How many calories have I burned on the way to my printer?

One of the latest trends on the Wearable Technologies consumer health care market is the activity monitor. These are often coupled with an online coaching service.

Activity monitors are small wearable devices that track the activity of the wearer throughout the day – and some busy versions keep on going through the night. The often matchbox-size devices motivate users to incorporate more physical activity into their lives. A totally new approach to the fight against today’s obesity epidemic and discourage unhealthy living, the activity monitors track every little activity and inform wearers about the progress in reaching their preset goals. In most cases, the wearer can seek additional healthy lifestyle advice from an online coaching service associated with the product. At present, the top suppliers of activity monitors are:

The Silva ex30 Connect  is a small device that can be worn around the neck or in the pocket. It reliably and accurately counts steps taken using a 3D sensor, measures distance and calories and automatically keeps track of the time the wearer spent exercising. Data is recorded for seven days and can be transferred to the website via USB. At the website, targets can be set and evaluated, and friends can be challenged in step competitions. The device costs around €50.

Philips offers a device called Direct Life . The Direct Life system comprises an activity monitor and a one-year membership to a personalized website where members can view activity stats and make use of a personal coach, who is available for support and advice, via email, for one year. The device’s tiny green lights indicate the wearer’s progress throughout the day. It is waterproof and so small that it can be worn on a necklace. Data is transferred via USB. The device with membership costs €149.

Oregon Scientific offers a 10mm-thin pedometer featuring 3D sensor technology. The tiny, easy-to-carry monitor costs around €40. It can save 7 days of data, boasts a stop watch function and can display steps taken, distance and calories burned. The company also offers a pedometer that can be connected to a PC via a special hub. That one comes with nifty data analysis software. Those who walk at night might prefer OS’s pedometer with panic alarm function in case of emergency.

Ki Fit offers service packages for activity monitoring. The Ki Fit System includes a multi-sensor armband, a subscription-based online activity manager and an optional display. The device, only available in combination with the online service package, can track calorie burn, physical activity, steps taken, sleep duration and quality of sleep. Depending on desired options and the duration of the subscription, the packages cost between £100 and £320.

The Imperative Health Service Pack comprises an activity monitor that can be worn on the wrist, arm, ankle or in the pocket and can wirelessly transfer data to the wearer’s online account. The system also includes an intelligent weight scale that can communicate with the activity monitor and special software that connects the monitor to the personal online coaching account. The system can also be connected to the user’s smartphone. This health care coaching system more specifically caters to patients with such chronic diseases as diabetes and high blood pressure.

Fitbit   is an activity monitor shaped like a small black clip. It comes with a standard data analysis system or with a premium online coaching service package. The device keeps track of activity during the day and also monitors the wearer’s sleep. The device costs approx. $100 and a one-year premium service subscription costs an additional $50. Data is wirelessly transferred via a special base station. The device is currently only available in the US.

Conrad sells a pedometer with 3D acceleration sensor. This inexpensive, weatherproof device (it costs around €10) can track 7 days of steps taken, distance traveled and calories burned. It also serves as a watch with a stop watch function and features a backlight for nighttime viewing. Step length and weight can be set individually. The company also offers a solar-powered pedometer.

The AS 50  is an activity monitor put out by Beurer. It is sold for about €50 and comes with special software to analyze the data. The device can be connected to a PC via mini USB and can save two weeks of data. It is waterproof up to 10m, and features sensitivity settings for five different levels. Three cheerful emoticons on the display reward wearers for their achievements.

BodyMedia offers the BodyMedia FIT, a weight management system comprising a BodyMedia armband monitor, online activity manager, an optional display and, for iPhone® or Android™ smartphone users, free downloadable apps. The device automatically tracks the calories burned during daily activities and monitors quality of sleep. One of the armband monitors can communicate via Bluetooth. Currently, the system, only available in the US and Canada, costs between $200 and $260. Subscriptions for the additional online coaching service cost about $7 to $13 per month.

Aipermon’s AiperSunny monitors slow walks and jogging, and costs about €60. When the wearer comes closer to reaching his or her preset goal, a whimsical sun rises on the device’s display. The device can be coupled with an online coaching service via the internet. The online coach analyzes the uploaded data and gives recommendations. The company is working together with several different service providers.

Actismile (around €99) lives up to its name with its amusing smiley-face display. The grinning begins when the wearer approaches his or her activity goal for the day. Activity data can be transferred to a computer, where it is analyzed in a special software program.

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Johanna Mischke () is Editor-in-Chief at WT | Wearable Technologies – the pioneer and worldwide leading innovation and market development platform for technologies worn close to the body, on the body or even in the body. Besides being an expert for wearables and their broader ecosystem she is experienced in the startup world and international marketing. Johanna can be reached at j.mischke(at)wearable-technologies.com.