CES 2016: Innovation in Technology Shaping the Future of Fitness

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Business leaders, startups and investors met last week to attend the world’s largest tradeshow for consumer electronics, where fitness tech emerged as one of the show’s big themes.

Attracting over 150,000 people, the annual event which takes place in Las Vegas, is known for giving brands an arena to showcase the latest innovations in technology, whilst giving consumers an insight into the future and this year was no different.

According to the event’s organiser, startups that have exhibited at CES over the past four years have collectively attracted more than $1bn (£680m) in investment since 2012 and for the world’s leaders the show offers them a platform with unparalleled reach and exposure.

A myriad of innovative fitness tech made its mark this year, ranging from fash-tech to performance enhancing activity trackers, but which innovators have the power to disrupt the market and shape the future of fitness?

Under Armour

American sportswear brand Under Armour unveiled a portfolio of fitness products. The first,  HealthBox, designed in collaboration with HTC features a Bluetooth-enabled scale, a heart rate monitor and a wristband that tracks steps, distance, resting heart rate and sleep.

Set to retail for $400, the main advantage of the HealthBox rests upon the system’s seamless integration between each product which Wolfgang Muller, executive director – connected products at HTC says “covers everything a consumer needs to better manage their health and fitness.”

Also on the bill were wireless headphones that track your heartbeat as well as a version of the brand’s SpeedForm Gemini 2 running shoe, featuring a chip to track pace, stride and distance.

Expanding beyond fitness apparel, the brand’s latest push into connected health is expected to generate $380 million, or 5% of the brand’s sales in 2020, according to Credit Suisse estimates.

Competition in the market is fierce, with Fitbit, Misfit, and Nike all releasing rival products, but with 160 million registered users in Under Armour’s digital community, the goal is to sell existing consumers more apparel and ultimately reach $7.5 billion in sales by 2018.

Fitbit

The Blaze, Fitbit’s take on the smartwatch, monitors heart rate, connects to GPS and allows users to manage their phone’s functions.

Eager to make their mark on a new segment of the market, the world’s leader in wearable tech had been teasing the watch for sometime, but far from setting the market alight, since announcing the watch, the brand has seen its stock plummet by 35% as investors worry it lacks the tech to compete with Apple Watch.

Innovation in Technology Shaping the Future of Fitness

Image: Blaze

One of the main criticisms of the watch surrounds its failure to connect to third-party apps, as well as its lack of innovative features, proving that in a crowded market, even established brands are finding it difficult to stand out amongst so many groundbreaking products.

The OMBra

The OMBra, a sports bra with built-in sensors to track users’ fitness took on the barrage of smartwatches and fitness bands to lead an emerging pack of ‘fash-tech’ products.

Targeting women, the tech powered bra measures heart rate, distance and calories burned as well as tracking the wearer’s “breathing rhythm” in order to help moderate their respiratory system and enhance performance.

Innovation in Technology Shaping the Future of Fitness

Image: OMBra

With the ability to connect to apps like Apple Health, Nike+ and MapMyFitness, the product’s digital compatibility is a selling point, however according to OMsignal co-founder and CEO Stephane Marceau, ensuring it functions as a comfortable and supportive garment was of utmost importance.

As consumers become more demanding in terms of the integration, style and the design of trackers, products like the OMBra, that successfully marry functionality and fashion are starting to take prominence in the space.

Skulpt

The Chisel by Skulpt tracks and analyses muscle mass rather than overall body composition, reading the quality of specific muscles through a type of analysis known as electrical impedance myography.

Having already completed a successful Indiegogo funding campaign that quadrupled Chisel’s initial target raising $477,441USD, the team behind the innovative device have also been awarded various grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health to develop and validate it through various clinical trials.

Focusing on particular muscle groups, Skulpt highlights the move towards a new segment of specialized fitness trackers that go a level deeper than other devices.

A number of startups at CES showcased products catering towards demand for more high-tech personalised trackers that are better equipped to perform specialised tasks. InMotion’s Smart Ski Airbag Vest allows the wearer to detect changes in their balance. Healbe’s GoBe fitness tracker, meanwhile, claims to track calorie intake purely from a wrist-based sensor.

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