.99 SRP.

For more info head to Fitbit.com

Jawbone Up Fitness Tracker: Serious about losing weight

If you are serious about losing weight and toning up in time for Christmas then you may need to resort to some extreme and aggressive methods and they don’t come much more extreme and aggressive than the Jawbone Up Fitness Tracker – Even its name evokes images of army sergeants standing over you while you are perform a set of 50 press ups!

Jawbone-Up

Launched on November 6, this fitness and lifestyle tracker works in conjunction with the Up app, enabling users to track their progress.  Worn on a dieter’s wrist, the Jawbone Up literally tracks your every move, including steps taken, distance travelled, pace of distance travelled, intensity of distance travelled and number of calories burned, and just when you thought it was safe to put your feet up and relax with a cup of tea for 20 minutes, the Jawbone Up screams at you to stop being sedentary and go for a walk or, worse still, a run – I told you it was aggressive!

Although prompting users when they are having an albeit fleetingly ‘still’ moment is not the Jawbone Up’s only pressure tactic, as this highly persuasive bracelet attempts to persuade its fitness apprentices to take photos of the food they are thinking about eating during the day. The ruthless device then bombards its quaking users with information about the calorie content of their potential meals, bullying them into opting for a salad instead of a MacDonald’s – Well you did say in time for Christmas.

Even while asleep one cannot escape from the Jawbone Up watching their every move, as this inventive little bracelet, which looks, by the way, about as technical as a cuddly teddy bear, monitors sleep patterns, including hours slept, sleep phases, when is the best time to go to bed and overall sleep quality – They talk about a nanny state, how about nanny jewellery!

The Jawbone Up Fitness Tracker will set you back $100, but could be worth it to fit into that size 10 little black number for the Christmas office party!

iBike Coach. More power to your pedals.

There’s one thing you can honestly say about pedal bikers, they’re a hardy lot. What with having to put up with dodging unobservant car drivers, dealing with bad weather, punctures, the odd tumble and a sore rear not to mention the expense of buying a bike in the first place. You have to ask yourself, is it all really worth it? Clearly it is, if you believe the ever increasing bike population stats, so its all down to fitness I suppose. There seemed precious little technology could do for them apart from making bikes lighter. That was until Velacomp developed the iBike Dash last year, a dedicated bike computer that logged your distance, time, heart rate and temperature and gave you GPS routings and everything.

iBike

Following on from this they’ve released the iBike Coach a software app upgrade for the iPhone 4 and 3 which works in conjunction with the IBike Dash offering enhanced tutorials, easier set up, more colourful screens and music control.

The iBike app update now includes an ‘always on’ feature which allows you to continue to monitor your data even when the IBike app is not running via the iBike Dash electronics. The two applications then simply synchronise when the Bike app powers up and your data gap harmony is restored.

John Hamann, CEO of Velocomp, says, “Cyclists naturally expect that their cycling computer information will always be correct and accurate. And iPhone and iPod touch users naturally expect to have full access to all of their apps, whenever they want. With our new ‘Always On’ technology, both of these critical expectations are met”.

iBike Coach includes a water and shock resistant case that works with any iPhone and a universal mount that securely attaches the case to any bike. It also includes 6 months free membership to www.strava.com and online social fitness site that lets cyclists all over the world log, share, compare and compete with each other’s personal
fitness data.

iBike Coach $69.95