Kinda Serious, Hardcore Or Crazy Fitness Maniac: Wahoo’s Trio Of New TICKR Bluetooth Heart-Rate Straps [CES 2014]

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The little dots on the sensor’s face are lights that tell you whether the sensor is connected, or if the battery is low. Photo: Eli Milchman

Cult _of_Mac_CES_2014_80x80 LAS VEGAS — Rather than come out with a more casual-oriented wearable fitness tracker like everyone (and we mean everyone) else, Wahoo stuck to its athletic roots and took the more serious route of improving the heart-rate monitor strap and accompanying training software the company introduced a few years ago.

In fact, Wahoo has created three new versions of its Bluetooth HR strap. The company even tried to restructure the way athletes think about training with the new “burn or burst” approach for the Wahoo iOS app.

First, the TICKR straps. All three come with Bluetooth 4.0 and ANT+ connectivity (which means you can use them with iPhones older than the 4S, if you have an ANT+ dongle; if you have a 4S or newer, you can use them without a dongle via Bluetooth). And that’s all you get with the $50 basic TICKR. For $20 more the TICKR Run adds a tri-axis accelerometer that figures out your running stride and suggest fixes to your form.

The big daddy is the $99, triathlete-targeted TICKR X, which adds swimmable waterproofness, a lap counter (for swimming) and the ability to measure cycling cadence via the accelerometer. It also comes with its own onboard memory that allows the option to train without bringing an iPhone, as the data can be stored and downloaded to the iPhone after the workout is done.

On the app side, Wahoo is trying to simplify the way athletes train. The key to the new approach is “burn or burst,” which takes “burn” low-intensity sessions (serious athletes will probably find this analogous with base training) and combines them with high-intesity “burst,” or interval training. The app will help you decide which you need, and then coach you through the appropriate eight-week session.

And there’s more. Gone, for instance, is the clumsy “220-minus-your-age” approach to calculating maximum heart rate; instead, the outfit has developed a series of physical tests that better pinpoint max HR. Wahoo says they’ve tested their method against a VO2 max test — a sophisticated testing procedure used by professional distance athletes — and that the results generated by the app are “spot on.”

The app update should hit the App Store next month.

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About the author

Eli MilchmanWhen he was eight, Eli Milchman came home from frolicking in the Veld one day and was given an Atari 400. Since then, his fascination with technology has made him an intrepid early adopter of whatever charming new contraption crosses his path — which explains why he's Cult of Mac's test editor-at-large. He calls San Francisco home, where he works as a journalist and photographer. Eli has contributed to the pages of Wired.com and BIKE Magazine, among others. Hang with him on Twitter.

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