Spire’s Health Tags, the dark and tiny devices you stick on your clothes to gather all sorts of health data from your steps, heartbeat and stress levels is now available at your local Apple Store.
The company started out with a breath tracking device to detect when you are feeling tense and help calm you down. But four years in and its now all about the wearable “tags” you stick on items of clothing like your pants or sports bra.
Yes, yes, there are lots of gadgets out there to gather similar information — the Apple Watch will now even detect if you have a fall or something is wrong with your heart — but the Spire health tag is nothing like a Fitbit or Apple Watch, according to the company. For one, there’s zero need to charge the device. One tag’s battery will last a year and a half before dying out. They’re also machine washable. You just pick a few outfits and stick a tag on each of them.
Of course a few other startups out there are working on making smart, washable, data-gathering clothes. Enflux makes the clothing and then sews in the motion sensor to tell you if you are lifting correctly. Vitali is a “smart” bra with a built-in sensor to detect stress. Then there’s OmSignal, which makes body-hugging workout clothes that gather “medical-grade biometric data to achieve optimal health.” But these tiny health tags are different in that they allow you to choose the clothes you want to adhere the monitor to.
Like Spire’s first product, the Stone, which earned more than $8 million in sales, according to the company, the tags will also pick up on times of stress and help calm you down through a series of breaths and focus on the app.
“Continuous health data will revolutionize health and wellness globally, but early incarnations have been hampered by poor user experiences and a focus on the hardware over the outcomes that the hardware can create,” Spire’s founder Jonathan Palley said. “By making the device ‘disappear’, we believe Health Tag is the first product to unlock the potential.”
Spire’s Health Tags will be sold in Apple Stores as a three-pack for $130, six-pack for $230 and an eight-pack for $300, with additional pack sizes available on the company’s website.
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Ugh. Help. We have to talk about our relationship. (Which, my profile page helpfully reminds me, began on March 13, 2013. I love your personal touches!)
So it’s that time of year: launch day for a brand new Apple Watch. Remember how I scoffed at those segments of keynote in years past? Remember when I assured you that this shiny upstart would never replace you, that your focused fitness functionality was all I ever really needed, that I loved going to sleep with you, that I’d never be seen dead with a wrist-based device that needed to be charged every day?
Yeah, about that.
It may not be true this year. The Apple Watch Series 4, and its rumored feature set, is turning my head. At the same time, I’ve started to notice certain flaws in your app (not you, mostly!) which, let’s be honest with each other, are not working for me.
And then there’s the fact that your parent company wants $150 from me for … well, there’s no easy way to say this, but for a nifty upgraded, larger-but-lighter touchscreen version of you. It’s called the Charge 3.
(You had to know this day would come, Charge 2. I mean, didn’t you replace the Charge HR yourself? Circle of life, man. Upside: you get to have a relatively impartial opinion in my replacement dilemma!)
Dropping that much money on a smartwatch kind of puts me in the market for other, more costly yet more functional smartwatches. Maybe I should pay a little more and get a little more? Which is why launching the Charge 3 in October — probably at the same time the new Apple Watch goes on sale — was not the smartest idea Fitbit ever had.
As you know, my wife has already gone over to the dark side. Before, it didn’t matter; we couldn’t compete or connect in any meaningful way even if I followed her into Apple Watch-hood, not the way I competed and connected with Fitbit buddies.
I also noted how her Watch seemed to run out of juice all the time. “The best smartwatch is the one that’s always on your wrist and charged,” I’d say, probably one too many times for my own good.
But then Apple showed off its upcoming WatchOS back at WWDC this year. It was practically made for couples: the walkie-talkie feature would save so much time on calls, and the one-on-one fitness challenges would help us kick each others’ butts into shape. Perhaps even more than the Fitbit friend step rankings.
And yeah, about those rankings. I can’t say I’m a fan of the way the Fitbit app now buries them in a “Community” tab that always opens on a social feed screen. Here I’m shown pictures and posts from people I don’t know before I can tap through to the important business of whether I’m kicking my actual friends’ butts in steps over the last 7 days.
Remember when that used to be the whole reason for Fitbit? It’s still the main advantage the company has over Apple: more of your friends are likely to use one. The fact that the app no longer puts this list front and center is baffling, de-motivating and sadly trust-destroying.
Giving me no choice but to look at another social feed is a dick move
I get that seeing selfies from strangers who are doing similar workouts may be motivation for some people, but certainly not everyone. I barely have time to catch up on my friends’ pictures and posts on Facebook. Giving me no choice but to look at another social feed is a dick move, frankly, and it makes Fitbit look desperate.
Also a dick move, alas: the proprietary charger. It’s an unwieldy clamp. It can sometimes be a hassle getting the clamp to fit right. There are times you came close to death because of that damn clamp. There are times I’ve forgotten to bring it on trips, and the device died.
I recently learned that the Charge 3 uses a similar, if smaller clamp charger. Fitbit, my loyalty could be won if you just gave us the regular mini USB jack that it seems almost everyone on the planet is always carrying!
Apple is no better when it comes to ripping us off with expensive proprietary Watch chargers. But at least its magnetic circle is easier to use. And if my wife and I both had the same charger all over the house, in the car — maybe we’d make it work. Maybe we’d never be without charge.
Maybe I could even charge it enough during the day to wear it at night and replicate the sleep tracking features you provide. An increasing number of Watch apps now track sleep, some in greater detail than you. (Sorry!)
