Category Archives: health

Fitbit ChargeHR Review

On review here is Fitbit’s ChargeHR activity tracker, one of its most popular models which provides heart rate monitoring in addition to steps taken, calories burnt and eyes shut. Designed for “active fitness”, it’s aimed at those people who take control of their fitness level rather than simply walking 10,000 steps. That’s me then. On a good day. Let’s take a look.

You can watch the unboxing and setup video above, though what you don’t see is that I completely destroyed the box getting the tracker and accessories out because you’re supposed to open the bottom not the top. Doh! Fitbit, you need “Open other end” printed on the top. Inside the box is the Fitbit ChargeHR, a Bluetooth dongle, a charging cable and small instruction booklet that directs you to the Fitbit site for more information. The dongle is only required for syncing to a PC.

Fitbit Charge HR box


The ChargeHR is available in six colours; black, blue, teal, plum, tangerine and pink. As you’ll see from the pictures, I had the teal one, which was fine when I was exercising but I did feel a little self-conscious wearing it with a suit at work. Unlike the Alta and Flex range, Fitbit Charge HR stepsthere’s no switching round of bands, so buy a colour you’re comfortable with. The ChargeHR band comes in three sizes, small, large and extra large, though the XL size can only be bought through Small is 13.7 cm–15.7 cm, large is 15.7 cm–19.3 cm and extra-large is19.3 cm–22.1 cm. Fitbit provide a handy sizing chart here. The ChargeHR has a proper watch-style buckle for the band, rather than the push through style of the Flex.

Getting started is easy. Charge the ChargeHR with the supplied cable, install the app on a smartphone or tablet, register if you aren’t already with Fitbit, follow the pairing instructions and job done. Now all you have to do is some exercise!

The ChargeHR is a extremely easy to use as there’s only one button which is situated on the left side of the unit. Pressing the button cycles through time, steps, heart rate, distance, calories, stories climbed and next alarm. For each statistics, there’s a little graphic followed by the number – footprints for steps, a heart for pulse and so on.

The main differentiator of the ChargeHR is the heart rate tracking. I don’t know much about the science but it appears to use a couple of greenish LEDs on the back of device to measure the pulse. The ChargeHR measures the pulse every second under normal circumstances, but when it detects exercise, it ups the data rate for real-time information so you can keep your pulse in the zone.

The charging port is visible on the back in the picture. Charging typically takes less than hour for a couple of days wear.

Fitbit Charge HR sensors

Clever as the ChargeHR is, it’s only once you start looking at the data generated that you really start to get benefit from the tracker. The Fitbit app can provide graphs and charts for most metrics. Here are a few showing steps, resting heart rate and sleep. I didn’t wear the ChargeHR every night, hence why there’s some missing data. Activity can be reviewed, giving heart rate zones – peak, cardio, fat burning – exercise duration and max heart rate. There’s lots of useful info.

Fitbit Steps Fitbit HR Fitbit Sleep

If you’re using a PC rather than a smartphone or tablet, Fitbit provide a web-based portal that provides similar information and analysis. For the really serious fitness fans, $50 per annum gets Premium privileges and extra analysis (which I didn’t investigate).

The ChargeHR does vibrating alarms too which is very handy if you need to get up without your bedside alarm waking your significant other. The alarm is set via the app and then sync’d to the tracker. I like this, though it’s not exclusive to the ChargeHR.

As expected in this day and age, there’s a social element too. You can add friends who also have Fitbits (of whatever variety) and see a leaderboard of steps taken each week. You can also earn badges for steps taken per day and lifetime achievements – I’ve a Nile badge for 6,649 lifetime kilometres.

I’ve had the ChargeHR for a couple of weeks now and I’ve been wearing it as much as I can. Sometimes I have to wear my Fitbit Zip on my belt when a teal bracelet wouldn’t be appropriate. Fortunately the Fitbit app (at least on Android) allows cross-syncing, so if you do 1,000 steps on one device and 1,000 on another, both will show 2,000 after a sync (or two). I like that feature as it lets me wear the Fitbit that suits my day.

