Health Tech Update

Health. Technology. Innovation.

Shine: New smart pedometer from company founded by former Apple CEO

Shine Wireless Smart Pedometer

Shine Wireless Smart Pedometer

The world of wearable fitness devices is heating up.  The latest entrant into this popular market is called the Shine.  It’s from a company called Misfit Wearables, which was co-founded by John Sculley, the former Apple CEO.

The small Shine pedometer (it’s about the size of a quarter) has several attachment devices, including a wrist band and a pocket or shirt clip.

The Shine has a novel synching method where you place it on your phone and it transfers its data…no cables necessary.  Here’s a video showing how the Shine works.

We’ll test out the Shine and see how it stacks up to the other industry standards like the Fitbit and Nike Fuel Band.

Fitbit announces two new pedometers: The Fitbit One and the Fitbit Zip

Fitbit today announced two new smart pedometers: the Zip and the One.  These two new personal activity trackers follow in the footsteps of the highly rated Fitbit Ultra pedometer.  Here’s a quick summary of the features of each device:

Fitbit Zip Pedometer

Fitbit Zip Wireless Pedometer

Fitbit Zip Wireless Pedometer

The Fitbit Zip Activity Tracker is a new low-cost pedometer from Fitbit.  To achieve a lower price, they have removed a few features.  But they’ve also added a great new feature: a larger battery that lasts 4 to 6 months.  This means no charging every two weeks (as you need to do with the Fitbit Ultra).

Here are the key features of the Fitbit Zip:

  • Lower cost ($59.95 from Fitbit.com)
  • Waterproof design
  • Bright color options (including lime and magenta)
  • New touch screen display:
    • Steps
    • Distance
    • Calories burned
    • Fitbit Smiley (highlights your recent activity level)
    • Clock
  • Wireless data sync to via your PC
  • Wireless data sync to your smart phone
  • Long lasting battery life (4 to 6 months)
  • The sleep tracker found in the Fitbit Ultra has been removed
  • The stair counter feature has also been removed

Overall the Fitbit Zip is a lower cost option than the original Fitbit.  It drops a couple of features (sleep and stair tracking) but gains a long lasting battery and some new phone sync options.  This combination of features and price should help the Zip gain an even wider audience of people who want to track the steps and lose weight.

Fitbit One Pedometer

Fitbit One

Fitbit One

The Fitbit One is a lot like the current Fitbit Ultra, with a few key differences:

  • Silent alarm feature to wake you up (without waking up your spouse)
  • Wireless sync to your smart phone (via Bluetooth 4.0)
  • Color options are different with Black or Maroon in place of the original Blue or Magenta.
  • $99.95 from Fitbit.com

The Fitbit One is an evolutionary step beyond the current Fitbit Ultra.  Take a look here for our long term review of the Fitbit Ultra to see how all of the core features stack up.

We will be doing a full shakedown on these new pedometers soon.

Long term review of the Withings Internet-connected smart scale

After using the Withings Internet connect scale for the past two years, I’ve found it to be a useful companion in my daily battle to maintain my weight.  There’s something about hopping on the scale and having it measure my weight and body fat %, and then calculate my BMI…all while I stand there looking down at my toes!

Automatically updated weight loss graph from Withings Scale

Automatically updated weight loss graph from Withings Scale

And the fact that it “automagically” uploads this to my online weight chart makes it even better.  Seeing where you’ve been seems to give me an extra boost to try to maintain my current weight.  Unlike the “out of sight, out of mind” way many of us treat our weight, I like seeing it laid out in a colorful graph.  If I’m starting to trend back up in weight, it makes me get a little more vigilant in controlling my portions at meal time.  It also gives me a bit more drive to stick to my morning run, even when I’m not in the mood.

You can read the full Withings wifi scale review here.

LifeSpan treadmill desk is a budget-friendly option

LifeSpan Treadmill Desk

LifeSpan Treadmill Desk

The LifeSpan treadmill desk seems to have found a nice niche in the increasingly popular world of treadmill desks.  Steelcase is the Cadillac of the industry with their Walkstation treadmill desk.  Unfortunately it comes with a Cadillac price as well ($4,399).  At the other end of the market is the TrekDesk, which is only $589, but it doesn’t come with a treadmill (it’s designed to straddle most treadmills).  The thinking is that you can buy your own inexpensive treadmill and save money.

Easy access treadmill controls

Easy access treadmill controls

Now there’s an option for someone who wants the convenience of an integrated treadmill desk, without paying almost $5,000 to Steelcase.  The LifeSpan treadmill desk retails for $1,999, but you can find it on Amazon for $1,299.  This treadmill desk has a nice control panel for adjusting the treadmill while at your desk (which is nice; it can be tough to reach the control on a standard treadmill when you have a laptop in front of you.)  It also has specifically designed trays for holding your computer cables.

