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

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
News
news
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
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

    Graduate BI Consultant (Business Intelligence) - London

    £24000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Graduate BI Consultant (B...

    Service Delivery Manager (Product Manager, Test and Deployment)

    £40000 - £55000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Service Delivery Manager (Product Ma...

    Technical Product Marketing Specialist - London - £70,000

    £50000 - £70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Cloud Product and Solutions Marketin...

    Trainee Helpdesk Analyst / 1st Line Application Support Analyst

    £18000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam