CES 2012 Preview: Fitness Gadgets Make a Power Play




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.

The big news this year is Low Energy Bluetooth v4.0, a new BT protocol that’s being quickly adopted by leading high-end smartphones, including the iPhone 4S. The previous generation of Bluetooth was too much of a power vampire, making BT-connected devices that used small batteries (like the coin-cells commonly used in heart-rate monitor sensors) impractical for BT connections; but because this new Bluetooth uses much less power, it’s a huge boon for fitness gadget manufacturers looking for a simple way to connect their devices to smartphones.

Of course, BT v4.0 isn’t the only story. Here’s a smattering of what to expect from the North Hall fitness cluster at CES:

Start-up Basis will be releasing a gadget that tracks the users heart-rate continually, without the need to switch between sleep and active modes. Like Scosche’s myTREK, the device uses optics to “see” blood flowing through veins (rather than the electrical pulses measured by almost all heart-rate monitors in use today).

Oregon Scientific says they’ll have a button-less touch screen heart-rate monitor that they’ve developed in partnership with yoga company Gaiam. This doesn’t sound like an app-enhanced gadget, but rather a stand-alone device; should prove interesting nonetheless.

There’ll be a new line of HD cameras, stereo headsets and FM radios — all 100-percent waterproof — from an outfit we’re not able to mention yet.

Bolstering the new stuff are fitness gadgets released in the last couple of months or so that we’ll take a look at:

Wahoo Blue – The world’s first ever Bluetooth-connected heart-rate monitor made its debut last month, made it’s appearance in no small part due to the new widely adopted Bluetooth v4.0. This should be the first of many Bluetooth-enabled fitness devices…

Jawbone Up – Another device made possible through Bluetooth v4.0, this bracelet ambitiously tracks pretty much everything you do — how much you sleep, how many calories you eat and burn — then gives you the ability to share all this info with the rest of the world. But the gadget has had its share of problems; has Jawbone gotten the Up’s act together?