If you haven’t tried a treadmill desk, you’re in for a pleasant surprise.  If you keep the speed slow (about 1 MPH) you can easily work on your computer, read, use the phone and do just about any normal office activity.  And at that speed, you don’t sweat and you don’t need any special shoes or gear.  It’s like getting free exercise while you work.  For me, it feels like I’m more focused and can concentrate better when using one.  And since you burn 100 calories per hour walking at this pace, it will help your waistline too!

Striiv Fitness Pedometer Review

Striiv smart pedometer

Striiv smart pedometer on attached to keychain

I’ve been testing a Striiv fitness pedometer for the past couple of months.  As mentioned in my Striiv First Look review from back in November, the Striiv is one of the new crop of fitness gadgets that try to make it more fun to add more activity into your daily routine.

Why the Striiv is better than using an app on your iPhone to track your exercise

Track your steps over time with Striiv

Track your steps over time with Striiv

Many have asked why I don’t just track my exercise using one of the free (or cheap) activity trackers available for smart phones like the iPhone or any of the Android phones.  The difference is ha avior change smart pedometer like the Striiv is on all the time, unlike an app on your iPhone that is only running for short periods of time (most pedometer or GPS apps running on a phone will wear your battery down too rapidly to use them all day).  This is a big difference.  It lets you track all the little things you do throughout the day, so you can try to get to a typical goal of 10,000 steps in a day.  And once you see your daily step count (and if you’re like most people, you’ll find it’s lower than you think), you’re more likely to walk a bit more.  I find myself looking down at my Striiv when I’m on the go and will often take the longer route to squeeze in some “free exercise.”  That’s healthy behavior change in action!

Striiv Pros (What I like about the Stiiv)

Games built into the Striiv make walking more fun

Games built into the Striiv make walking more fun

 

  • Bright, color screen
  • Large fonts for displaying step count (some pedometers have small displays that are hard to read on the go)
  • Touch screen
  • Accurately counts walking, running, and stair climbing (I compared it against two other accelerometer-based pedometers while walking and running and the step counts were within 1% of each other)
  • Audio and visual feedback throughout the day
  • “Games” make it fun to challenge yourself
  • Earn donations to charities by walking more
  • Fun, visual trophies earned for each milestone (e.g. “You have climbed 500 flights of stairs, which is the height that a typical helicopter flies!”)
  • Clever “keychain” option for carrying it around without thinking about it
  • Belt clip
  • View step history right on the device, eliminating the need to sync with a computer
  • Accurate step counter (compared to the FitBit, a competing “smart pedometer”)
  • Simple to set up

Striiv Cons (What I don’t like about the Striiv)

  • Design is a bit bigger than the FitBit
  • If placed in your pocket, it’s a bit bulky; the belt clip is a better option
  • No wireless data upload (you have to plug into your computer with a cable)
  • No community feedback or challenges from other users
  • Color screen means shorter battery life than the FitBit (I charge my Striiv every few days; I charge my FitBit Ultra every 2 weeks)
  • Touchscreen requires a firm touch and isn’t as responsive as you’re used to if you own an iPhone (but the Striiv also doesn’t cost hundreds of dollars!)
  • No sleep tracking feature (This isn’t a big deal, but some FitBit users really like the sleep tracking feature.)

Conclusion

I would recommend the Striiv for the following types of people:

  • People who are new to exercise and trying to get motivated to start moving more
  • People who always have their keys with them
  • Kids (the color screen and games emphasize entertainment)

If you are a more advanced fitness enthusiast, I would recommend a smaller, and more technical device like the FitBit Ultra, or perhaps the soon-to-be-re-released UP Band from Jawbone.

The Striiv is $99 at Amazon.

Here’s an overview video from Striiv that shows the device in action.

FIRST LOOK: Striiv smart pedometer has color display, fitness games

Striiv smart pedometer on key chain

Striiv smart pedometer on key chain

There is a new contender in the increasingly crowded “smart pedometer” field.  This one is called Striiv.  Unlike the clip-on FitBit Ultra or the Jawbone UP Band for your wrist, the Striiv looks more a key chain.

 

Striiv realtime charts

Striiv realtime charts

A key differentiator (no pun intended) is the big color display.  The FitBit Ultra has a nice display, but it’s one color.  And the UP Band has no display.  Why is the display important?  Since the point of a smart pedometer like this is to get you to change your behavior (such as walking more) the display is key because it gives you instant feedback.  Which makes you look at it more often.  Which might lead to more activity.

 

On the downside, the key chain form factor might be less convenient than the click-and-go FitBit Ultra or the Jawbone UP Band (which can be worn like a watch that you never take off).  Look for a full review and head-to-head comparison soon.