Wearable Devices: How Much Tech Fits on Your Wrist?
Wearable technology is the current big thing in mobile computing, a nascent revolution that promises to transform the way that we interact with devices and data. Right now, many developments in this space have to do with tracking your fitness levels—so you're in luck if you measure life by how many miles you run each day. Wearable tech isn't just for gym rats, though; these devices work just as well if you simply want to keep an eye on your activity or have a little digital assistant on your wrist.
Jawbone UP24 Fitness Tracker
This super-slim UP24 Fitness Tracker from Jawbone is made for those of us who see fitness as a competition. Like its competitors, it tracks your vital daily stats, such as calories burned, hours slept, and so forth, and logs them in an accompanying app. Unlike some others, the accompanying UP app lets you compare your activity against your friends.
Want to prove that you're more active than everybody else? Maybe just support each other in your fitness goals? The Jawbone UP24 has you covered.
Aside from its competitive and cooperative aspects, the UP app comes with an Insight Engine that helps you discover patterns in your sleep and fitness activities. It's also compatible with a ton of other apps like Strava and RunKeeper. All of this comes in a super-sleek form factor that's so light you'll sometimes forget you're wearing it.
Sony SWR10 SmartBand
A constant tech companion that you don't even need to take off in the shower, the Sony SWR10 SmartBand is waterproof and essentially life-proof. It connects with your Android smartphone and continually updates its accompanying Lifelog app with data on your movements, social, and entertainment activities.
You can also use it to pause and play music and skip tracks. A subtle vibrating alert lets you know when you've gotten a call or other notification. At the end of the day, you can check the Lifelog app to get an update on how your day went. When it's time to hit the sack, you can keep wearing the SWR10 to take advantage of one of its best features: the band tracks your sleep patterns and wakes you up with a light vibration at the optimal time.
Fitbit Flex Wireless Activity and Sleep Tracker Wristband
If you're an iPhone user, the Fitbit Flex is more up your alley. It's water resistant like Sony's SmartBand, and it tracks activity and sleep patterns in much the same way, but it works with an iPhone, Windows Phone, or Android phone.
The Flex also has a simple indicator that lets you check how close you are to achieving your daily activity goals. Whether you're looking to count steps, calories, or distance, you can check out the Flex's LEDs, which progressively light up as you approach your goals.
The Fitbit app has a wealth of tracking capabilities, including a barcode scanner that lets you keep track of your nutritional intake. You can sync data from the Flex automatically, not only to your smartphone, but to a Mac or PC via Bluetooth.
Pebble Steel Smartwatch
If a "digital companion" is more in line with what you're looking for, it's hard to go wrong with the Pebble Steel Smartwatch. Pebble started out as a crowd-funded tech newcomer, but it's putting out devices that are on par with just about anything the bigger players are producing, and often without the limitations other companies put on their devices.
Pebble aimed—and succeeded—to produce a smartwatch that would look at home alongside any fashionable regular watch. It's got incredible battery life, thanks to the Steel's reliance on a 1.26-inch e-paper display, which allows a full week's worth of use from a single charge.
The Steel can pair with an iOS, Android, or Windows Phone device. Once paired, you can use it to check notifications, read texts and emails, or control your music playback. It's also got a built-in step counter, plus a ton of other features, all packed into a design that just exudes class.
Apple Nike+ iPod Sensor
This one's been around for a while, but it's still one of the top options for digital fitness fanatics. The Nike+ iPod Sensor goes inside your shoe and links up to an accompanying app on an iPod touch, iPod nano, or an iPhone. Once that's all set up, off you go.
The Nike+ iPod Sensor records your time, distance, pace, and calories burned to the Nike+ app on your iPod or iPhone, giving you detailed data available at a glance. Once your run is done, the app automatically sends your workout data to NikePlus.com, where you can keep track of your progress over time and get motivation by checking yourself against runners from across the world.
Samsung Gear Fit
If you're looking for not just a fitness tracker but a cutting-edge mobile device, the Samsung Gear Fit is definitely the way to go. Samsung has packed the Gear Fit to bursting with tech, including a 1.84-inch curved Super AMOLED display that outputs at a resolution comparable to your smartphone. That display can show you emails, texts, and alerts while you work out, and its touchscreen capability allows you to interact with your smartphone with just a tap.
The Gear Fit currently only pairs with Samsung Android phones, but Samsung has built a wealth of applications to take full advantage of its capabilities. It has a heart-rate monitor, pedometer, and other sensors that share data with the accompanying Gear Fit app.
On top of all that, the Gear Fit is just one of the more stunning wearable devices on the market, truly a cut above the rest, from a sheer technological standpoint.
Garmin Forerunner 910XT
The Garmin Forerunner 910XT is one of the most durable and versatile fitness wristbands on the market. Underneath that simple exterior, the Forerunner packs a GPS tracker, barometric altimeter, and heart-rate monitor. All that tech allows the Forerunner to keep track of your fitness levels, whether you're running, climbing, biking, or swimming.
It's water resistant to 164 feet, with the ability to monitor a user's swim distance, stroke count, and pool lengths. With the press of a button, you can switch sport modes to have it track your running or cycling progress, and the Forerunner will keep tabs on your pace, distance, elevation, and speed.
Once your workout's done, all of that data automatically uploads to your home computer when you're within range. When that data uploads to the Garmin Connect service, you can use Garmin's service to get free triathlon training plans or just track your progress over time.
Garmin vivofit Fitness Band
Where Garmin's Forerunner is more of an all-purpose fitness-tracking device, the vivofit Fitness Band is much simpler, but it still gets the job done. The vivofit counts and displays the calories burned, distance walked, and steps taken over the course of a day. Its simple, easy-to-read display can show you the time, your progress toward goals, and even give you simple reminders to keep moving.
Inside, the vivofit band packs a heart-rate monitor, sleep monitor, and motion detectors to keep track of your activities. When it’s time to access all that data, the vivofit band syncs effortlessly with your computer or mobile device, thanks to its built-in Bluetooth technology.
TomTom Multi-Sport Cardio GPS Watch
Runner, cyclist, or swimmer: it doesn't matter. The TomTom Multi-Sport Watch lives up to its name, giving you fitness-tracking capabilities no matter what you're up to. Thanks to its built-in optical heart-rate monitor, it can track your activity rate in just about any conditions.
It also comes with GPS technology built in, meaning you can track your path on a bike, as well as your speed and elevation.
All of these capabilities come in a package that's built to take anything you can throw at it. TomTom's sport watch is scratch and impact-resistant, as well as waterproof up to 165 feet.
Polar Loop Activity Tracker
Polar's take on the activity tracker is the Polar Loop Activity Tracker, and it foregoes the super-simplistic look of some of its competitors for a (literally) flashier interface that puts digital reminders up front and center.
The Loop sports an LED display that can show you whether your current workout is more fat-burning or fitness improvement oriented. It can also show you your progress toward your fitness goals for a particular session, as well as your current heart rate, either as a number or as a graphical representation. If you're just a bit short of achieving your goals for a session, the Loop will even give you a bit of encouragement to push on through to the end.
Aside from the light coaching, the Loop, of course, tracks your activity levels throughout the day, telling you if you've spent too long sitting. It also links up with the Polar Flow web service to give you an ongoing tally of your activity and progress toward goals.