Giz Gadgets: Can Gadgets Improve Your Health (Or Lifestyle)?

Each new week brings with it an abundance of new gadgets -- whether devised by tech giants like Google and Samsung or pushed by hopeful entrepreneurs to Kickstarter, they run the gamut from useful to niche to tech that nobody really needs. This week we're looking at gadgets that are designed to help you live longer, smarter and better.

Robot Medic image via Shutterstock


Garmin's Vivosmart Gets GPS With The HR+

The Vivosmart has been given an update, with the HR+ model featuring wrist-based heart rate plus GPS.

You’ll get running metrics, Garmin Move IQ auto activity detection, an always-on, sunlight-readable display and a water rating of 5 ATM — so it’s swim and shower safe. And of course, it tracks your steps, distance, calories, floors climbed and activity intensity.

The addition of GPS to the Vivosmart line means you can more accurately track distance, time and pace for your activities, as well as view a map of your activity. Additional running features include personal records, virtual racer, Auto Pause, Auto Lap and walk/run mode.

Using Elevate wrist heart rate technology, it quantifies the intensity of your fitness activities using “intensity minutes”. This feature helps you monitor their progress against activity goals.

Garmin Move IQ continuously monitors for periods of sustained activity. It automatically recognises walking, running, biking, swimming and elliptical training so you can easily track your exercise throughout the day without needing to start a timed activity. Once synced with Garmin Connect, you can review your full day of activity in a timeline view. 



Zepp 2 Is A Multi-Sport Sensor And Coaching System

While smart watches aren't really taking off, sport and fitness trackers are going crazy -- and it seems like there's a new gadget for every sport. We've covered everything from trackers for skiing to trackers for triathlons, the Zepp 2 can be used for pretty much any sport that involves a swing.

You can get Zepp 2 for Golf, Baseball and Softball, while Zepp 1 Tennis is also an option. The tracker is able to clip onto your sports glove, your bat or golf club in order to collect data on metrics such as swing speed, vertical angle, backswing and more. All this data gets visualised in the Zepp app on your smartphone or tablet, whereby you can take advantage of the app's inbuilt coaching advice. Just in case you need a little extra encouragement, the Zepp 2's Smart Coach now uses the voices of famous coaches and players to help you along.

Zepp 2 is available for $249.95 RRP through JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman and Rebel Sports.


Google Home Is The Potential Nail In Amazon Echo's Coffin

Google Assistant sounds like it could be just what smart home fans have been looking for in a digital assistant, but it’s pretty near worthless if it doesn’t have some good hardware to go along with it. That’s where the Google Home (previously codenamed Chirp) comes in.

The new device is a direct competitor to Amazon Echo, and it includes a speaker, always-listening microphone and the ability to control all the smart appliances in your home — including Google’s own Nest.

But unlike Amazon Echo, which can be a little dumb when you ask questions, Google Home taps into the company’s stellar search algorithms to provide smart answers to even the trickiest questions. And it lets you take advantage of Chromecast — shooting a show you might ask about directly to your TV or streaming a song to your Chromecast-enabled speaker.

The gadget also has a customisable appearance so that it doesn’t look like a big dumb black tube, but instead like something you might actually want to keep in your home.


Feel Is A Tracker For Your Emotions

Hopefully it's a little more accurate than that mood ring I had as a kid.

Feel is a wristband wearable that tracks your emotions, because why not. I mean, officially the point of Feel is to "recognize and track human emotions throughout the day, to help all of us develop positive emotional habits and achieve wellbeing." It also comes with an app that will give you helpful tips on how to achieve your 'wellbeing goals'.

This concept might be useful if, say, human beings weren't already generally aware of their mood state on a minute-to-minute basis. The press release continues with a use that may be of more interest to some -- using customer's emotional tracking to gather data for a variety of industries. That sounds more likely to be useful -- though I'm not sure how you get the tracker on the customers to begin with.


The Garmin Forerunner 735XT Is Designed For Triathlete Tracking

The Forerunner 735XT is Garmin’s new $699 lightweight multisport GPS triathlon watch, with 24/7 heart rate monitoring and built-in activities including running, cycling, swimming, multisport, hiking, XC skiing, strength training, paddle sports and cardio.

The design is sleek, the band is made from comfortable silicone, the display is big enough view stats at a glance during a workout and I’m thinking this might actually motivate me to work out.

The Forerunner 735XT is Connect IQ compatible, and is the first device to come with the Strava Live Suffer Score app pre-installed so you can track how hard they have been working based on heart rate data — you’ll also get a 60-day trial of Strava Premium.

"The Forerunner 735XT is the ultimate GPS smartwatch for athletes who want dialed-in data for training and race day," said Adam Howarth, General Manager Garmin Australasia. "It offers comprehensive data for all of their activities, keeps them connected with smart features including notifications and automatic uploads to Garmin Connect, and lets them customise their device to fit their needs with Connect IQ’s free apps, data fields and more."

In addition to the wrist-based heart rate monitoring, you can add a chest strap during training and receive data including stride length, ground contact time balance, vertical ratio and more.


Revolar Is The Gadget Equivalent Of A Rape Whistle

Revolar's only use is to send an alert (of varying urgencies) to a list of your chosen contacts. It wants you to feel safe and connected -- however, there's nothing less helpful for feeling safe than carrying around an emergency distress beacon every minute of every day.

Given they do point out use cases like having an anaphylactic reaction -- in which case you'd probably want a direct line to emergency services -- or going on a hike -- in which case you should probably take a PLB designed for hiking that can easily be picked up on by emergency services.


Disney's New Telepresence Robot Is So Precise That It Can Be Used To Thread A Needle

The easiest way to make a robot as dexterous and capable as a human being is to simply let a human control it. That’s how Disney Research’s new telepresence robot works, but with improved hydraulics on board, it’s now capable of duplicating a human’s motions with remarkable precision — to the point where it can even be used to remotely thread a needle.

Disney Research’s latest creation is far from the first telepresence robot to be revealed. In fact, the technology has been used to allow robotic figures in theme parks to react to and interact with park guests thanks to a performer hiding nearby.

What’s innovative about this telepresence robot is its use of a new hybrid air and water hydraulics system that allows its arms to more closely mirror the movements of a human operator, and also provide near-instantaneous physical feedback, which allows for finer control. By using a mix of hydraulic and pneumatic lines, there are half as many cables running through the robot’s limbs, which reduces its weight, its overall size and increases its response time and precision.

A set of stereo cameras on the robot’s head provides real-time feedback to an operator wearing 3D goggles so that they can accurately manipulate its arms without seeing what the bot is actually doing.

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