The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was the place to be if you wanted to see this new technology in action. Budding tech company Valencell was on hand to demonstrate its new high-end earphones, which not only provide the user with music when they are out and about, but also a means of measuring all kinds of physical information about themselves.
The headphones contain sensors that can read biometric information direct from the user. This even includes things such as your pulse rate, which when linked to your smart phone can translate into real-time performance monitoring. Fitness fanatics can then plan training regimes and use any free laptop at home or at work to synchronise their data with an online profile which lets them chart their activity over the course of a year.
The age of the smart phone has made it much easier for companies to develop fitness gadgets which have complex sensor technology while still retaining an affordable price point. This is because the flexibility of the software platforms, such as Android and iOS, combined with the intuitive touchscreen interfaces made available on compatible handsets means that tech firms can create relatively bare-bones products which sync to an existing device. There is no need for a company to create everything from scratch and build their own gadget with a display, processor or operating system as everyone already has such a device in their pocket. It simply remains for the third-party firm to use this to their advantage.
Bluetooth headset manufacturer Jawbone is one of the more established companies currently working on fitness-based devices. By integrating sensors into something that a user will buy anyway, it gives customers the option to harness the fitness features as and when they are required, while using the headset to make normal calls when they are not exercising.
Jawbone did encounter some issues with its Up fitness wristband, which had to be taken off shelves at the end of 2011 in order to fix a persistent problem with the battery that users had reported. However, the company is not disheartened by this setback and believes that smart phones offer great opportunities for innovation when it comes to fitness gadgets, apps and peripherals.
Dexcom is another company working in this industry, although its focus on blood glucose monitoring has applications outside of simple fitness purposes. It is hoping that it will be able to provide diabetics with smart phones instant feedback on their blood sugar levels through an application. This can help them counteract the impact of dangerous dips or peaks throughout the day, allowing them to adjust their intake of insulin appropriately.
With a smart phone, all you need is a single device to do the job of many other gadgets. This means that you do not need to lug around a free laptop, pedometer, MP3 player or anything else because the features of each device are incorporated into your handset.