Sure, you’ve already got an activity monitor that counts your steps, plots your distance covered, and calculates the calories you’ve burned—but how much is it tracking stuffed away in your sock drawer? The truth is that one-third of personal health gadgets get ditched within a few months of being purchased. Why? A lot of so-called wearable tech is, well, kind of dumb—and doesn't make good on the grandiose promises many consumers have in mind (and some manufacturers make).
Now many electronics manufacturers are trying to adapt. "This shift from simple pedometers and digital scales to connected devices that address health and wellness is what makes the digital health sector such an important area to watch going forward,” writes Mark Chisholm of the Consumer Electronics Association in a report on 2015 tech trends to watch. Launching at CES, these five new wearables are ready to kick off the new year—and the new you—by doing more to improve your health.
Ah, 2008. Those were the good ol’ days when people strapped garage door opener-sized gadgets to their triceps which could count calories burned and…that’s about it. Seven years later, Gymwatch not only feels your burn, but makes it better by detecting incorrectly performed exercises, offering tips on improvement for up to 900 distinct workouts. Able to tell the difference between a solid rep and a half-hearted effort, this $199 motion-tracker uses your movement data (along with some heady math) to help you hit personalized fitness goals. It also pairs with a smartphone app that provides audio feedback, like a personal trainer only not as physically intimidating.
More than just an activity tracker, this wrist-worn device automatically measures caloric intake, without having to painstakingly peck your breakfast into an app. The $299 band uses an advanced sensor to measure the amount of glucose in your cells through your skin, taking a true count of your calories. Pairing that ability with an always-on heart rate monitor and an accelerometer, GoBe not only keeps track of calories consumed and burned, but also stress and hydration levels, as well as your sleep. But around the halls of CES, skeptics have questioned the science behind the novel device—so study up before you buy.
Speaking of weird science, Melomind, a wearable that claims to rid the wearer of stress, is turning lots of heads at the show. The headset, which looks like the back half of a white, plastic Magneto helmet, connects via Bluetooth to a smartphone app which claims to put your mind at ease in just 15 minutes. Once donned, the $299 system provides guided relaxation and creates music using your brain activity. Developed in collaboration with the Brain & Spine Institute of Paris, this could be one of the biggest breakthroughs in stress tech ever, or a bunch of hooey. Time will tell.
A wearable you’d hope to never use (but if you have a baby, you’ll probably want to), this 24-hour temperature monitor sticks to little ones’ torsos, just behind the armpit. Using Bluetooth, it connects to a smartphone app that continually records and logs temperatures. An innovation that’s clearly an improvement to anyone who has used thermometers that you have to stuff in places (I was talking armpits, what were you thinking?) or even the newer temporal scan devices that babies love to squirm under, this intelligent device can also send your phone alerts when fever spikes, and give you advice on when to medicate or feed your ill child—as well as when it’s time to replace the patch. But that last capability puts the cart before the horse. Currently undergoing FDA review, TempTraq is not available for sale, yet.
Withings Activite Pop
Bringing Swatch-like style to the tech-blech world of motion trackers, this $150 smart watch is ready to tell time first and track activity in the process. Packing an eight month battery and Bluetooth connectivity, the watch has an analog dial that shows how active you are at a glance, while its accompanying app takes a deeper dive into your fitness stats. World travelers will like how the watch automatically adjusts to the time zone they're in (when their plane lands and they bring their smartphone back online). And the Activite Pop’s ability to count strokes while doing laps will make it a big splash with swimmers — when the watch becomes available for sale.