When you’re about to hit the gym, your usual routine may include both headphone and some sports watches. Finding both and making sure they’re fully charged can be a pain – but what if you could leave your watch at home?
That could happen soon. Sports headphones have come a long way in recent years, blurring the lines between earbuds and fitness trackers. Although Apple has yet to introduce heart rate monitoring for any of its best-selling Airpods, a recent report from market researchers at Orbis Research shows that in-ear heart monitoring technology is developing rapidly.
The Amazfit PowerBuds, Jabra Sport PulseFor example, the Bose SoundSport Pulse and the Philips ActionFit SN503 can both track changes in your heart rate as you run and log it into the mobile app, allowing you to see the intensity of your effort after each workout.
The Jabra Sport Pulse also has an SpO2 sensor that estimates blood oxygen saturation, which can be a useful tool for high-altitude workouts or measurements if you’re recovering normally. It’s not a medical tool, but if your buds indicate that your SpO2 is lower than usual, you may need to take more time to rest after your workout.
Measuring heart rate and SpO2 from the ear makes a lot of sense and can actually produce more accurate data than a watch. For example, working in cold weather can reduce blood flow to your hands and fingers, which affects the accuracy of smartwatches and devices like the Oura smart ring. The darkness of the ear canal also helps, as it means there’s no ambient light in the way of the LED light being reflected back from your skin and detected by the optical heart rate sensor.
Your ear is also powered by the same artery as your brain, which results in steady blood flow and a strong signal for the sensor to detect. Data from the headset is also likely to contain less ‘noise’ than data from a watch or ring, which moves back and forth as your arm swings. All of which can produce more useful results.
However, fitness trackers don’t just track workouts. They also track sleep so you can balance activity and rest – and the headphones start catching up there, too.
They are not headphones in the usual sense (like smart earplugs) but rather Amazfit Zenbuds impressed us with their sleep tracking when we tested them a few months ago. Not only do they accurately detect when we’re actually nodding (many watches record the entire time in bed as asleep), the fact that they’re on either side of your head means their accelerometers can determine if you are restless at night. , and changes in your sleeping position.
When we check Amazfit PowerBuds Pro Earlier this year, we also appreciated their ability to track your posture while you’re working at your desk – alerting you if you’re slacking and alerting you to extra force that your bad posture is putting on your spine. The data can be alarming; A particularly bad long slide can weigh on your neck the same weight as a small child.
A pair of headphones with all that technology could be a real alternative to wrist-worn fitness trackers for many people. The feature most notable by its absence is some form of GPS – whether it’s an onboard chip or (more likely) connected GPS piggybacking on your phone.
However, that may not be far off. The newly launched Oura 3 smart ring packs an impressive amount of workout tracking tools into its tiny chassis, and its maker is planning to add live workout tracking to the devices. its repertoire in the coming months. We still don’t know exactly how this will work, but stub screens suggest it will include mapping of running and walking routes.
If the necessary hardware can be stuffed into a device as small as a smart ring, then compressing it into a headset will also be possible in the near future. We’ll be listening closely for more developments.
https://www.techradar.com/news/forget-watches-and-rings-your-next-fitness-tracker-could-be-a-pair-of-earbuds Forget watches and rings – your next fitness tracker could be a pair of headphones