Overall, I feel Fitbit have slightly stolen my thunder here, as the ChargeHR is being phased out and replaced by the Charge 2, but this could be an opportunity to get an excellent tracker for less money. Although officially priced at a penny under GB£120, it’s widely available for £89.99, even in shops such as PC World. The Charge 2 is currently £129.99, so there’s an effective saving of £40.

Thanks to Fitbit for supplying the ChargeHR for review.

Apple and Donate Life America Bring Organ Donor Registration to iPhone

Health App logoThe upcoming release of iOS 10 will include something that has never been done before. For the first time ever, iPhone users will be able to sign up to be an organ donor right through the Health app on their phones.

Apple has announced how this will work. First, an iPhone user needs to open the Health app on their iPhone. Users can sign up to be an organ, eye, and tissue donor right through that app. It is a simple process.

All organ donor registrations that are submitted from iPhone are sent directly to National Donate Life Registry, which is managed by Donate Life America. Apple points out that the ability to quickly and easily become a nationally-registered donor enables people to carry their decision with them wherever they go.

The Health app on iPhone includes Medical ID, which makes critical health information available in case of an emergency to first responders and is accessible from the iPhone lock screen. Medical ID can display categories like medical conditions, allergies, medications, blood type, and emergency contacts.

Donate Life America is a 501(c) 3 not-for-profit alliance of national organizations and state teams across the United States committed to increasing organ, eye and tissue donation. They explain the need for organ donation very clearly:

Over 120,000 Americans are currently waiting for a lifesaving transplant – and every 10 minutes, a new individual is added to the national transplant waiting list. Each organ donor can save as many as eight lives and heal many more through the gifts of tissue and eye donation.

The developer preview of iOS 10 is currently available to iOS Developer Program members. A public beta program will be available to iOS users later this month. The iOS 10 release will be available this fall as a free software update.

Azoi Kito+ Health Tracker Review

Kito+ logoAfter interviewing Azoi at Gadget Show Live, the team there sent me a Kito+ to review. I’ve been using it to check my vital signs over the past few weeks. If you didn’t read or listen to the original interview, the Kito+ is a credit-card sized health tracker that measures heart rate (pulse), respiration rate (breathing), blood oxygen, skin temperature and ECG.

Kito+ Box

The Kito+ sends all the data via Bluetooth to a nearby smartphone or tablet which displays the readings in real-time.  It’s even more impressive when you consider the Kito+ costs GB£100 (around US$140). The Kito+ can work as a standalone device with both Android and iOS smartphones and tablets, or it can be embedded into a case for the iPhone 6 series of phones from Apple. Let’s take a look.

Kito+ In Box

The box opens up to show the Kito+ on the left with the iPhone cases and charging adapter on the right. Beneath the lids are instructions and a USB cable. There are two sizes of iPhone 6 case included, one for the standard iPhone 6 and one for the Plus versions. The magnetic charging adapter snaps into place and the micro-USB cable powers it up. Fully charged, the Kito+ is good for a whole month of tests.


Turning to the Kito+ itself, it’s flat on one side with the sensors and buttons on the other. There are four sensors, an “on” button and two contacts for the charging adapter. The Kito+ is easy to use – simply hold in two hands with thumbs on the flat side, forefingers on the big shiny metal sensors and index fingers on the lower two smaller sensors.

As mentioned earlier, the Kito+ sends data to an app for processing, display and recording. It’s a straightforward app without too many bells and whistles, but it does have some good touches, such as being able to email your data to a doctor or physician.

When starting the app, you can either login to track your stats over time or you can go without a login, which is handy if you want a friend to try the Kito+. Once in, the next step is to press a small button on the Kito+ to prep the link between it and the smartphone. I found that occasionally this step didn’t always work but turning Bluetooth off and on again usually resolved it.

When successfully connected up, the smartphone shows how to hold the Kito+ and then moves into the measuring mode. This shows a real-time ECG graph and other figures as they are acquired over around 30 seconds. When the measuring phase is done, you can review your vital statistics.

