Jawbone UP24 support comes to Android


For the fitness band user and Android owner there are a few options not available to you as some products are only available for Apple’s iOS app platform. But in this emerging market but one of the stalwarts, Jawbone, has just made the transition to supporting Android in its most recent release.

A few months after Jawbone released an Apple version it has released the UP 3.0 app that brings Android support to the UP24 fitness tracking band, opening up a much bigger market.

The new app enables users to track a wide variety of physical activities up to and including sleep, food, and drink nutritional data. It is designed to enable a user to both set goals and milestones and to track progress towards achieving them. Users can log workouts, team with friends or rivals to establish competitions.

It has an array of alerts that a user can customize from ones that set nap time and lengths to ones that alert you to any time that you have been inactive too long and this can be set for different levels at different times of day. The app supports a wide number of languages including English, Spanish, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese (Brazilian), Russian, Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese.

The fitness band space is increasingly competitive as sports watches seemed to pioneer this space but a number of the lightweight and flexible bands have started to emerge as a viable and easier to wear alternative.

There are also a number of fitness bands such as the Nike + Fuelband, the Fitbit Flex that are strong players in this space and larger, more dedicated watch like devices that originally started out as single sport appliances have pioneered this field but it seems likely that the emergence of Android and probably other OS wearable devices from Google Glass to a possible Apple iOS-based watch will start to compete here as well going forward.

GPS Developer TomTom Set to Deliver Two Sports Watches


TomTom has delivered a pair of GPS-based sports watches, one that is focused primarily on runners while the other is designed for a more multi sports approach that should appeal to a much broader range of athletes.

The company had two design goals win mind when they built the TomTom Runner and the TomTom Multi-Sport GPS sport watches. It believes that most existing watches in this field are too bulky and cumbersome and so sought to shrink the size and make it a slim, easily worn device. At the same time it was seeking to use a large display to show the graphical training tools. It believes that it reached both of these goals as well as simplifying the use of the watch with its one button control.

The watches are both built on TomTom’s Graphical Training Partner, a program that allows users to track vital statics in real time. It has three basic modes: Race, Goal and Zone. Race allows you to vie against a recently set time or your personal best. Goal allows you to set a number of parameters such as time, distance or calorie and then track how you are doing against your goals. Zone has users set targets such as pace or heart rate and then allows you to track your progress during a workout. A heart monitor for this is an option.

Among the watches other features are an indoor tracker to so that a user can track activity on devices such as a treadmill; QuickGPSFix uses GPS and GLONASS satellite technology to quickly find users’ precise location.

Since many runners and other athletes already often use other apps to track and share progress the watches have the multi-platform compatability and can sync with a variety of alterative platforms including the TomTom MySports website, MapMyFitness, RunKeeper, TrainingPeaks and MyFitnessPal

All of these and other features are standard in both watches while the TomTom Multi-Sport also allows multi-sport athletes to track their distance, time, speed and other key metrics when they cycle or swim and includes a built-in altimeter and a bike mount.

Last year TomTom teamed with Nike for a GPS watch and it ran Nike Fuel but it is not clear if this one will also support Nike’s platform.

The TomTom Runner and TomTom Multi-Sport will be available in Summer 2013. The market for sports watches is a fairly crowded one, and one that will get even more packed if all of the rumored hybrid smartwatches that have been reported from the likes of Apple, Samsung, Nokia, Microsoft and others actually do come to market. I expect that including all of the ones that have appeared on Kickstarter their will be a glut on the market of these types of devices and users should spend some time considering how and when they plan to use such devices to see what will best fit their needs.

Velocomp’s iBike Powerhouse System Hits Market

Velocomp has delivered its iBike Powerhouse to the market just in time to train another generation of Tour de France hopefuls along with the much more likely crowd of weekend riders looking to step up their game.

The iBike Powerhouse is a portable computerized cycling fitness system that runs on either an iPod Touch or an iPhone and is designed to adjust automatically to an individual user’s exercise goals.

The system features power measurement and analysis technologies and features that monitor your efforts and provide feedback and updates that are automatically-adjusted based on a number of goal-oriented cycling plans that the company provides.

A user simply selects from any of the four to six week goal-based programs that the application features and it will set up a program that is designed to help you reach your goals with a series of rides that vary between 45-90 minutes long.

The plans, which include programs such as “iSlim, ”“CycleMax,”“ Express Fitness, ”“Brazilian Butt,”“ Weekend Warrior, ”and“ Zero to 20 miles also, allow a user to set their skill level so that a couch potato and a potential racer do not have to follow the same regime. Included in the information and feedback for each program are videos from cycling coach Hunter Allen that provide tips on overall cycling and how to improve your performance.

