Rhodri Marsden: Why wearable tech might just get us moving again

 

Many of us cannot be trusted to look after our own bodies without being reminded that we're losing our shape or that we have a death-like pallor.

Whether that reminder comes from a weekly peek at the bathroom scales, an indiscreet partner prodding us playfully in the guts or just feeling downright dreadful, we still need that prompt – otherwise we'd languish in a cream cake-lined den of inactivity. It's the great irony of health and fitness; none of us like being lardy and lethargic, but for some reason we require additional motivation to do something about it. Gadgets will soon be taking on more responsibility for giving us that nudge.

"Health and fitness" are currently written in large capital letters on the whiteboards of many big technology companies, circled three times and with arrows pointing outwards to things like "wearable tech", "apps", "digital health" and "body sensors". This week has seen the launch of Microsoft's Bing Health & Fitness app ("the one-stop shop for a healthier you"); rumoured screengrabs of Apple's iOS 8 have been circulating online which feature Healthbook, an app that gives you a visual snapshot of your current state of health; references to a "Fitness API" have been spotted in recent versions of the Android OS, while Basis, manufacturer of health tracking technology, is being eyed up for purchase by a number of companies.

Microsoft's new app lets users set calorie goals, record what they eat and create exercise regimes.

The supposition, perhaps, is that if maintaining our fitness is made easier it'll no longer be the preserve of fitness freaks. We'll all want a piece of it.

The "game-ification" of fitness is already underway, of course. Nike's Fuelband, Fitbit's Flex and Jawbone's Up all wrap around your wrist, working in tandem with smartphone apps to track sleep and movement (with varying levels of accuracy) and rewarding you with neatly-presented data. But some details, such as the food you consume, need to be fed in manually and that can be something of a faff. The future of fitness data-gathering is embedded within advanced sensors, sensors which can automatically tell when we're dehydrated, when our glucose levels are low, when we're running a temperature and much else besides.

A current Kickstarter project called The Dash, funded nearly 10 times over, consists of a pair of wireless earbuds that can sense heart rate, oxygen saturation and calorie burning – but that will soon be eclipsed by stuff that's far more sci-fi. The San Francisco Chronicle reported this week on rumours that Apple are working on measures to prevent heart attacks by studying the sound of blood flowing through our arteries, while a US company, MC10, is producing "epidermal electronics" such as BioStamp (a tattoo-like pattern with built-in sensors) and an "interventional catheter" (which literally gets under your skin).

The Dash 'smart' earphones track your exercise and come with built-in storage for playing music on your run.

Compared to a wrist strap or a watch this technology might currently seem creepy and invasive, but it stands a far better chance of telling us how we are.

Of course, whatever data this stuff produces, it requires us to be interested in it. (My phone has an app that shows stock prices, but I've never actually looked at it.) But however sloth-like we may be, we all care about our health; the reason we feign indifference is because we're worried what the results might reveal.

If the results are constantly updated and always to hand, however, perhaps that fear will disappear and the prospect of remedying matters will seem far less onerous.

twitter.com/rhodri

Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: Support and Development Engineer

    £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The leading provider of Employee Managem...

    Recruitment Genius: Creative Designer

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Kent based design consulta...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Gazetteer Consultant

    £25000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you looking to work for an ...

    Recruitment Genius: Regional Support Manager

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This role's responsibility also include operat...

    Day In a Page

    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
    10 best statement lightbulbs

    10 best statement lightbulbs

    Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
    Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
    Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

    Dustin Brown

    Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
    Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test