Azoi Kito+ ReadingsAzoi Kito+ ECG

I can’t comment on the accuracy of the figures or the ECG but they seemed to be in the ballpark when I tried to measure my own heart and respiration rate. The blood oxygen measurement didn’t always succeed and it seemed very dependent on correct positioning of fingers and no movement during the test period. However, all the other measurements recorded correctly every time and I never had any figures that were so outlandish as to be unbelievable.

If you are logged into the app as an individual , the data is saved against the date and you can review your historical measurements if desired.

Azoi Kito+

Overall, I think the Azoi Kito+ is a great little device, especially considering the price (GB£100). I can see a number of potential users, from athletes and sportsman, or people who have a heart condition that can use the Kito+ under the guidance of a physician. I’m not medically trained so any docs who read GNC should chip in with comments on their view of the Kito+ and its potential.

For a full unboxing and demo run, there’s a video below. Thanks to Azoi for supplying the Kito+ for review.


Azoi Kito+ Health Tracker at Gadget Show Live

kito_homepageOnly a slightly bigger than a credit card, the Azoi Kito+ is a personal health tracking device that measures ECG, heart rate (pulse), blood oxygen, skin temperature and respiration rate. I’ve seen the Kito tracker a couple of times now and every time I see it, I’m impressed that such a small device can gather so much data for so little money (GB£99). Miran from Azoi tells me more at Gadget Show Live.

The Kito+ works in conjunction with a smartphone or tablet to measure the five stats mentioned earlier. The user holds the Kito+ with both hands and two fingers from each hand rest on four measurement points for about 20 seconds, during which the time the Kito+ records the data and passes it on to the Kito app. In real-time the app shows the ECG graph trace and other figures are shown once they’ve stabilised.

Azoi Kito+

As can be seen from the picture, the Kito+ can be embedded into phone cases for the Apple iPhone 6-series of smartphone cases. It’s not essential and the Kito+ works fine outside of a case with Android or other Apple devices. The Kito+ isn’t tied to one person, so a whole family can share the unit.

The Kito+ is available now from Azoi’s webstore for GB£99, which I think is great value when you think of the technology and potential value of the data. I’ll be bringing a full review of the Azoi Kito+ to GNC in the next few weeks.

Playbrush Brings Fun to Toothbrushing at Gadget Show Live

Playbrush LogoGood oral hygiene is important for everyone but getting children to brush their teeth can be a bedtime battle. Playbrush should help win the war, bringing fun into the bathroom. I get the toothpaste out with John to find out more about Playbrush and continue coverage of the British Inventors’ Project.

The Playbrush is small bulbous gadget that slips over the handle of a manual toothbrush and turns the toothbrush into a game controller. Communicating via Bluetooth, the toothbrusher plays a game “Utoothia” on their tablet or smartphone, encouraging correct brushing technique and duration. The Playbrush can be shared among a family with game apps supporting up to six people. It’s rechargeable and will last around four-to-six weeks on single charge, depending on use. The games are in both the Apple and Google app stores.

Playbrush with app

Originally a Kickstarter Project, the Playbrush launched back in November and is available now from the Playbrush store for GB£31 (says the store). There’s a bathroom kit for an extra £8 which is a vinyl pocket to hold the smartphone during brushing and keep it toothpaste free. It sticks to tiles or a mirror using suction cups.

I think this is neatly executed idea that’s very affordable, especially as it can be shared with more than one child, though I think Playbrush need a neutral colour that’s not blue or pink!

Mio Heart Rate and Activity Trackers at WTS

Mio Logo Mio‘s range of heart rate and activity trackers compares well with the big names in the fitness space, but it’s perhaps not the best known brand, though it does have history behind it. At the Wearable Technology Show, Andrew chats with Michael about Mio’s products and the background to the company.

Specialising in heart rate tracking during activity, all the models in Mio’s range have optical sensors built into the wrist bands to measure the wearers pulse. Typically, the trackers are accurate to one beat per minute when compared with a medical grade EKG. There are four models, Link, Velo, Fuse and Alpha, with the Velo aimed at cyclists.