The iBike Powerhouse comes with a water/shock resistant case, a set of electronics for your bike that register your cycling performance and a wireless speed sensor. A handle bar mounting system also ships with the app so that a user can clearly see what is required for the current workout session. The iBike Powerhouse kit has a MSRP of $279 and comes with two workout programs, iSlim and CycleMax while additional programs are available for $9.99

Sports feedback is a very competitive field, with players from Nike, Garmin to all of Ant +’s customers and many in between trying to grab a piece of the market. Velocomp has a well rounded offering that has gained critical acclaim and should be able to carve out a nice niche for itself.

Lawsuit Jolts Athlete-App World — Is Strava.com to Blame for Cycling Accident Deaths?

The athlete-motivation application world got a jolt Monday when news broke of a lawsuit being filed against Strava.com, in part alleging that the results-comparison site caused a rider to push himself too hard, resulting in an accident that killed him.

This San Francisco Chronicle report (scroll down, it’s the second item) has most of the details — which stem from an accident two years ago when then 41-year-old William “Kim” Flint lost control of his bike while going approximately 40 mph in a descent on an East Bay road. Here’s a quick snippet quoting the attorney from Flint’s family, who is filing the lawsuit:

“If they are going to host events, give away prizes and draw in users to get the fastest times, then someone should at least come out and see that the routes are safe,” said Susan Kang, attorney for the family of William “Kim” Flint, the 41-year-old electrical engineer who died in the bicycling accident June 19, 2010.

Kang says Flint was “obsessed” with the bike-times website maintained by Strava Inc., the company being named in the lawsuit. He had learned the night before he died that someone using the site had beaten his record “King of the Mountain” time on the same hill, she said.

We’d never looked closely at Strava.com before but the site and its challenges seem pretty popular — certainly at the front of a marketplace just getting started, where weekend warriors can “compete” using recorded times on known routes, all done via GPS and device wonkery. But are some Strava.com users getting out of control, breaking laws and endangering lives in trying to become virtual champs? The latest twist in this scenario, according to the SF Gate report, is that Chris Bucchere, the cyclist charged last week with felony manslaughter (for running down a 71-year-old man in a crosswalk) was also trying to beat a Strava.com record.

We haven’t yet reached out to the company for comment yet, but on the company blog, Michael Horvath (who is referred to as Strava.com’s “fearless leader”) had a post Monday that seemed to answer the lawsuit obliquely: Titled “Stand With Us,” the blog post started with what seemed like a it’s-not-our-fault disclaimer that may or may not mean much to a judge and jury. Here’s the top of the blog post:

Each and every day we strive to improve Strava for you ­­ the athlete. We are athletes too, just like you. As the Strava community grows, we all need to follow a few simple guideposts to ensure that Strava’s impact is positive.

This is what we, the Strava community, stand for:

We know the rules. Laws and rules are created for our protection. Cycling, running and swimming are inherently dangerous and following the law, and common sense, when it comes to traffic, weather, or conditions, reduces our odds of getting hurt or hurting others. It’s as simple as that.

The blog goes on to talk about resting and honoring sportsmanship (aka, no cheaters) and ends with this line: “If you want to be part of the Strava community, we’d like you to stand with us and take these guideposts to heart.”

Something tells us that if lawyers are getting involved, it’s not going to be as simple as a statement on a blog to prove that Strava.com’s competitions didn’t cause harm. Or that the bad apples aren’t a part of the Strava.com community. There are going to be many who decry the lawsuit as some part of a nanny-state weirdness, but there is probably some legitimate question to be asked whether or not a site that promotes virtual competitions on real streets and trails is responsible for the participants’ actions, much in the way a 10K race must take out insurance to cover its runners. I have a feeling this may be the tip of the iceberg for such sites like Strava.com. It’s something we’re going to watch closely.

UPDATE: There’s a new blog post on the Strava.com site, with some new terms of service that appear to include language that basically says “you can’t sue Strava.com” if you happen to say, die or kill someone else while you are trying to beat your best time. Interesting language, no?

Mobile Sports Report TechWatch: Does Your Computer Have Malware?

FBI helping to block malware
An international hacker has apparently infected and taken control of a host of computers around the globe using an advertising scam to lure people into going to a site that downloaded the malware. When the hackers were arrested the infected systems still operated thanks to the use of government servers that replaced the crooks systems.

That program will be shut down in July and when it does and your system is infected you will find a ‘page not found’ alert when you try to access the internet. You can go here to have your system tested.

Amazon’s Kindle touch 3G is here
Apparently a week earlier than expected the Amazon touch 3G has started shipping out to customers around the world. The $149 e-reader stands apart from other offerings from Amazon and others in that it provides free 3G connectivity on a global basis. Users do not need to sign up for a plan with a carrier or add service on an existing plan to get the wireless capability.

