What is wearable technology?

Wearable technology is just that.  Something you wear somewhere on your body.  It is not the latest Beats by Dre headphones or your basic digital watch though.  Wearable technology is a gadget that connects to you through smart sensors and are designed to help you achieve goals such as counting your steps, calories burned, activity level and weight loss.  Most connect to your smartphone wirelessly via Bluetooth or can sync with a website when plugged into a USB port.

How do you wear it?

Most wearables are worn on your wrist, however there are products available that can be clipped to your body, worn around the neck, in your shoe, clothing and believe it or not, as jewellery, but not all wearables are created as equals and not all wearables are designed to track your activity.

What to Consider When Purchasing

When looking into what device you want, you should consider a few things.  What exactly are you looking to get out of this device and what is your price point? Do you want something that resembles a watch or something smaller and discreet that you can clip on a shoe or your waist?  Do you want something that is only for step counting or includes cycling and swimming as well, or do you want something that will notify you like a pager did?

Once you have the above questions sorted out, you next need to determine what company makes the best device for you.  You should look for customer reviews, the battery life of the device, colour options and compare the features that matter to you between the brands.

I have reviewed and researched many different gadgets, devices and clothing while writing this article and decided to focus on the watch.  Below you will find my summary and hopefully find it useful in you in your decision making process.

Wearable Technology for the Swimmer

If you are a swimmer, then the Swimmo is for you.  This stylish smartwatch comes in 3 colours.  Black, black and white and white with an adjustable wrist band from 14.5cm to 20cm.  The Swimmo takes approximately 2 hours to charge from empty to full and the battery life is listed at approximately 1 week. You can set goals for each swim workout whether its distance, calories burned or duration of swim and with the swimming log with workout analysis on the mobile app you see past results and how your results have changed overtime.

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  • Laps (auto count)
  • Distance in yards or meters
  • Swimming pace/speed
  • Duration & Lap Times
  • Your Heart Rate

Upcoming features:

  • Open water swim mode – measures performance while swimming in a lake, river or sea
  • Swimming Stroke Analysis – detects swimming style, counts strokes, their length and SWOLF (adding your strokes per length and time per length) for efficiency score
  • Pro Interval Training – set up with your interval training plan and swim more effectively.
  • Free mobile app for Android and iOS to be released in the next couple months that has a function such as “leader board” where you can add your friends or person nearby to you and compete with or just follow their results and history

Swimmo has a patent pending technology called Rotate & Tap which allowed them to do away with all the buttons making it truly water-proof and usable in the water.  The Rotate & Tap allows you to control the functions of the smart watch by a flick of your wrist and a tap on the screen.  Much faster and easier than pressing multiple buttons and so much more convenient while in the water.  Along with its own mobile device for iOS and Android, it integrates with many existing apps such as MapMyFitness, swim.com, Strava, RunKeeper and more.

The heart rate monitor alone compared to a chest strap commonly used for swimmers is an instant benefit to this smartwatch.  It has a built in Intensity Coach that will let you know via vibrations if you are swimming at the right intensity and a Pacekeeper that tells you if you are going too fast or too slow.

The Swimmo Smart Swim Watch began through Kickstarter and was 472% funded.  The demand for a “swim only” watch became evident through this campaign and I am excited to see where they go next.

Wearable Technology for the Triathlete

So you bike, swim and run.  Congratulations!  I tried to complete a half triathlon as a teenager and thought I was going to die by the time I made it to the running portion.  It was on a whim and I had not trained and that was the biggest mistake ever.  Needless to say, I quit about 5km into the running.  The pain you experience from pushing an untrained body through those many grueling kilometers is enough to turn you away from ever competing again, but if you are braver than me, this is the device you should get.