Communicating with smartphones is done via Bluetooth (what else?) and the Mio’s are compatible with a range of appsANT+ devices and bike computers (not Alpha). In addition to the heart rate, the trackers will give the usual fitness metrics like calories and steps.

All the trackers are available now, with prices from GB£75 to £120. A new model, the Slice, is expected out later in the year.

Mio Alpha

Feverprints App Hopes to Provide Better Understanding of Body Temperatures

Feverprints logoMedical science has long accepted that 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit is the average body temperature for human beings. This standard is often used to determine if a patient’s body temperature is too high or too low. But not everyone’s body temperature is the same. This can cause problems when physicians are trying to treat their patients. Boston Childrens Hospital is hoping to gain some real insight into the world’s average body temperatures with its new Feverprints mobile app.

Feverprints is pretty straightforward. Upon installation and acceptance of the app’s terms and conditions, the app will then send a notification every time it wants you to take your temperature. This can be done the old-fashioned way with a standard thermometer or with a wireless smart thermometer paired with the user’s mobile device. Feverprints then collects individual users’ information and anonymously aggregates it along with other Feverprints reporters. Along with body temperature, the Feverprints app may also collect data on your movement, physical condition, and medication usage, depending on how much you’d like to share with the app.

Feverprints is currently available as a free download from the iOS App Store. There’s no mention of porting the app to other platforms at this time.


Cupris Smartphone Scopes at Wearable Tech Show

Cupris LogoThe smartphones in our pockets have cameras that could only have been dreamed of a few years ago, yet most only take a couple of selfies. So why not use these miracles of engineering to do more? Cupris‘ phone case converts the smartphone into a digital medical instrument. Helene tells Andrew more about their upcoming products.

The Cupris smartphone case mounts specialist medical lenses in front of the smartphone camera to take images and videos. The first device is an otoscope (right) for examining the eardrum and the second is an ophthalmoscope (left) for retinal imaging. The big benefit of digital imaging over the traditional scopes is that the pictures can be added to the patient record for review at a later date.

The otoscope will be available soon for less than GB£100.

Cupris Medical Imaging

ClearSky Helps Parkinson’s Sufferers at Wearable Tech Show

ClearSky MDParkinson’s is a terrible condition and while some drugs can ameliorate its effects, it can be tricky get the dosage regime right. Too much and the side effects include involuntary movements called dyskinesia. Andrew interviews Dr Stephen Smith from ClearSky and University of York about their wearable technology and software algorithms that can identify when a patient is receiving too high a dose.

The ClearSky LID-Monitor uses six trackers that are attached to the sufferer for a day, measuring and recording the wearer’s limb movements over the period. At the end of the day, the data from the six trackers is uploaded to a PC and analysed, showing the clinician the parts of the day when the patient suffers from dyskinesia. On the screen below, these periods are shown in green, giving the clinician guidance on suitable changes to medication.

The development of the LID-Monitor was part funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering.

ClearSky LID

Acticheck Personal Alert at Wearable Tech Show

ActicheckMany people in the UK will have seen advertisements in the past for emergency call necklaces and bracelets aimed at older people who live alone, providing them with reassurance that they can call for help in the event of a fall or other emergency. Typically these products are an older technology, relatively expensive and aesthetically uninspiring. Acticheck aims to bring the idea up-to-date with an inexpensive wearable solution using consumer technology. Andrew interviews Bill to find out more.

Acticheck Assure combines a ruggedised waterproof bracelet with a monitoring hub which connects back to a cloud portal using an broadband Internet connection. In the event of a fall or other emergency, the wrist alert communicates with the hub to send messages to relatives and friends asking for help. The portal can be accessed through desktop computer, tablet or smartphone to manage settings and view personal information.

Acticheck is available now for GB£239 which includes the hub, wrist band and a year of service. The wrist band does need replaced every year or so when the internal battery runs out at a cost of £89.