Clockwise from top right: Activity trackers: GoQii, JawboneUP, mymo, Fitbit,
Wearable way to health

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 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!