GarminThe Garmin Forerunner 910XT – Triathlon Bundle was designed with the triathlete in mind.  This smart watch acts as your training partner.  Some of the features include:

  • Heart rate monitoring for running and cycling
  • GPS enabled allows you to track path travelled
  • Designed for open water and pool swimming
  • Computes SWOLF score
  • Apps for iOS and Google devices
  • Mac and Windows compatible
  • Free triathlon training programs
  • Seamless transition between sports by the press of a button
  • Allows you to customize multiple training pages for each sport
  • Review activity detail, create training plans and connect with others via the Garmin Connect community

If you are a triathlete looking for a better way to track your progress or are pondering how to train for such an event, the Garmin Forerunner 910XT is definitely the device you should look further into.

 

Wearable Technology for the Walker/Runner

Whether you are a walker, jogger or runner, the Fitbit is a must.  I personally own the Fitbit Charge HR and would be lost without it now.  I purchased mine as I had just registered for the 25km Shoppers Drug Mart OneWalk to Conquer Cancer and I needed something that would encourage me to walk more and to hold me accountable to meeting my daily goals.  I looked at a few different devices before I purchased and decided on the Fitbit based on on-line reviews, friends who had one and the size.  I have a small wrist and I don’t like big watches as they look huge and awkward on me.  I also chose the FitBit Charge HR as it has one of the most accurate heart rate monitoring in a watch and I like that you can track any activity except swimming on this device.  It can tell you how many calories you burned lifting weights, bicycling or doing yoga.

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The Fitbit Charge HR offers you the following features:

  • PurePulse Continuous Heart Rate Monitoring with an optical heart rate monitor
  • All day tracking of workouts, heart rate, distance, calories burned, floor climbed, active minutes and steps
  • Caller ID and a watch with OLED display
  • Exercise tracking, Altimeter, 3-axis accelerometer
  • Sleep monitoring and silent alarms through the vibration motor
  • Battery life of approximately 5 days with one to two hours charging time
  • Wireless syncing to smartphones and computers
  • Smart phone app where you see your daily stats and can challenge other Fitbit wearers to competitions
  • Charge HR is sweat, rain and splash proof so you can still dance in the rain and not have to worry about your watch
  • It is available in 3 sizes

I purchased my Fitbit March 1st and in the past 7 months, I have lost 10 lbs by making sure I walk 10,000 steps at least 5 days a week.  The online dashboard is where you can see your year to date progress, badges you have earned for reaching certain milestones and an alternate way to track your daily progress if your phone is not available.  I am on the cusp of 2 million steps!  Their blog is full of helpful activity tips, recipes and links to additional training activities and your app can integrate with other apps such as MyFitnessPal, Strava, Weight Watchers, MapMyRun and many others.  You can even join walking groups in your community through the website.

Fitbit has many different models with varied features and price points making them the most affordable and diverse product to accommodate your needs and price range.  I highly recommend them.

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Wearable Technology for Animals?

Yes, you read right.  There is wearable technology almost available for your dog now.  The Buddy by Squeaker started as an Australian KickStarter campaign and moved platforms to Indiegogo where they are now fully funded. The Buddy is an LED dog collar equipped with GPS and Bluetooth technology that will help you keep your dog safe.

The Buddy has an astounding number of software features for your pooch:

  • Activity Monitoring
  • Secure Geofencing
  • Food scanner
  • Health Statistics
  • Home Automation
  • Calendar Alerts
  • Social Alerts
  • Email alerts and reminders
  • App and Web service

The collar itself has RGB LED lighting, GPS tracking, Bluetooth, OLED display, a light and temperature sensor, 7-14 day battery life with charging time of approximately 1 hour, a Wi-Fi charging dock and is tough and durable.  The Buddy is also 100% waterproof, has a 3 axis accelerometer and comes in 3 sizes.

Think of it as a Fitbit for your dog.  It can track steps, calories burned and consumed.  It also has Doggy social networking features and can notify you when other Buddy users are in your area as well as letting you share comments and photos.

The Buddy even works with smart-home devices such as the Nest Thermostat and if your dog’s temperature is too hot or cold, the Buddy can adjust the temperature in your home!  There are already plans to add training software to the mobile app, a communications pack so you can talk to your dog, a heart rate monitor and even kinetic charging one day.

This is a gadget that I would not hesitate to purchase if I owned a dog.

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