The fitness tracker business could be in trouble. Some analysts claim that the sales of these small, often rubbery wrist-worn devices will decline this year. I still see them in electronic and sports shops but their popularity seems to be on the wain. The key reasons seem to be the rise of other wearable tech products. Apple’s arrival in to the smart-watch arena has been important but other there are other types of wearable devices that can help you monitor how much good exercise you’re getting and I think this is where the fitness conscious consumer may be migrating to.
I try to run a few days every week and the humble wrist-worn fitness tracker, whilst useful to tell me how much distance I’ve covered doesn’t give me some the real statistics about running – how hard is my heart working? I’ve tried chest mounted heart monitor straps, connected to my smartphone and they provide good feedback on hear rate while exercising but after a week or two it became almost a chore to charge it, strap it on and hit the road. I think I may have found a solution, the LifeBeam Smart Hat.
LifeBeam developed their technology for the aeronautics industry and designing wearable tech that measures the vital signs of fighter pilots and astronauts is a serious business. They bring with them accuracy and expertise that can shake up the wearables market.
The LifeBeam heritage is obvious from the minute you unpack the box. The hat arrives in a sleek carbon case for storing or transporting the hat. Inside the case are a quick-start guide, a Micro USB charging cable and the hat itself. The cable connects to a USB socket on the hat which is located in little inner pocket at the back of the hat. An orange light flashes while charging and there is a visual indication by way of a green light when it’s fully charged.
As you feel along the side of the hat you’ll locate the power button and you activate the hat by pressing the button until it lights up. As the hat uses Bluetooth, you need to pair it with your smartphone the first time you use it. This process is different to what most of us are used to, as the hat pairs in your fitness apps settings rather than in the phone’s Bluetooth settings.
Using the hat is as simple as wearing it, but you have to be careful to brush back any hair and ensure that the hat’s sensor is resting against the skin on your forehead. There isn’t a LifeBeam fitness app as the hat is made to integrate with other devices and compatible apps. It’s compatible with fitness apps like Strava Cycling and Runkeeper and it uses a wireless technology called ANT+ for connecting to other fitness devices from Garmin, Suunto and even some treadmills. The calorie burn and distance covered measurements are useful but that’s data available often from free apps, but the LifeBeam’s real selling point is the measurement of heart rate and cadence.
There are a couple of negatives but none that irksome. The USB socket and power button can be fiddly to locate but you grow familiar with it and the hat isn’t as adjustable as it should be, so getting the correct size is important.
More at: lifebeam.com