We’ve seen this all before, a new fad (if it is just a fad) comes along and gets super popular. Suddenly dozens of companies come out with their own version of that new exciting thing and sometimes it leads to a few very good devices changing the way we live… Or it over saturates the market and kills it, I’m looking at you Guitar Hero. It seems health is on everyone’s mind the past few years. With Wii Fit bringing a virtual trainer into your room, we have seen an explosion of new and innovative athletic devices geared toward helping you live better and healthier. From Kinect, to wrist bands to chest straps, lets go over what was, is, and will be around soon!
First up is the very beginning of this whole “workout device” thing, which I personally think started with Nintendo’s Wii. The Wii was a massive hit, breaking records around the world and selling out for over a year after its release. Wii Fit was an accessory built to help keep people fit and work with balance. The device worked well enough, but because it depended almost entirely on the Wii Fit Board, you were limited to what you could do on the board itself. This caused the workouts to not be very intense and typically centered around balance strengthening. But it sold well overall and many companies noticed. This caused a massive influx of workout games for the Wii, that saturated it’s market and eventually killed the fit line on Nintendo’s device.
Then came the Microsoft Xbox 360 Kinect, a device built to track you and your living space. This had far more possibilities, in that you were not encumbered by a “nun-chuck” and balance board. Instead you had the whole room to work with, and the Kinect camera’s tracked you in 3D to make sure you did the reps, how well you did them, and where you did them. EA, Zoomba and even Nike came out with their own workout games using the Kinect, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, but all three were fairly successful in accomplishing fitness goals. Nike ultimately won in features though, which brings us into the mobile age of fitness devices.
Nike, the leader of the mobile fitness at the moment, has a wristband called Nike+ Fuelband. This band syncs with your phone and computer to give you comprehensive workout data using your phones GPS and the bands accelerometer. Using a Nike+ account you can track your progress online, via your phone, and even do more workouts on the Nike+ workout game for Kinect, which also sync’s with all your data collected. With the overall success of Nike+ and their Fuelband it was only inevitable that other companies would follow suit. Under Armour, Jawbone and even Samsung (though it’s just a strap to connect your phone to your arm) have all jumped into the fitness fight for supremacy.
Under Armour has gone a step up by introducing a chest band that tracks your heartbeat and movement which is sent to a watch or your phone via bluetooth called Arumour39. It then puts these metrics together to tell you how much work your doing, how intense it is, and how many calories you may have burned, It’s a nice touch, and so far the app is only for iOS. Under Armour will probably introduce clothing specially made to work with the chest strap, that apparently fits comfortably and doesn’t hinder movement. Engadget has some more details on Armour39 on their site. Nike’s fuelband is a bit pricey, and that one aspect may cause other companies to catch up. As more and more apps are added to our mobile marketplaces using GPS and accelerometer’s to track running, we may not see this trend die out anytime soon, unless, like it has happened before, the market gets over saturated. We’re getting close though… just search for “fitness” in your app store on your phone… see how many results you get.