Will Kelly explains why M2M is turning smartphones into the ultimate fitness accessory.
Mobile technology is trickling in fitness centers everywhere, and not just for texting or listening to music. Smartphones paired with wireless sensors help power the device communications of machine-to-machine (M2M) technologies, which are becoming the foundation of the next generation of intelligent fitness monitoring solutions.
You don't have to be a "gym rat" to want to stay on top of your exercise regimen. Measuring your workouts is even useful if you're on a diet or recovering from a medical condition. At a high level, M2M technologies and your smartphone offer the following as an intelligent fitness monitoring solution:
- Wearable sensor that hugs the body (M2M device that transmits data back to your smartphone wirelessly)
- Smartphone app with a user-friendly screen and features (generally a free download from the App Store or Google Play) for displaying and charting your fitness information
- Smartphone providing GPS and communications features for sending app data to the cloud for further analytics, viewing, and archiving
These three elements are non-descript and easily portable, whether you exercising at the gym or around your neighborhood. Currently, iOS seems to dominate with these sorts of devices, but I'm certain that Android will catch up at some point.
Monitor your daily activity with M2M and your smartphone
The traditional chest strap we associate with heart rate monitors is still around, but smartphones are edging out wristwatch monitors for capturing and reading your heart rate and calories burned. With the processing power that smartphones can offer, heart rate monitors are now morphing into full-scale activity monitors that are capable of tracking and measuring your activity throughout the day. Gym goers also have one less gadget to bring (and charge) if they move their activity monitoring to their smartphone.
Here are some examples of how M2M, apps, and smartphones come into play to measure your exercise and overall activity:
- Digifit: Fitness monitors aren't a one-size fits all solution, because users can range from somebody who is beginning to exercise after a health scare to an accomplished athlete getting ready for a marathon. Digifit offers an iPhone app with a Garmin Heart Rate Monitor (HRM) and ANT+ Adapter that lets the HRM send readings to your iPhone. Their product line serves a range of users.
- Viiiiva: Company 4iiii announced the Viiiiva heart rate monitor at CES 2013. It uses ANT+ sensors such as a bike pedal or cadence sensors via a Bluetooth Smart bridge to communicate between the monitor and an iPhone (or iPod Touch). It is compatible with a number of popular iPhone fitness apps.
- Spinning: If your idea of a cardio workout leans more towards Spinning Class, there is a Spinning app available for the iPhone. It offers some interesting tracking options. When you pair the Spinning app with Digifit Connect (a wireless transceiver), you can use sensors such as the Garmin HRM and the Spinning cadence sensor to track your heart rate or calories burned based on heart rate activity and distance (pace/speed and time). It also tracks weight, blood pressure, and sleep scores.
- Jawbone UP: The re-released Jawbone UP is a wristband monitor that tracks your activity 24/7, including sleeping, eating, exercise, and idle time. It can send the information to any iOS device running iOS 5.1 or greater and the UP by Jawbone app.
Sleep with M2M and your smartphone for better health
Sleep and quality sleep play an important role in fitness, especially for weight loss. If you're trying to lose weight and want a better view of your sleep patterns, then M2M and your smartphone might be of help here as well. Some of the previously mentioned activity monitors capture your sleep, but Zeo Pro also tracks your restorative and deep sleep. It includes:
- A wearable sensor (head band) for tracking sleep patterns and transmitting the data to the Zeo smartphone app
- Zeo Sleep Manager iPhone app for graphing sleep data received from the headband sensor, which documents the amount of time you spend in Deep, REM, and Light sleep
The app rates your sleep quality and includes an alarm that wakes you at the optimal time in the morning. All of the data that the wearable M2M sensor captures is then sent to the app for analysis, so the Zeo system can give you advice about how to improve your nightly sleeping.
M2M and a smartphone: Your new workout buddies
The technology offerings in this post might not be for everybody. However, smartphones and M2M are helping provide the technology platform that novice to accomplished athletes can use to better chart their progress and reach their next fitness goal.
For a comprehensive look at the issues and technologies surrounding the Internet of Things and the emerging M2M ecosystem, check out ZDNet's latest feature page, Tapping M2M: The Internet of Things.