New Ways to Track Health Unveiled at CES

CES 2012

There was a huge section of health tracking devices at the CES this year, and with the start of a New Year we thought it fitting to sum up some of the innovative new ways companies are looking to monitor your health. From calorie intake and burn, to heart rate monitoring, to sleep tracking, these devices aim to do it all to keep you more informed, achieve your targets, and make yourself feel and look better. Click on for some new devices you probably haven't seen before:

Tracking with Cameras and Lights

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Basis Health Monitor - $199 - early 2012 (preorder now)

The Basis Health Monitor touts being able to track your heart rate accurately and in real time without the need for a chest strap. The devices does this through a unique camera and lights system — the camera in the middle takes several pictures a second as green lights flanked on both sides reflect light off your capillaries. Those 'light pulse' pictures are then interpreted by the basis watch and a readout is given. But the band doesn't stop there, as it is designed to be a complete activity tracker with the addition of an accelerometer, thermometer, and perspiration sensor. You simply wear this monitor like any other timepiece, then sync it up to your computer (via USB) to get details on your activity, stress levels, sleep activity, and calories consumed through the clean, and organized Dashboard.

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Set goals, and share your achievements through your social network for added motivation. The smartphone independent device looks and sounds promising, but we wonder how many people want to wear a device all day and sleep with one as well for optimal tracking.

Tracking with Ear Physiology

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Valencell - $Unknown - Availability Date Unknown

In what the company is dubbing V-LINC. Valencell has designed sensors that fit in virtually any earbud to provide feedback on critical stats such as heart rate, VO2 max, metabolic rate and more. The folks at Valencell are hoping to connect to the 70% of us that already wear headphones while running with our smartphones. No other device required — you'd simply pop in these sensor-equipped buds and let the V-LINC sensors provide health feedback to your smartphone. Although, for now this is all just a concept. The Valencell are excited about licensing the technology to manufacturer's so they can bring these buds to you. We'll keep an eye out.

Tracking with Bioelectrical Impedence

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FitBit Aria Scale - $130 - available in March (preorder now)

You might be familiar with the FitBit from some of our previous posts. At the CES they unvieled a new datapoint you can add to your lifestyle chart via the Wifi-connected FitBit Aria Scale. This device is very similar to the Withings scale I own, as it allows you to track your weight and body fat percentage on your smartphone or computer. Body fat is measured with bioelectrical impendence, that although isn't the most accurate, does give good feedback on the progress you're making with your new health routine.

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Optimal tracking should be done at the same time of the day, and at least 30 minutes between rest or exercise. What the Aria scale does that the Withings doesn't though, is store up to 8 people for tracking, so if you've got a big family or a bunch of roommates this feature could come in handy. It's also a no-brainer if you already use and enjoy the FitBit system.

Tracking with Skin Conductivity

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Body Media Core Armband - $149.99 - available now

The Body Media devices use a variety of sensors (temperature, accelerometer, heat flux, and galvanic skin response) to track your total calorie burn and help you achieve your wieght loss goals. The device looks at the 4 sensors to recognize particular activity signatures (rest, eating, exercising) and calculate calorie burn accurately based on the length & duration of those activities. Like the Basis this is a lifestyle device that you should wear throughout the day for optimal analysis and feedback.

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At the CES we had some hands-on with the Core, their new device that's lighter and cheaper than the others. The device can sync to your computer, if you haven't jumped on the smartphone bandwagon yet. For those that have, the device connects via bluetooth to your device, and information can be displayed and food logged through the available apps (iPhone, Android).
What we don't like is that accurate calorie intake data requires food logging on their online activity monitor website — which has a monthly subscription service of 6.95/month (doh!). If that gotcha isn't deterring you though, then its likely you'll be satisfied with the device as it has lots of positive press on major news syndicates and good feedback on Amazon.com.

(Images: Chris Perez)