Outdoors + Tech newsletter – May 29, 2020

Outdoors + Tech news articles, blog posts and research papers for May 29, 2020



Samsung’s smartwatch ECG feature gets green light in South Korea

MobiHealthNews, Laura Lovett from

The latest feature can now be combined with Samsung’s cuffless blood pressure monitoring feature, which got approval in South Korea a few weeks ago.

Wearable tech can spot coronavirus symptoms before you even realize you’re sick

The Washington Post, Geoffrey A. Fowler from

None of the studies have yet published peer-reviewed results, but we’re getting the first evidence that the idea works. On Thursday, researchers at WVU’s Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute reported that Oura ring data, combined with an app to measure cognition and other symptoms, can predict up to three days in advance when people will register a fever, coughing or shortness of breath. It can even predict someone’s exact temperature, like a weather forecast for the body.

Professor Ali Rezai, the institute’s director, said the technology is valuable because it’s tuned to reveal infection early on, when patients are highly contagious but don’t know it. He calls the combination of the smart ring and app a kind of “digital PPE,” or personal protective equipment. ‘It can say, “This individual needs to stay home and not come in and infect others,’” he said.

There’s more: Researchers at Stanford University studying changes in heart rate from Fitbits tell me they’ve been able to detect the coronavirus before or at the time of diagnosis in 11 of 14 confirmed patients they’ve studied. In this initial analysis, they could see one patient’s heart rate jump nine days before the person reported symptoms. In other cases, they only saw evidence of infection in the data when patients noticed symptoms themselves.

“The bottom line is it is working, but it’s not perfect,” said Stanford professor Michael Snyder.

The future of the Apple Watch is sensor-packed healthcare

Wired UK, João Medeiros from

Apple keeps adding more sensors to its watch that could lead to a whole new kind of medicine

non-wrist wearable

Designing technologies that interpret your mood from your skin

Lancaster University (UK), News from

Smart devices that measure electrical signals from your skin have the potential to tell you about your stress levels, help your sports performances and allow you to track your emotions.

An international team of researchers from Sweden and Lancaster University have developed an innovative way of interpreting biological signals produced by the conductance of our skin. Using data obtained using a Philips wrist-worn wearable sensor device that also include an accelerometer to measure movement, the researchers’ system displays information in the form of colourful spiral graphics in real time on a smart phone, as well as a recording of data, for the wearer to interpret and reflect on.

Sweat tech alerts athletes when to rehydrate — and with what

Science News for Students, Silke Schmidt from

Exercise affects the body in many ways. Our heart beats faster. Our lungs work harder. Our skin gets sweaty. And that sweat does more than cool an overheated body. It also carries away valuable moisture and minerals. Today’s fitness tech is now working to gauge that loss of water and nutrients. The goal: To help athletes know when to replenish both — or risk losing their competitive edge.

John Rogers is a materials scientist and biomedical engineer. He works at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. There, he uses engineering to tackle health issues. That includes pushing health tech’s boundaries well beyond the Fitbit.

That next frontier is a different type of wearable device. “It captures tiny amounts of sweat as it emerges from the skin,” says Rogers. These devices measure how much someone sweats. They also analyze what essential minerals the body is losing in that sweat. Rogers began working on such devices more than four years ago.

Best Heart Rate Monitor for Runners: We test chest straps and arm straps from Polar, Garmin & Wahoo

YouTube, The Run Testers from

These days, pretty much all of the latest GPS running watches also come with built-in optical heart rate as standard. But the accuracy can be sketchy and if you’re really keen on getting serious about heart rate zone training and unlocking all of those heart-rate based metrics like VO2 Max, Training Benefit and recovery insights, then a chest straps is an essential. From Garmin and Wahoo to Polar, Scosche and MyZone, we’ve tested all of the latest ECG-based straps, along with the best arm strap heart rate monitors to help you choose the one that’s best for your running needs. [video, 15:14]


2020 Connect IQ Developer Awards Winners

Garmin Blog from

Early this year, Garmin asked you to vote on your top Garmin Connect apps, widgets and watch faces in 2019. These developers work hard to make sure that Connect IQ has the best content, and we could not be prouder of our developer community. Congratulations to the winners of our 2020 Connect IQ Developer Awards!

