Technology keeping fitness on the pulse
Heart rate monitors are a valuable tool for fitness enthusiasts. Whether running, biking, or swimming, heart rate monitors help wearers find their optimal training zone. They help to safely push their body to the limit while maximizing the body’s fat burn and calorie usage.
Having revolutionised how we monitor fitness, the smartphone has provided developers with a versatile tool to utilise within the field of heart rate monitoring. Available for iOS and Android the Whats My Heart Rate app utilises the camera using advanced software algorithms to detect micro changes that occur when blood pulses through blood vessels on the face. Also applying a similar approach Azumio’s Instant Heart Rate app (which has now been downloaded over 10 million times), measures heart rate in 10 seconds using the smartphone’s camera and flash to track color changes in light passing through the index finger placed on the camera lens as new blood is delivered with each heartbeat.
For live heart rate monitoring in sports and fitness, two of the most popular fitness apps, Endomondo and RunKeepker have for a long time time enabled users to monitor heart rate parallel to other metrics such as speed, distance and altitude using a heart rate monitoring watch or strap to transmit this information to the phone. With the Endomondo Pro upgrade, users can also access heart rate zone information.
At FIBO 2013 we met Stephan Anne the Managing Director of Bizz & Sports who was demonstrating a new online heart monitoring system designed for cycling. In a track setting cycling teams of 50-200 can use chest strap heart monitors to relay heart rate information to a central antenna within a 500m radius which is then shared live online. This system offers a number of advantages both in terms of remote coaching and post-training feedback.
The fitness watch has by no means been left trailing behind in heart rate monitoring. With an intrinsic wrist worn design watches are perfectly positioned to monitor a users pulse. The LifeTrak Move C300 may not be the most attractive watch on the market but for $60 it more than makes up for it in features. It is waterproof to 90ft, bluetooth enabled, uses progress tracking algorithms and can be paired with Azumio’s Argus app.
Also seen to provide value for money is the RCX3 by Polar, one of the market leaders in fitness monitoring, was named the best heart rate monitor for 2013 under $150 by the testers at the Heart Rate Watch Company. The watch offers a fitness test, calories total and from fat, Polar training benefit and Zone Optimizer, plus the heart rate maximum which can be user set. It is also expandable into run, bike and GPS versions using all of Polar’s sensors to add pacing, distance and even mapping data.
The Timex Ironman Run Trainer 2.0, is a next-generation GPS-enabled watch that tracks pace, distance, heart rate, and elapsed time. This upgraded device is a smaller, more refined version of the brand’s signature Timex Ironman Run Trainer 1.0 GPS watch and is equipped with a reversible, high-resolution display and advanced interval training capabilities. It utilizes ANT+ wireless technology for chest and foot pod sensors to provide heart rate data for runners looking to improve their performance and is compatible with TrainingPeaks and MapMyFitness.com.
One watch that has truely shone over the past 12 months is the MIO Alpha. It monitors heart rate using lights mounted on the back of the watch to detected pulses. Then using built-in zone training programme features, the MIO Alpha display lights on the front of the watch to tell the user whether or not their heart rate is too low, too high or in the zone. So impressed were the judges at ISPO Munich 2013, that they awarded the watch ‘Product of the Year’.