New Fitness Trackers That Think Outside The Box

Thanks to their boom in popularity this past year, we now have a certain set of expectations when it comes to what fitness trackers do, how much they cost and what they look like. However, a new generation of trackers is raising the bar for the industry—and no, we’re not talking about the new Apple Watch and its health-monitoring characteristics. These five new fitness trackers are integrating everything from touch screens to GPS units, and some are getting rid of the wristband altogether.

Sensor overload: Basis Peak
The Basis Peak is a truly full-body fitness tracker with a way to measure practically everything. It measures your heart rate with five different sensors, not to mention perspiration, sleep quality and skin temperature (yeah, in case you needed that). The brand’s own BodyIQ technology also automatically differentiates between and tracks activities such as running, biking and walking, and can also provide insights into your sleep quality. It uses this information to give you insights into your active life, which include notifications when you need to step it up.


GPS and activity tracker in one: Polar M400
This new device from Polar stands halfway between a GPS running watch and an everyday fitness tracker, making it great for the guy who leads an active life 24/7. The M400 records and saves running routes, heart rate and other biometrics when used in GPS mode, then uses them to help you up your game through Polar’s Smart Coaching app. However, it also includes sensors for monitoring your activities when you’re not pounding the pavement, including steps, sleep quality and daily activity.


A new way to interact: Striiv Touch
Although it seems to borrow much of its form factor from the Fitbit Force, the Striiv Touch has a one-up on its competition: a touchscreen. Measurements—such as steps taken, active minutes and sleep quality—are fed into a deep companion smartphone app, which fortunately doesn’t hold a monopoly on the information collected. The touch screen lets you swipe between various findings, and also displays text message previews and caller ID.


The fitness tracker-less fitness tracker: Jawbone UP App
Now here’s an innovation. Jawbone, the early adopters behind the Jawbone UP fitness band, have gone band-free with a new app that collects the same basic activity information most trackers record, using only your iPhone. Just load the app up onto your constant companion and it will count your steps taken using the phone’s sensors instead. Interestingly, there are two versions of the app, one that automatically tracks your sleep data, and one that requires users to manually input when they hit the sack and wake up.


Cheap and cheerful: Misfit Flash
How easy on the wallet can a fitness tracker go—$100? $80? The Misfit Flash outdoes most of its competition with an extremely light $50 price tag, all without dispensing the basics like step-, distance- and calorie-tracking. In fact, Misfit somehow managed to pack some relatively premium features, with sensors that quantify sleep and several sports, including basketball. The device can be worn using wristbands that come in several colours, or even on its own as a keychain or clothing clip.


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