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Health & Fitness at the Consumer Electronic Show

health-tag-cloudMore space and attention was given to health and fitness at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) than ever before.  This reflects a growing consumer interest in living healthier lives.  Analysts see a big market ahead for tools that keep people fit, measure and motivate physical activity, encourage weight management, and promote healthy eating: all the elements of a healthier lifestyle.

The Consumer Electronics Show held annually in Las Vegas is the world’s largest consumer technology trade show.  It’s where leading companies announce their latest products and the place you’ll find the interests and products of the future.

A big surprise this year at the show was the booming interest in a relatively new product category:  Health and Fitness.  The participants, products, and display space in that product category more than doubled over last year!  Until recently, the only health related products found anywhere were either aids for the enfeebled or training tools for fitness fanatics.  So what changed since last year?

The big factor driving this trend is the cost of health care.  People are paying more – much more – for their health care this year.  To bring down their costs, employers are offering incentives; encouraging their employees to exercise, manage weight, and lose unhealthy habits.  People are more motivated than ever to take care of themselves and avoid doctors, hospitals and expensive drugs.

United Health Group responded with a huge exhibit display space.    Separate sections were set up to demonstrate tools, online applications, touch screen questionnaires, smart phone apps, exercise devices,  and health programs:  all designed to educate and motivate people to make healthier choices.  Representatives were on hand to promote United Health’s special health insurance policies that reward people for healthy lifestyles.

Much exhibit space in the Health and Fitness area of the show was also given to body monitoring devices.  Once sold solely to avid fitness junkies, these tools are increasingly being sought by average people.  What’s changed is that these devices now do much more than record heart rates.  And unlike the old bulky uncomfortable chest straps, they are worn comfortably on the wrist or waist.  As a result, they stay on all day… and night! They measure steps, stairs, calories, general physical activity and even sleep.  The results are transferred  to your smart phone or PC for analysis and review over time.  Best of all, the cost is reasonable considering their capabilities: $99 – $199.

Basis, a multi-faceted health/fitness monitoring tool, won a coveted Consumer Electronics Show Best of Innovations award.  It’s a watch that accurately computes and collects calories burned, physical activity, heart rate and sleep patterns.  Results are wirelessly transmitted to PC or smart phone.  Striiv and Fitbit are similar tools but they challenge wearers of their products to compare and compete with anonymous groups of people or friends that use the same product.  Body Media, an arm band device, collects 5000 data points a minute including body temperature, sweat level, and heart rate while accurately calculating calories burned!

After perusing all the Health and Fitness exhibits,  I came home from the Consumer Electronics Show and purchased my own FitBit. I’ll report back with my own experiences of wearing a monitoring device 24 hours a day every day (and night).  Is it worth $99?  Will I be more active?  Lose some weight?  Get more sleep?   We’ll see.


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