Verizon to introduce multi-device plan this summer
Verizon dropped some good news to owners of multiple devices that can access the Internet wirelessly- it is developing a plan that will allow customers to bundle all of the devices under one roof rather than be forced to have a plan for each device.

This will appeal to people that own both a tablets and a smartphones and can now have all of the data on a single plan. Verizon now joins T-Mobile and Sprint in offering this capability. I suspect that this will be a boon for tablet makers as it removes a barrier to acceptance of these devices.

Smartphone compatible watch draws big interest from investors
The Pebble, a watch that can wirelessly connect to an iPhone has been getting tremendous play from backers via Kickstarter. If you are not familiar with Kickstarter it is a place to raise funding by setting a level that you need and then hoping that enough individuals or larger investment groups promise funding. If you do not reach your goal you get nothing.

Anyway Pebble was seeking $100,000 and so far has raised $1.5 million and growing. Early investors, for a set sum, get a slight discount on one of the watches. The Pebble can support multiple apps and operating systems and communicates with the smartphone via Bluetooth. A similar technology is used in rival products such as the Garmin S3 Golf Watch, among others.

A Crab Computer?

Author Sir. Terry Pratchett has developed computer that runs on ants in several of his Discworld novels, and now it appears that Japanese scientists have taken it one better and developed one that runs on crabs.

Maybe runs on crabs is a bit too inexact, let’s say that live crabs are used as logic gates in the system developed by scientists at Kobe University. I wonder how you go to get a project like this funded? Hey I think crabs are better then microcircuits and they have less gate leakage? Anyway drop over to Gizmag and see if you can figure out what they did.

Research-in-Motion hires firm for restructuring help
RIM, the company that makes the BlackBerry has hired the law firm Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCoy LLP to develop a restructuring plan for the company according to Yahoo! News. RIM is looking at a variety of options including the possibility that it might sell off some of its assets, developing joint ventures or engage in the very popular patent sell off.

Gemini Devices delivers inexpensive tablets-in UK market

While there is a growing wave of high end tablets, and two more are expected this week, there are alternatives for users that have simpler needs or a constrained pocketbook, and Gemini Devices is looking to meet your needs.

The company offers a series of JoyTAB tablets that include two 10-inch models, a 7-inch and an 8-inch JoyTAB. They have last generation technology for the most part, with single core CPUs and lower resolution screens than what are coming out now. The do have the latest version of the Android operating system, v 4.0 aka Ice Cream Sandwich.

With a starting price of around $200 for the 7-inch color model they might make a good solution for users that have simpler needs than the users that want/need all the bells and whistles associated with the iPads and others of that ilk.

Xtex has an even less expensive Tablet-and lackluster reviews
The $200 JoyTAB too rich for your blood? Well there is the $150 Xtex My Tablet 7, a 7-inch color tablet that also uses older technology to hit a low price point. The tablet includes a single core processor and has an 800 x 480 pixel resolution. Chris Burns at Slashgear has taken one for a test ride and warns that you will get what you pay for.

In Time for the Masters: Garmin’s S3 Golf Watch

OK, so you are not playing the course but Garmin International has timed the release of its latest golf watch, the Approach S3 a touchscreen golf watch, to capitalize on the desire to golf that the Masters Tournament seems to inspire in players year after year.

The sleek looking entrant comes at a time when golf watches are increasingly adding a host of features that just a few years ago golfers would have given their pitching wedge for and this offering shines with the best of the them from the looks of it.

The Approach S3 touchscreen GPS golf watch comes with 27,000 courses from around the globe preloaded so that walking onto a new course a golfer always has information at their fingertips. There is no fee or subscription for this feature and it includes course updates as they are available.

One of the overriding uses for the watch is as a virtual caddie and it has a host of features that help a golfer from a downloadable scorecard to a round timer for slower players to more specialized features. One of these is called Green View that shows the shape and layout of the greens, with the ability for the user to drag the pin to match that day’s location.

Other key capabilities include Layup Distances that include distances needed for doglegs and hazards; Precise Yardage for front, middle and back of green distances; and it has the ability to measure shot distances.

The watch is waterproof, which s good if your game resembles mine, and it supports an 8 hour charge for game play but four days as an everyday watch. A small charging cradle is included. The Approach S3 is expected to be available in April 2012 and will have a suggested retail price of $349.99.

The release is two weeks or so after Motorola Mobility released the next generation of its MotoActv family with a golf edition watch, the MotoActv Golf Edition. However Garmin has been in this game for a while and has a well respected track record so Motorola and others that are entering the field will need to show that they are not just as good as Garmin but have features that will differentiate their offerings.

I expect that with the increasing ability to cram a huge about of data into a small form factor such as a watch the features in this space will likely continue to grow, something that will put pressure on developers but will likely make the chance of breaking par a bit easier- if only you can get that hitch out of your swing.