Monitor Yourself

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CES 2013 has showed up the plethora of fitness trackers and health monitors. The next big question is how will they integrate together?

A parade of fitness gadgets at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas may be just the antidote for the couch-potato behavior induced by all the 3-D televisions, gaming laptops, and other gizmos on display at the show.

Health experts hope that such technology could encourage healthier habits. And although it is not always easy to get people to pay attention to or act on the collected data, the medical device industry clearly senses an opportunity.

Other devices at CES include MisFit Wearable’s Shine and Fitbit’s new Flex, both wireless, watch-like activity-tracking devices. Meanwhile, Dallas-basedHothead Technologies will debut its new product, Spree, a headband with sensors to measure heart rate, body temperature, and motion that can work with or without a smartphone, says company president Peter Linke. Hothead Technologies sells overheating warning systems for industry and sports (say, for construction workers or high school football teams). The Spree could likewise warn exercisers when they are getting too hot, says Linke.

“The wide availability of trackers that connect to smartphones is changing fitness by encouraging ‘wear, share, compare’ tracking,” says Carol Torgan, an exercise physiologist and fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine. These devices “make it easy for people to upload their data and share it with friends, to compete, to brag, to set goals, and to be accountable.”

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