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

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?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer / Developer

    £13000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They focus on four deeply overl...

    Ashdown Group: IT Support - Office 365, Windows, Mac - Guildford

    £22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A truly exciting opportunity has ari...

    Recruitment Genius: Network Engineer

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Setup, configure, troubleshoot,...

    Ashdown Group: Reporting & Analytics Supervisor - Buckinghamshire - £36,000

    £34000 - £36000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Analytics & Reporting Tea...

    Day In a Page

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
    Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
    Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

    Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

    Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
    Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

    Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

    The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
    Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

    Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

    His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

    Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future