From earbuds that monitor your heart rate to forks that follow your every bite, some inventive new health technologies were introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2013 in Las Vegas this week.
Here's a roundup of gadgets designed to promote well-being that were featured at CES 2013.
The fork that follows each bite
The HAPIfork is an electronic fork that keeps track of how often you move food from your plate to your mouth. If you're shoveling your dinner faster than one scoop every 10 seconds, the battery-operated HAPIfork lights up and vibrates like a cellphone, letting you know to slow down. The fork, which retails for $99, is also slightly smaller than a typical fork to encourage portion control.
There is evidence that slower eating helps dieters control their calorie intake. In a 2006 study, diners who ate slowly consumed significantly fewer calories than those who ate quickly. And a study from 2009 may have discovered why: People who ate slowly reported a greater sense of fullness than those who ate faster.
Track your whole family's health from your smartphone
GeoPalz revealed two products at CES that reward kids for physical activity and let parents track their family's overall physical health. The ibitz PowerKey for kids connects to any Bluetooth-ready smartphone and uses a pedometer to track activity, which is then converted into "keys" that unlock rewards, such as games, apps, shows and custom prizes.
A complementary product for parents, the ibitz Unity, monitors the entire family's health in one place, tracking steps, distance, weight, height, overall physical activity and body mass index (BMI), which is a measure of body fatness based on a ratio of height and weight.
A watch that keeps the time and your heart rate
Unlike other heart rate-monitoring accessories that require a chest strap, the Mio Alpha wristband cuts out the middleman and uses two light sensors, which "see" how quickly your blood is flowing to measure heart rate directly. That information is displayed on the watch, which is designed for runners who want to make sure that their heart rate remains in an optimal zone. To that end, the watch can alert you via a small LED to whether you're in the zone. It also has Bluetooth built in, and can work with any number of Android and iOS apps, including Runkeeper, MapMyRun, MapMyRide and Wahoo Fitness.
Earbuds that tune in to your workout
In addition to listening to music, you can keep track of your heart rate and workout performance by wearing iRiver On headphones when you go for a jog. Powered by PerformTek Precision Biometrics technology, the headphones include a light emitter and light sensor in one earpiece to capture heart rate. The headphones also mix smartphone data to measure speed, cadence and aerobic performance. The headphones, which attach to a collar worn around the neck, will work over Bluetooth 3.0 with an app for Android and iOS when it launches in March.
Bands that stay on top of fitness stats
Smaller than an iPod nano, the BodyMedia CORE 2 straps around your arm and has four sensors that track calories burned, activity levels and sleep patterns. The armband has interchangeable face plates, straps and cuffs, for those who want to match the device with what they're wearing. Other features include a Bluetooth Smart Ready technology, which will make it easier to pair with its smartphone app and increase battery life.
Separately, the new Fitbit Flex is a wristband that tracks your activity and sleep patterns and syncs with a smartphone app to show you how active your lifestyle is. The band can measure how many steps you've taken, calories burned and quality and amount of sleep; it will also gently buzz to wake you in the morning. Four LED lights on the band show you how far along you are toward meeting that day's goals.
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