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We Want These 7 Cool New Health Gadgets

A sneak peek at what's buzzy at this year's Consumer Electronics Show

By Julio Ojeda-Zapata

This year’s mammoth, high-tech Consumer Electronics Association trade show — known as CES — is underway in Las Vegas, with about 160,000 attendees from 140 nations. Each year, health and wellness products are a big draw, and their presence has been increasing, with a 40 percent uptick in exhibits last year alone.

This year is no different, as more and more players join the gear and gadgets game. Checking out all these new tech options requires a standard bit of skepticism, because notoriously, many products announced at the convention never see the light of day.

That said, the show offers tantalizing glimpses into the latest health and fitness trends. Here are seven of the products that stood out:

Smartphone Specs

ThinOptics aims to resolve the perennial “Where the heck are my reading glasses?” dilemma once and for all by turning them into smartphone accessories. The Silicon Valley company has designed compact reading specs that tuck into a special pocket on a phone case when not in use.

The glasses could take some getting used to, since they have no earpieces and hang on the bridge of your nose. But bundling them with your phone is genius.

(MORE: What's That You Said About New Hearing Aids?)

ThinOptics has $39 cases for various Apple and Samsung phone models, or you could get a “universal pod” eyeglass holder that attaches to any phone or phone case.

(MORE: 5 Reasons People Over 50 Should Love The Big i-Phone)

Cheap And Chic Fitness Watch

Leading fitness-tech firm Withings recently wowed wannabe fitness-watch owners with the French-designed, Swiss-made Activité wrist device, which is gorgeous but induces sticker shock at $450. Now it has released an Activité Pop watch that is a mere $149, is nearly as attractive and tracks a ton of fitness and health stuff.

(MORE: Why You Should Get Microsoft's New Fitness Band)

The Pop is good for runners and swimmers and also monitors sleep cycles. It’s kind of a social network on your wrist, too, since you can compete with all your friends to achieve fitness goals via a companion app. The Pop comes in an assortment of cool colors like Shark Grey, Bright Azure and Wild Sand.

Tech For Bicyclists

Most of us don't compete in bicycle races, but we do adore our leisurely weekend rides. And with an add-on tech accessory or two, we can get more out of our rides while feeling all futuristic.

For starters, French tech startup Connected Cycle has created a high-tech pedal that will record a rider’s speed, route, incline and burned calories. This Internet-connected pedal reminds you where you parked, too. The Connected Pedal is due later this year.

(MORE: 5 New Gadgets to Make You Healthier)

How about a cycling jacket that lights up? Visijax’s $120 Commuter Jacket is festooned with LEDs that let drivers know when you’re signaling for turns. Another LED array on the back flashes constantly. The lights run off a rechargeable battery pack.

Auto-Adjusting Belt

Millions of us loosened our belts a notch or so after mammoth holiday meals, but what if your belt could do that automatically?


Meet Belty, which was among the hits of this year’s CES. CNET calls it a “ridiculous but strangely popular showstealer.” From Paris-based Emiota, the Belty is motorized to make the necessary adjustments as the waist of its wearer expands or contracts. It is due late this year.

Healthy Lounge Chair

Deleterious effects of prolonged sitting are well documented, but the TAO Chair claims to be “an invisible gym in your living room.”

The chair prompts you to engage in a series of isometric pushing maneuvers, which are duly registered by embedded sensors that track how many calories you’ve burned. This data is displayed on a screen built into the chair’s right arm.

A TAO app guides the user through dozens of exercises that hit different muscle groups. This isn’t the equivalent of a gym workout, to be sure, but it is better than eating chips.

The chair’s maker, TAO Wellness, hasn’t announced a release date, but the product got lots of buzz at CES.

Tiny Sleep Sensors

Companies like Select Comfort are happy to sell you beds costing thousands and incorporating sensors to monitor your sleep cycles. But a company called SevenHugs is offering just the sensors at a greatly reduced cost.

SevenHugs’ high-tech system, dubbed HugOne, consists of a central monitoring station along with tiny sensors called MiniHugs that tuck under the mattress cover to keep track of how well or poorly you sleep.

“There is no need to wear anything during the night, and no need to synchronize or recharge anything,” the company says. “All you need to do is sleep.”

The HugOne gear, priced at $165, is now available for preorder.

Julio Ojeda-Zapata is a technology journalist and occasional author. His latest book is The Mobile WriterFind him at and follow him on Twitter @ojezap.


Julio Ojeda-Zapata is a St. Paul-based journalist focused largely on tech coverage. He is on staff at the St. Paul Pioneer Press newspaper, and he contributes regularly to the TidBITS, a tech-news site. Keep up with him at Read More
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