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At CES 2015, a Fitness Tracker for Every Sport

Alyssa Bereznak
National Correspondent, Technology
Yahoo Tech

LAS VEGAS — At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, the Yahoo Tech team could barely turn a corner without seeing a gadget meant to be strapped on your wrist, face, body or — in some strange cases — your butt. 

But, as wearables mature and the market gets more crowded, many enterprising startups are getting more precise in their tracking equipment.

Most are unoriginal and poorly designed, a sign that we may very well be approaching peak wearable device. But you have to give these gadgets points for specificity. Rather than simply measuring your steps, sleep, or heart rate, these new fitness trackers are designed to coach you through different sports, perfecting your technique and logging your progress as you go.

And because they’re targeted at just one specific activity, these wearables are often much more accurate than your typical one-band-fits-all Jawbones or Misfits.

Rather than setting a “step goal” and waiting for the rest to happen, exercise-specific wearables can hone in on your problem areas and prescribe helpful routines to overcome them. They also strengthen communication between players and coaches — whether athletes like it or not.

Below, a brief guide to the burgeoning sports-tracking scene the saturated wearable market has wrought. If nothing else, these devices will find new ways to tell you you’re not good enough.

Weightlifting(Courtesy of GYMWATCH)

All the world’s gym rats should rejoice in the capabilities of GYMWATCH Sensor, a band that counts your reps, measures your strength, and offers real-time audio and visual feedback as you pump iron. Simply place the German-made wearable on your upper arm or thigh and select one of 900 exercises from its accompanying iOS or Android app, and it will PUMP — *claps hands* — YOU UP.

Monitor your range of motion to ensure that you’re not overshooting or being wimpy. (Alyssa Bereznak/Yahoo Tech)

Though the company never reached its Indiegogo goal last May, it was still able to produce a small batch of the sensors that you can preorder on its website for $200 a pop. Pricey, yes, but it’s cheaper than hiring a personal trainer, and you’ll definitely need the encouragement when you hit set #850.

Yoga

The very-hyped Indiegogo graduate SmartMat contains about 21,000 sensors that can track your weight, balance, and positioning during a yoga session. It hooks up to your phone or tablet via Bluetooth and, as you practice, offers you audio and visual feedback via an accompanying app. So, if your downward-facing dog isn’t cutting it, SmartMat will be sure to let you know in the same passive-aggressive way your instructor might.

The app also comes with 16 preloaded yoga classes, including basic Vinyasa flows and other sessions like “Yoga for Weight Loss.” Eventually the company founder also plans to add in some hot-yoga sequences. You can preorder it now for $297, and it’ll ship in July. Namaste. 

Basketball

(Courtesy of ShotTracker)

Anyone obsessed with refining her basketball game will want to try ShotTracker, a $150 kit that allows you to track your shot attempts, swishes, and misses. The set is made of two parts: a sensor you wear around your wrist via a sweatband or sleeve, and a tracker you attach to your hoop.

Connect those items to your phone, and you can see your statistics, follow custom workouts, and see a “shot map” of your problem areas on the court via the ShotTracker iOS or Android app. (You can share that progress with your coach as well, to keep things honest.) The company is also working on some new and improved software that measures your distance from the hoop, so it knows how many points you scored. 

Just think: It’s only a matter of time that all these statistics will automatically feed into the Twitter accounts of the most annoying professional basketball players.

Baseball

(Courtesy of SwingTracker)

SwingTracker (no relation to ShotTracker other than uncreative naming) is a half-ounce sensor that attaches to the bottom of your baseball bat. Once there, it collects information about the speed, power, quickness, and control of your swing. All that information is then filtered via Bluetooth to an iOS app. From there, you can play a video of your bat’s path from rest to impact in a 3D view. This allows you to pinpoint parts of your body you’d never be able to keep track of while you’re on the field and in the moment.

(Courtesy of SwingTracker)

All the data you’ve collected over time can be shared with coaches or compared with other players in your age and skill range. Overall it’s meant to give you a better perspective of what your game looks like in slo-mo and help you adjust problematic ticks accordingly. It’s also a great alternative to doing steroids! 

Golf

(Alyssa Bereznak/Yahoo Tech)

Gadgets that track your golf swing aren’t new. Products like Swingbyte have been out there for a while now. But now Epson has repurposed the industrial-grade inertial measurement technology it uses to stabilize helicopters and gauge the sway of sky-scrapers to create its own super-accurate $300 golf tracker, dubbed the M-Tracer

Attach the small plastic sensor to any of your clubs (aside from your putter) and it’ll transmit a 360-degree view of your swing, map your club path, identify your point of contact with the ball, quantify your rotation, and lots of other very precise, very nerdy things. Up to 200 of your swings can be stored in the app. You can then compare them over time to see your progress (or to measure how you look next to golf champs). 

(Alyssa Bereznak/Yahoo Tech)

If all that analytical mumbo-jumbo is too advanced for you, you can opt for a plain-English analysis of what you should work on, as well. Pro tip: Try not to have a series of really shameless, public affairs. I hear that messes with your game.

It ships in February, but you can preorder it here.

Triathletes

(Alyssa Bereznak/Yahoo Tech)

The $150 AmpStrip is a heart-rate-centric fitness monitor that you can slap onto your torso like a Band-Aid. Via specific sensors within the adhesive band, it’ll track your electrocardiography (or ECG) while you’re resting and while you’re active. 

It’s perfect for competitive triathletes or marathon runners who often tailor workouts based on their heart rate but don’t want to wear uncomfortable body straps or use less accurate optical heart-rate bracelets. Plus, because the strip uses a disposable medical-grade adhesive, you can use the tracker for anywhere from three to seven days, depending on how sweaty you get. Its creators say it’ll stay on in the pool or the shower, too.

The AmpStrip connects to a number of heart-rate based apps right out of the box using low-energy Bluetooth signals, and will eventually have its own app when it ships in the summer. The beginner’s set — a box with the silicon cover, 30 adhesive strips, and a charger — will set you back about $150

Soccer 

(Alyssa Bereznak/Yahoo Tech)

It may resemble a man bra (aka a “bro”), but the Sports Performance Tracker has the potential to push any male sports team to another level. It contains a small pocket where you can slip a super-durable matchbox-sized GPS tracker. That tracker connects via Bluetooth to an iOS or Android app and filters data into an app called GameTraka. 

(Alyssa Bereznak/Yahoo Tech)

When you sign up for the app, you can be added to a team that’s then managed by your coach. Every game, the coach can see how hard you worked, how fast you ran, and how much stress has been put on your body. In the end, he can compare the stats of each player and see who the strong or weak links are. It’s sort of a slacker tracker that weeds out the weak and rewards the strong. I can’t imagine how horrifying this would be if applied to high school varsity soccer tryouts. But it’s perfect for intense sports clubs or other high-endurance contact team activities. Kits are shipping from Australia for $300 a pop. 

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