Updated on 17 September 2013
Wearable tech meets smartphones
Data alone is not useful until it is transformed into actable information. At the heart of the revolution in self-monitored health is the smartphone; the Swiss Army knife of communications tools that puts achieving and maintaining personal wellness in the palm of the hand by way of apps that enable and inspire a custom approach to staying fit and pursuing a healthy lifestyle.
Smartphones bring together computing power with access to cloud-based databases and services, GPS, and built-in cameras and accelerometers. Merged with data from other external sensors, the possibilities for applications and services become endless. When Alberta-based 4iiii Innovations launched its monitoring products in 2011, the focus was on athletics.
The goal was to provide the wearable technology customer with data delivery options that work seamlessly and across different operating platforms to enable an existing suite of software hardware choices. The Company's Sportiiiis heads-up display uses colored LED lights placed in the user's peripheral vision to indicate pre-programmed ‘zones' for heartbeat, speed, cadence and power. The athlete gets real-time data without taking his or her eyes off the road. This year, 4iiii Innovations introduced Viiiiva, a heart rate monitor that bridges all the other biometric data to an iPhone and also provides other metrics such as R-R interval used for heart rate variability (HRV) and heart rate recovery (HRR).
With the launch of these products, the company has extended its reach beyond core athletes. Fitness apps including MapMyRun and Strava have exploded to let people plot their run or bike ride on a map while tracking their heart rate and pace, perhaps taking a photograph along the way, and then sharing data and photos with friends on Facebook or uploading their session to challenge a fellow runner or rider for a coveted position on an online leader board. Meanwhile, health and wellness apps such as SweetBeat and ithlete are offering the ability to track heart rate variability (HRV) and heart rate recovery (HRR) to assess readiness for exercise, stress levels, determine food allergies, and even detect underlying chronic health issues.
What is the appeal of these apps? The answer is ‘fun'. Apps that have embraced the concept of "gamification" (integrating gaming principles into an application) have seen a rise in user engagement. The aspect of community also plays a part in the success of apps. Sharing data with our friends, and maybe even with strangers supports our desire to belonging and enjoy strong self-esteem.