App-Driven Fitness Monitors Diversifying

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NEW YORK — The fitness-monitor market geared toward smartphone users continues to expand, adding new functionality and compatibilities, as well as incorporating new technologies, to a bustling market.

Hothead Technologies will begin shipping in Q2 what it is calling “the first fitness monitor on the market to track body temperature, movement and heart rate without using a chest strap.”

Spree, a lightweight headband-style monitor, was announced at International CES in January and displayed at last month’s Mobile World Congress (MWC). It measures body temperature, distance traveled, speed, time, heart rate and calories burned, and relays the data, as well as graphs of the data points, in real time via Bluetooth to a smartphone app.

Spree also stores the data for later download to a PC, for those without smartphones.

“We use the phrase ‘on your mark’ to describe how Spree directs you into the ideal zone for an optimal workout,” said Peter Linke, Hothead president. “There’s simply no better way to learn how to maximize your body’s physical performance which, after all, is the ultimate goal of fitness training.”

Spree was named runner-up in the global M2M Challenge Innovation competition at the MWC in the CE category and was cited for “demonstrating the huge innovation potential in the world of machine-to-machine communication.”

Spree can be pre-ordered online at the crowd-funding site Indiegogo.com and at Spreesports.com. It will be available in stores by May, the company said. It retails for $299.

Apple accessories supplier Runware is now shipping its Runalyzer Blue fitness heart-monitor strap for iOS devices.

The blue chest strap measures heart performance and other biometrics and transfers the readings via low-energy Bluetooth Smart.

It is compatible with more than 100 fitness apps, including such popular titles as 321Run, iSmoothrun, Endomodo, RunKeeper and Runtastic. It can be used for most sports activities, including walking, running, cycling, mountain biking, roller-skating and skiing. For example, a GPS-enabled app such Runtastic can deliver heart rate and geo-location on a trail or mountain, the company said.

Available features include heart rate, heart-rate zones, distance, altitude, speed and calories burned. Vocal sports coaching tutorials can be programmed to alternate with a music play list.

The Runalyzer Blue utilizes the latest Bluetooth Smart to run for up to 18 months with a single battery on a daily use basis. The technology enables direct communication with the smartphone without an additional receiver.

Commenting on the launch, Jean-François Laurent, Runware’s sales director, said, “Our reseller partners and distributors expected a comprehensive range to satisfy all iPhone users, but also iPod and iPad owners with the maximum compatible apps available completed by a wide selection of armbands designed for sports. We designed a full range of sports armbands: for all iPhones, from 3G to 5, in two sizes and in several colors, including pink that happens to be very successful with young women.”

The Runalyzer Blue has a suggested retail of $74 and debuted on Amazon.com, along with Runware’s line of sport armbands.

Wahoo Fitness is shipping its Rflkt bike computer for iOS devices.

The Rflkt mounts on a bike’s handlebars and wirelessly transmits cycling data via low-energy Bluetooth Smart to a Wahoo Fitness cycling iPhone app. The user must be wearing one of Wahoo’s fitness sensors, sold separately, such as Wahoo’s speed and cadence sensor, heart rate monitor and the recently unveiled Kickr Power Trainer.

The iPhone cycling system allows users to monitor vitals including power, speed, cadence, heart rate, pace, distance, location and course navigation, among others.

Equipped with control buttons, cyclists can operate the Wahoo Fitness iPhone cycling app, toggle between screens, start/stop intervals and control iPhone functionality such as music playback all from the Rflkt , while the iPhone remains safely stowed in a jersey pocket or bikemounted storage compartment.

The Rflkt boasts a thin 0.5-inch deep profile, weighs 2 ounces and gets a year of use out of a replaceable coin cell battery.

“Rflkt is the perfect solution for app-loving, data-junkie cyclists that shy away from mounting their pricey iPhone on their handlebars, risking drop, crash and weather damages,” said Chip Hawkins, CEO of Wahoo Fitness. “Instead of the iPhone sitting idle in your back pocket, the Rflkt captures all that data from the iPhone and displays it on your handlebars in real time. This puts your app info, GPS, music, speed/cadence, heart rate, power and all other cycling data conveniently within view and reach like a traditional bike computer.”

It retails for $130. Compatibility with other popular cycling apps will be rolled out in the future, the company said.

Start-up Amiigo unveiled a Bluetooth Smart fitness bracelet and shoe clip that identifies what exercise is being performed and details the body’s physiological response. Amiigo can differentiate between running on a treadmill and using an elliptical, for example. Sensors in the bracelet correlate with upper body exercises and sensors in the shoe-clip focus on the lower body. Together, the two devices link up via low-energy Bluetooth Smart with the Amiigo app, which runs on iOS or Android, and records more than 100 different exercises and movements. Users can create and record their own exercise to be recognized in future workouts.

Using accelerometers and machine learning algorithms, Amiigo tracks heart rate, blood-oxygen levels, skin temperature and calories burned. Data can be shared via social networks.

The devices use thermoplastic elastomers and stainless steel for comfort and durability, the company said, and the bracelet is highly adjustable for a secure fit. Amiigo’s rechargeable battery delivers more than two days of active use on a full charge.

The Amiigo is available for preorder now on Indiegogo, and is expected to begin shipping in June.

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