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Thinking of Buying a 'Wearable?' Use Your Head

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Category: Hardware Published on Sunday, 19 April 2015

It seems that every tech news cycle since man invented the Internet has to have at least one article involving "wearables" or so-called Internet of Things (IoT) devices designed for your wrist. These range from exercise and heart rate monitors to fancy (and sometimes overpriced) watches. But there are a couple of companies that are urging us to use our heads.

The folks at Aquatic Safety Concepts and Spree Wearables have developed monitoring devices that can be used as headbands or hats to track everything from the number of steps we take to the risk of drowning.

 

The iSwimband from Aquatic Safety Concepts ($79.99) links to your iPhone via Bluetooth technology and warns you if someone has been under water for an excessive length of time.

We originally wanted to find a volunteer to drown for us (I nominated my annoying eight-year-old granddaughter), but we eventually settled on immersing the band in a pool of water to see how long it would take before it alerted us that a swimmer was in trouble. It was then that we discovered a timer that we could set to deliver alerts depending on who was using it and where it was being used.

Once the timer was set and the band was submerged, we were soon greeted with an audio alert on the iSwimband iPhone app that someone had been under water for more than the allotted time.

The range of the band is dependent upon "environmental conditions," but the company says it has a range of 100 feet. Our tests were effective up to about 70 feet, but we attribute that to possible interference from other devices and the location of our test pool.

The package also includes a wrist strap that can be worn by a toddler that will alert you when he or she enters the water.

Although it is only available for users of Apple devices right now, the developers have told us they are working on an Android version of the device.

Do you normally wear a cap or headband when you run or exercise? The folks at Spree Wearables have developed a way for these items to detect everything you'd expect from a wristband or other IoT device.

The Spree Smartcap and Headband ($199 purchased together or $89 for just the cap) gives you all the information you need to monitor your exercise sessions including:

  • Heart rate
  • Body temperature
  • Movement (steps, etc.)
  • Calories burned

The devices link via Bluetooth to a Spree Fitness app that works with any iPhone running at least iOS 7 and Android devices running Android 4.2.2. The app gathers information from the cap or headband while you're exercising, so you don't have to wait for all of the data to be downloaded. You can also run a selection of other exercise monitoring apps ranging from iBiker to MyFitness. Also, if you're a jogger, you can track your run using a GPS mapping tool included with the Spree app.

Other key features include:

  • The Spree POD, which tracks and monitors your workouts, is interchangeable between the cap and headband
  • The headband is made of silicone rubber and will deflect sweat from your eyes

Our conclusion? Maybe using our heads instead of our wrists when wearing IoT devices is a viable alternative to using our wrists.

 

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