Activity trackers watch over you as you walk -- and some of them have India in their DNA
By Anand Parthasarathy
Bangalore, September 8 2014: Like so many of today's cool inventions, Leonardo daVinci thought of it first. The diaries of this 16th century genius include a sketch of a wheeled device to measure the distance covered by a Roman foot soldier on the march. Three centuries later, when not busy drafting the Declaration of Independence, America's third President Thomas Jefferson, busied himself by assembling clever things -- from a swiveling chair to a modern-day mechanical pedometer which kept track of the number of steps, the wearer took.
Fast forward to today, as mechanical gives way to MEMS -- micro electronics mechanical systems -- and we have the technology that fuels a whole crop of wearable devices called activity trackers or health monitors. Some of them come bundled into a smart watch: the new Swatch Smart Touch will allow you to check the time and your calories at the same time. But most popular personal trackers are stand-alone devices and the global brands available in India, for Rs 7000 - Rs 12,000 include:
- Nike+ Fuel Band, with its own display, a line that has now been closed by the sports shoe leader.
- JawboneUP, launched in 2011, even tracks you while you sleep.
- Fitbit, has a tiny display to check your walk or jog against your own target.
Vishal Gondal better known as the Indian pioneer of mobile games, started a company with investments from many NRIs ( inluding Dr Shriram Nene and his wife, actress Madhuri Dixit), to launch the GoQii wrist band fitness tracker. It has some nice features including a vibrating alarm and a touch display. It is available only as part of a subscription of around Rs 10,000 a year.
Last week saw the India launch of a new activity tracker --mymo -- that is different in some interesting ways. It is created by a Dubai based wellness tech company,Tupelo with the hardware designed in Germany, software created in Bangalore and manufactured in China. Unlike the other wrist devices, this one can be clipped on to the wearer's clothing and is as small and light as one of those lapel badges they give you at conventions.
It doesn't waste any of its real estate on displays and controls -- which are limited to a few winking lights to tell you that you have synced via Bluetooth to your Android or iOS phone.This logs the steps you have taken, the distance you have covered, the calories burned. When you set up the app, you enter your height, weight and sex and it uses this to recommend your daily distance regime. Tupelo has another device that can be used to measure your heart rate as you exercise. mymo works for 6 months on a one of those coin sized batteries and stores 35 days' data on board.
Tupelo CEO Martyn Molnar cites research that shows 85% of those buying wearable activity trackers tend to drop out of their fitness regimes in the early weeks. They need strong incentives and mymo gives it to them: a host of freebies like mobile talk time, groceries, airline free miles, vacation discounts... when they reach their fitness target.
mymo is just the tip of the Tupelo iceberg, adds Molnar. In the coming months, the company aims to build a comprehensive wellness platform in India. Based on a slew of cloud based, socially integrated, smart devices, Tupelo is designing a single repository of individual health data, allowing users to take control of their own wellbeing and fitness.
The mymo device is available at a 20 % discount for Rs 3375 at Amazon.in. But if you care to spend Rs 9999, you also get the virtual services of a doctor and personal trainer.
Start burning those calories today!