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Review: SportBrain personal fitness assistant

Industry Standard
SportBrain
The SportBrain clips to your belt and records vital physical data to be analyzed later via the company's Web site  

(IDG) -- Do you know how many calories you burn taking the stairs instead of the elevator? How about every time you walk to the Coke machine?

Tracking how active you are is the idea behind the SportBrain Personal Fitness Assistant system. The egg-shape SportBrain tracker clips to your belt and uses a pendulum-like "accelerometer" that records every movement you make and when. If you wear an optional heart-rate strap, the data is sent wirelessly to the SportBrain tracker as well.

At the end of the day, you click the PFA into your SportPort docking station and it will automatically dial a local number to upload your stats to your free private Web site at SportBrain.com. No PC needed, just an analog phone line. The device dials, transmits and disconnects automatically. Then, you can log on to your personal SportBrain site to graph, chart, map, log, compare and annotate your data to your (rapidly beating) heart's content.

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Technologically speaking, the PFA works well and is easy to operate. Optional snap-on face-plates are available in several colors so you can coordinate the wearable computer with your wardrobe.

The caveat is that, ultimately, physical fitness is about self-motivation. No machine can make you jog around the block. SportBrain tries to tackle this psychological issue with cash incentives to get you off your couch. Every 100 steps you take equals one reward point. The more you move, the more points you earn. Following the frequent-flier model, reward points can be redeemed for gift certificates, discount coupons or other merchandise. (Current rewards include a $5 CDnow (CDNW) gift certificate or a SportBrain cap.)

Incentives aside, the other nontech issue calling SportBrain into question is whether walking 2 miles over a 24-hour period actually makes a difference if your favorite snack is a Snickers bar and a cappuccino. But arguably, any physical activity is better than none. And just think about how many hats you could earn if you hit the treadmill for an hour a day.

THE DETAILS

SportBrain Personal Fitness Assistant SportBrain

  • Score (1-5): Utility: 3; Design: 4

  • Estimated Lifespan: One year (fitness monitors are the precursors to a wearable computing revolution)

  • Price: $99.99

  • System Requirements: Analog phone line, Web access, self discipline




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