Lat­est de­vel­op­ments in health apps can push users to un­safe mea­sures, Ger­man ex­perts warn

The China Post - - LIFE - BY DAVID FISCHER

It’s not so long ago that the per­sonal heart-rate mon­i­tor was con­sid­ered high-tech among jog­gers. Now we live in the age of wear­able tech and health apps that can do more that just mea­sure your pulse while you run around the park.

The lat­est gad­gets can count steps, mon­i­tor the heart, an­a­lyze sleep pat­terns and mea­sure me­tab­o­lism rates. Many of the lat­est wear­able tech tools and apps were on show at the re­cent Fibo fit­ness trade fair in Cologne, Ger­many.

One com­pany showed off a sen­sor that is placed in the hu­man ear. Jabra de­vel­oped the de­vice to al­low users to make hands-free tele­phone calls and lis­ten to mu­sic while it counts their heart­beats.

The data is trans­mit­ted to an app that dis­plays the in­for­ma­tion in read- able for­mat. The de­vice is aimed at se­ri­ous am­a­teur run­ners, triath­letes and sports en­thu­si­asts with rel­a­tively deep pock­ets.

Ac­cord­ing to a study by Ger­many’s IT and telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions in­dus­try as­so­ci­a­tion, Bitkom, in 2014 about 13 per­cent of Ger­mans used an elec­tronic de­vice to mea­sure steps or calo­rie us­age.

Wear­able tech com­pa­nies such as Po­lar and Ap­ple of­fer their cus­tomers in­di­vid­ual train­ing pro­grams to go along with their de­vices.

Fit­ness stu­dios have no­ticed that com­pe­ti­tion, and are strik­ing back. The com­pany Techn­o­gym has de­vel­oped soft­ware that col­lects data sup­plied by tread­mills, dig­i­tal weigh­ing scales and cross-train­ers in gyms and stores it in the cloud.

Ac­cord­ing to the com­pany, this al­lows users to fol­low an in­di­vid­ual train­ing pro­gram with­out the need for a coach — that is when all the equip­ment is sup­plied by one man­u­fac­turer.

An­other strat­egy is fol­lowed by Myzone, which has de­vel­oped a mod­ern form of group train­ing aimed at at­tract­ing peo­ple to gyms, ac­cord­ing to com­pany manager Mike Leveque. Myzone has in­vented sen­sors that can col­lect data from sev­eral peo­ple at the same while they work out on ex­er­cise ma­chines in a group.

That in­for­ma­tion is col­lected to­gether and shown in real time on a screen to cre­ate a com­pet­i­tive at­mos­phere: who has the low­est pulse? Who burned the most calo­ries? When a group reaches their goal, they are re­warded with prizes in the form of T-shirts or drinks bot­tles.

“Fig­ures can act like a kind of cur­rency and help bind cus­tomers to the gym,” says Leveque.

Some tech­ni­cal mo­ti­va­tions can help you get health­ier, but there are a few fit­ness apps that achieve the ex­act op­po­site. That’s ac­cord­ing to a re­port in Ger­many’s big­gest tech mag­a­zine, Com­puter Bild.

The mag­a­zine tested sev­eral popular apps for smartphones and other wear­able de­vices. It dis­cov­ered that they of­ten set train­ing lev­els that are far too high for am­a­teurs and pay too lit­tle at­ten­tion to in­di­vid­ual phys­i­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics.

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