As the convergence between the technology and fitness industries gains momentum, activity trackers are becoming common, or even fashionable accessories. The Nike+ FuelBand has been hugely successful, but there’s no shortage of other options like the Fitbit One, Withings Pulse and Jawbone Up all enjoying success in this new marketplace.
What always surprised me was that Polar, arguably the pioneer of targeted fitness technology products, hadn’t produced an activity tracker. But that’s about to change, with the Finnish fitness tech company announcing the Loop.
Like the FuelBand, the Loop is a wrist-based activity tracker that’s designed to monitor your every move, 24-hours a day. The Loop will synchronise with smartphone apps, which will be available for both iOS and Android. You’ll be able to view and analyse your activity via the app, and the corresponding web portal.
Polar has equipped the Loop with a large LED display, so you won’t have to get your phone out every time you want to check your progress.
Unlike the FuelBand, though, the Loop is waterproof, so it can continue tracking your activity in the swimming pool, or while you’re surfing, kayaking or snorkelling.
The Loop is designed to automatically distinguish between different activities, so it can tell whether you’re walking, running, swimming etc. This is something I’m looking forward to testing – so far, only the Withings Pulse can accurate tell when you’re running as opposed to walking, so Polar could be set to move the game on.
The Loop employs Bluetooth Smart technology to link to your smartphone, which means that it can constantly sync, and send alerts to your handset throughout the day. The Loop will keep you informed about your progress, and make suggestions to help you achieve your daily goal.
That Bluetooth Smart support also means that the Loop can pair with a Bluetooth heart rate sensor, such as the Polar H7. This allows the Loop to accurately calculate calories burned by factoring your heart rate, activity, age and gender into the equation.
The Loop will go on sale in North America and Finland next month, but the rest of the world will need to wait until early 2014. Rest assured that I’ll be relentlessly badgering Polar for a test sample, so check back for the full review.
Update: Today (15/01/2014) Polar launched the Loop in the UK with an introductory price of £79.50. That makes the Loop a very tempting proposition considering its extensive feature set. I should be receiving a sample device soon, so you won’t have to wait too long for the full FitTechnica verdict.