At-Home Smart Tech for Workouts and Wellness

For a while now, innovation and invention have been bringing health and wellness services to our homes. For instance, technology has revolutionized the way we interact with doctors. Virtual appointments and check-ups are not uncommon anymore. Our homes are becoming equipped with an increasing number of smart devices, and as we age we are able to stay in our homes longer. Convenience, accessibility, and availability are important to modern users, and digital health developers are responding to that when designing new technology.

A woman on a stationary workout bike in her own home

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At-Home Smart Tools to Boost Wellness

New health technology has made it easier to stay fit and boost wellness without ever stepping into the gym or spa. These are just some of the innovative offerings.

Smart Mirror for Workouts

Imagine doing your yoga, Pilates or boxing class at home, standing in front of a mirror that acts as a video conferencing system. Mirror, a New York-based start-up, is now launching a home gym device that lets you see your instructor and classmates and join your class of choice in real-time. Resembling a full-length mirror, this high-design item is expected to bring in a new era of home fitness experience. Users will not only participate in a virtual gym class, but they will also get instant feedback and see their biometric data shown on the “mirror.” Founded by Brynn Putnam, a former dancer who can appreciate the power of using a mirror for practice, the start-up aims to make your home workout as fun and efficient as possible.

Smart mirrors are just one of the latest fitness-tech products bringing health-club-style workouts into your home. Peloton is another home fitness start-up that has been offering high-tech, internet-connected fitness equipment to its discerning clients. Their first offering was a spin bicycle equipped with a touchscreen that instantly takes you to a live fitness class. This has now been followed by a treadmill, called Peloton Tread. The success of this high-end company relies on the extraordinary experience it creates for users. Classes are streamed from a boutique studio in Manhattan, and those who participate from home are included in the class in a personalized way. For instance, gym instructors call out their names and cheer them on as if they were actually there as part of the physical class.

Earphones With Gait Analysis

Another piece of equipment that can make you more self-sufficient was launched by SOUL Electronics in 2017. The company’s newest earphones are powered by Beflex Biomech Engine and provide real-time athletic coaching by monitoring your running session. They measure a plethora of metrics, ranging from speed and distance to head tilt and balance. The accompanying app tells you how well you are performing, and an AI coach is available to help you adjust your training. Purportedly, this product is here to help you maximize your running performance and minimize your risk of injury.

Sometimes, subtle changes to home fitness equipment can help you improve your yoga practice, too. For instance, Naboso Technology made some adjustments to the original yoga mat to make your sun salutations spot on. Their team used scientific evidence from studies that looked at how specific textures influence balance and stability to innovate on the material used for yoga training mats. They are the first to use small nerve proprioceptive material that stimulates the proprioceptors on your feet and hands. This can help the body maintain an upright stance, and it also activates your postural muscles. Moreover, their mats are made from a harder material, which is supposed to stimulate your nervous system more effectively during your yoga session. At Naboso (meaning “barefoot” in Czech), they believe the way we stimulate our feet during exercise is important—and improving the process can affect the activation of our entire nervous system. In contrast, many traditional yoga mats actually de-activate our nervous system by blocking the proprioceptors in feet and hands.

App-Based Mobile Massage

Your back just started to ache this morning, and you would love a massage. Or, you happen to have a spare hour between meetings and could do with some relaxation. It used to be almost impossible to book a good massage therapist impromptu. The launch of Zeel Massage on Demand has solved that problem for many users. Zeel specializes in fulfilling same-day massage requests and brings together over 9,000 certified and vetted massage therapists in more than 85 U.S. cities. Massages can be booked through the Zeel app or website, and massage therapists travel to locations convenient to the customers, usually their home or a hotel room. The service prides itself on providing the best security for both customers and practitioners. If massage has been an elusive form of well-being for you due to logistical reasons, you can now reliably book your preferred type of massage (e.g., deep tissue massage, Swedish massage, prenatal massage, and sports massage) and in some cases have your therapist show up within an hour.

The Downside to At-Home Services

Although experts are finding many advantages of independent home fitness programs, some disadvantages have been reported as well. For example, a virtual workout might not be suitable for complete beginners who would likely benefit from hands-on guidance. Furthermore, many who self-direct themselves push too hard, which can lead to overtraining. One last point to consider, many high-tech home fitness gadgets currently come with a high price tag, making them available only to certain groups of people. For many, it makes more sense to test fitness modalities in a subscription model before committing to a purchase.

Additionally, security can often be a concern when using certain types of on-demand services. As such, it is important that the identities of customers and providers can be accurately verified by a trusted third-party service. Particularly when you are a first-time customer, you often want to know you are communicating with a verified professional. Zeel has a process for this. However, many other online providers omit the identity verification step due to difficulty and expense. As Robert Capps, the VP of business development for NuData Security, explains, online companies need to use multiple data points and authentication technologies if they want to be sure about user identity. In addition to username and password, different biometric methods (e.g., a thumbprint) can now be brought together to increase protection. Passive biometrics are often mentioned by experts as a layer that is actually invisible to users and fraudsters, yet provides a continuous authentication process.

1 Source
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  1. Capps R. The future of identity verification. Biometric Technology Today, 2017:7-9. doi:10.1016/S0969-4765(17)30034-6

Additional Reading

By Michael Rucker, PhD, MBA
Michael Rucker, PhD, MBA, is the vice president of technology for Active Wellness.