Same goes for the simple two- and five-minute guided meditations you provide. I love those, seriously. Sometimes all you need is to be told when to breath in and out. But I wonder if I’m missing out on other meditation styles, and the WatchOS ecosystem offers a world of options.
How Fitbit could win my loyalty here: the app could actually record how many of those meditations I’ve done, and when, and for how long, instead of having all record of them vanish into the ether. I like to set a goal for how many minutes I meditate every day. Can your parent company help me with that?
I’m genuinely torn here, because Fitbit continues to have great new ideas alongside the bad. Case in point: the new Yosemite trail challenges, in which I can race up to 30 of my friends around a virtual trail in California’s greatest national park, with eye-popping visuals at pit stops along the way. As I wrote this I kept one eye on my Pohono Trail challenge, where I just passed Inspiration Point and am 2,000 steps away from the gold medal. Victory!
The secret sauce is friends. Don’t forget that, Fitbit. You hold the key to continued dominance over your flashy rival, as surely as the tortoise overtook the hare. Just give us an app that focuses on friends again, a charging system where we could borrow any friend’s cable, and maybe even let our friends in on how many minutes we’re focusing on our breath. (Competitive meditation, anyone?)
Thanks for the talk, Fitbit. As usual, you generally make me feel a lot better. May you continue to do so.
Fall is the perfect time to get back into a workout routine. Whether it’s hitting the elliptical at your gym or just getting in a solid run every day, finding time to work up a sweat becomes a whole lot easier once the temperature starts to cool off.
To make exercise even more exciting, we’d suggest investing in a fitness tracker so you can get constant, visual updates on your progress — and stay motivated.
The Ace is a great entry-level device for your kids. Like most other Fitbits, the Ace will track your kid’s steps, active minutes, and sleep so they can learn habits that will help maintain a health lifestyle. And since it’s designed for kids, the Ace will offer congratulations for hitting goals, save achievements, and even challenge other kids to challenges and send messages.
The Alta is more in line with the original Fitbit. It will track steps, distance, burned calories, active minutes, and how well you’re sleeping, which is standard on most Fitbit units. The Alta will even work with your phone to show call, text, and calendar notifications, so you don’t forget that meeting while in the middle of a workout.
For anyone looking for a new smartwatch, the Ionic is Fitbit’s offering in the space. It will connect with most smartphones to get text and call notifications, along with access to plenty of apps directly on the watch. It will also store over 300 songs and download your playlists from Pandora. It’s still a Fitbit at its core though, tracking your workout all sorts of workout (including swims and bike rides.) It can even track your heart rate and has a built-in GPS to help set routes and save your mileage.
Keeping up a healthy lifestyle isn’t always the easiest thing to do, and a fitness tracker can be a very helpful tool in maintaining that lifestyle. And if you can save a few bucks, that’s a very welcome bonus. Just make sure to jump on this Amazon deal while you can if you want to save on a new Fitbit.
Garmin continues to go head-to-head with Fitbit with the launch of its latest offering — the vivosmart 4 activity tracker. This sleek new wristband not only tracks steps, activities and gives you the weather but also comes with a blood oxygen sensor and will tell you how much energy you have saved up for your next full throttle burn session.
That new body battery energy calculator estimates the body’s energy reserves to help you figure out when you feel more rundown and why. You simply swipe through the menu on the display to get to your energy levels or a number of other data offerings like steps, heart rate, stress levels and stairs climbed. The blood oxygen sensor will tell you how well oxygen is being pumped from your heart to the farthest regions of your body and can help you figure out if you are getting a good sleep in.
I took the new vivosmart 4 for a spin this week and was not disappointed in the upgrades. First off, this is a very nice looking piece of jewelry. Its slim, fashionable design fits neatly on the wrist and comes in berry with gold bezel, powder grey with rose gold bezel, azure blue with silver bezel, and black with slate bezel. It also feels good to wear. The material is smooth, soft and lightweight, slipping on easily.
The new model comes equipped with a newly redesigned wrist-based heart rate sensor, VO2 max and tracker for various activities like running, strength training and yoga.
One other interesting feature includes stress level measurement tool that will remind you to relax and take a breath throughout your busy work day.
Like its predecessor, the vivosmart 3, the 4 comes with the ability to check the weather, play music, and receive text message updates. It is safe to use under water so it can be worn in the shower or if you want to go for a swim.
The battery life is also strong enough to stay charged for up to a week at a time. Compare that to the Fitbit HR and Charge 2, which last up to five days.
The body energy feature is also a nice touch. The tracker figures out your energy levels using a combination of data including heart rate, sleep, stress levels and activity from the previous few days so it will likely take a while to figure out how much output you’ve got before a workout.
Overall, I’d say it’s a nice watch to hang on your bod. However, there are some drawbacks. The display is hard to work with. I found I had to tap several times, not just twice, as the instructions indicate. It’s also not very intuitive to maneuver and doesn’t pick up immediately that you are trying to swipe through the menu at times. You’ll need to take some time playing around with it to get the hang of it.
This is an activity tracker I would like to recommend for the fitness and life balance oriented individual, except for the difficulty in navigating the screen. That is one area that could be vastly improved by the manufacturer and would put it at the top of my list for trackers instead of somewhere in the middle.
For those interested, the vivosmart 4 will retail for about $130 and can be found online or at a sports gear shop near you.
August 30, 2018 / Comments Off on Taking a spin with Garmin’s vivosmart 4 activity tracker, out today