Monday, April 6, 2015

Body monitors will replace fitness bands


The GoBe "body manager." 
The computer in my car tracks and monitors the vehicle's health. It tells me when to change the oil and check the brakes. It knows if the engine is overheating, it can detect an electrical problem and alert me if the battery isn't changing properly.
So, how about a computer that does the same thing for my body? We don’t have one yet, but at the rate technology is advancing, full-body health monitors aren’t far off.
Like millions of other people, I already wear a wristband that counts my steps and knows how much I exercise every day. It connects to a mobile app that cheers when I reach my daily goal and prods me when I fall short.
But that's just the beginning. Newer versions of activity bands like the Fitbit Charge, Garmin VivoFit and Withings Pulse O2 now monitor the user's heart rate while they count their daily steps.
Other new wearable devices can track and monitor a range of health and fitness metrics and warn us of potential problems. 
These are some of the devices that could become part of our daily wardrobe:
The Qardiocore, scheduled to be available this spring, is a chest band that continuously monitors the heart's electrical activity (EKG) and transmits the data wirelessly to an iPhone. It also tracks body temperature and heart rate.
For people who need to monitor their glucose levels, Dexcom has developed a patch that inserts a sensor under the skin. The patch transmits readings to a handheld device every five minutes and can be worn for seven days at a time.
Most of the new smart watches include health monitors in their list of features and functions. Both Motorola’s Moto 360 and Samsung’s Gear watch include heart rate monitors. Apple Watch will do the same when it arrives this spring.  
At this year's CES technology show, the Taiwanese company Ming Young Biomedical showed shirts and sport bras that could measure and transmit a person's breathing rate, heart rate and EKG rate.
The most ambitious new body monitor is the Healbe GoBe, a wristband that aims to be a complete "body manager." In addition to monitoring physical activity, the device calculates calorie intake and calories burned, heart rate, blood pressure and hydration. It will also report a user’s high stress levels, presumably the result of worrying about all those other health measurements.


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Follow me on Twitter @ricmanning and read my technology columns at My Well Being.


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