Wahoo’s first heart-rate sensor was of the pedestrian ANT+ variety, and connected to the iPhone through a 30-pin ANT+ dongle. Around a year later, the Atlanta-based outfit introduced the first heart-rate sensor that connected to a smartphone through Bluetooth; specifically and only to the iPhone 4s, since that was the only phone at the time with Bluetooth 4.0 under the hood.
Wahoo upped the ante again in January at CES, when they revealed a radical departure from traditional heart-rate based fitness tracking: Their new highly sophisticated, three-model TICKR sensor squad, combined with an all-new app that turns conventional fitness-tracking on its head. Now the first of the TICKR trio, the TICKR Run, is hitting the street.
The sleek lines of the just-redesigned Tao WellShell.
The Tao WellShell is probably unlike any iOS-connected fitness device you’ve ever encountered. It doesn’t simply track steps, or heart rate, or weight, or any of the other standard metrics tracked in dozens of other connected fitness devices. Instead, this little guy actually acts as the fitness device itself, rather than simply a tracker (though it does indeed also track heart rate, steps and sleep patterns).
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
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.
The not-yet-released Inner Balance Lightning dongle. Image courtesy of HeartMath.
The Inner Balance system pairs a $99 dongle/earclip sensor with an accompanying app with the goal of training its users to de-stress themselves (probably an over-simplification, but that’s the gist of it) through gamified breathing exercises.
To further this goal, HeartMath, the company behind the Inner Balance kit, has just launched a cloud-based service called HeartCloud to further gamify the Inner Balance sessions with the introduction of social aspects. HeartMath has also announced that new Lightning dongles for the earclip sensor will be available at the end of this month.
Till January of this year, the Wahoo Key for iPhone ($80) dongle pwned fitness on the iPhone. Why? Because the tiny, ubiquitous dongle gives the iPhone access to dozens of ANT+ sensors, and more fitness apps than any other system — turning your iPhone into a fitness-tracking powerhouse.
Then in January, Wahoo one-upped itself and introduced the Wahoo Blue Bluetooth heart-rate strap, which completely bypasses ANT+ and instead communicates via low-energy Bluetooth v4.0. Does this mean the Key is obsolete? Not by a long shot.
Fitness buffs love Runkeeper (and its accompanying iPhone app) for its ability to gather data from a wide variety of cloud-based services and gadgets they might use, so it can be stored and viewed in a central location; we haven’t exactly counted, but it’s a good bet that the all-knowing fitness service can import data from more fitness apps, services and gadgets than any other cloud-based fitness service on the planet. But with the nine more they added today, well, now it’s just getting ridiculous.
The area where the fitness tech companies congregate at CES seems to get larger and louder every year — and based on the preview emails or stuff we’ve chatted about on the phone, fitness at CES 2012 looks like it’ll be bigger than ever.
Wahoo’s popular ANT+ Fisica dongle, which allows the iPhone to read signals from fitness gadgets like heart-rate monitors, pedometers and bike sensors, is probably most widely used fitness iPhone accessory since its release a little over a year ago. And today, Wahoo took the first step toward killing it.
Philips has released a new iOS app for the iPad 2 that allows you to measure both your heart rate and breaking rate using only your device’s camera. Unlike similar apps that require additional accessories, this one claims to get its results from “the color of your face” and “the motion of your chest.”
Last week was just a little more sweet than bitter for Apple devotees who also happen to be fitness junkies. That’s because Abvio’s trio of fitness apps — Runmeter, Walkmeter and Cyclemeter (which we’ve raved about) — have been granted two big upgrades, namely iOS 5-style notifications, and something we’ve been waiting a long time for: the ability to gather data from ANT+ dongles like Wahoo’s Fisica.