Bluetooth Vulnerability: BIAS

Schneier on Security blog, Bruce Schneier from

… Bluetooth (BR/EDR) is a pervasive technology for wireless communication used by billions of devices. The Bluetooth standard includes a legacy authentication procedure and a secure authentication procedure, allowing devices to authenticate to each other using a long term key. Those procedures are used during pairing and secure connection establishment to prevent impersonation attacks. In this paper, we show that the Bluetooth specification contains vulnerabilities enabling to perform impersonation attacks during secure connection establishment.

What’s New

Strava from

We’ve made improvements thanks to your feedback (with lots more planned this year!), and moved a few free features into the subscription to ensure Strava is around for years to come. Here’s the latest:


Detect to Protect

ACS Sensors journal from

… The current coronavirus outbreak provides a few examples of detect-to-protect technologies that have helped minimize damage. The pulse oximeter—a device worn on the finger that measures blood oxygenation in patients—has been promoted(5) as a vital early warning tool in dealing with the puzzling problem of “happy hypoxics”, coronavirus-infected patients who feel and appear fine, but have critically low levels of oxygen in their blood.(6) Other examples include the airborne particle counters that come with many home HEPA air purifiers (my wife calls it a dog detector because it flips on high every time our furry dog walks into the bedroom), the infrared cameras used to measure body temperature of passengers walking through airport terminals, and kits containing nontoxic fluorescent dyes and ultraviolet flashlights being sold as a visual aid to teach people better handwashing protocols (see glogerm.com).

There are scientific and commercial challenges facing emerging detect-to-protect technologies: the science side involves identifying the sensing problem and its best solutions, while the commercial side involves identifying the paths to translating the most promising concepts into the real world. Some technologies might be excellent detect-to-protect solutions for problems that are far removed from what their inventors had in mind. Yet others will remain of dubious value forever. This challenge is made more difficult by the lack of a “killer application” for translation of many low-fidelity detect-to-protect sensing systems. Even very high-fidelity detect-to-treat sensing systems face this challenge when the small problem they solve just does not have a sufficiently broad market. The current pandemic underscores this issue in a stark and painful way.

We built a new GPS receiver engine!

Core Semiconductor, News from

… The more immediate reason why we built a GPS implementation was accurate time recovery. GNSS is basically a constellation of satellite atomic clocks and a receiver is essentially a device that determines the time signals arrived from those satellites with nanosecond precision. A lot of critical infrastructure requires precision timing, including cellular base stations and electrical grid synchronization https://blog.adva.com/en/why-time-sync-is-so-important-to-the-smart-power-grid for renewables integration and stability. We needed a super low cost GPS receiver that we could trust, but that was also focused on recovering accurate time (so called Overdetermined Clock mode) but didn’t cost thousands of dollars. We already had our own compute platform www.j-core.org and signal processing engines that we trust so we build a GPS receiver.

Lumen, the device that hacks your metabolism is available for purchase

Gadgets & Wearables, Ivan Jovin from

Smart scales are nothing new. Step on one of these, and your weight data will magically find its way to a corresponding app on your mobile device or web dashboard. Using the app or dashboard, you can then track your progress over time. But its 2020 and that’s not nearly enough.

Lumen is a unique pocket-sized device that wants to reinvent weight management by monitoring your metabolism and providing a customised nutrition plan. And it does all this by measuring the level of CO2 in your breath.


IU Researchers Identify Fabric That Kills Coronaviruses

Indianapolis Monthly magazine, Sarah Bahr from

IU researchers have demonstrated that a fabric with an electric field kills coronaviruses—and their discovery could revolutionize the future of personal protective equipment.


Some marathon races may not survive coronavirus pandemic

CNBC, Pippa Stevens from

Ironman Group CEO Andrew Messick said the company is focusing on five broad elements:

  • Density reduction, such as fewer race participants
  • Minimizing touch points with athletes throughout the race
  • Education and training to make sure people understand best practices
  • Promoting self-reliance, such as having athletes carry their own nutrition
  • Increasing pre-race screening
  • “What we’re going to continue to do, is to work very closely with our communities … when they’re ready for us to come back, our goal is to be able to deliver an event that’s going to fit within whatever parameters they decide is appropriate for their community,” Messick said. Ironman Group is the largest organizer of mass sporting events in the world, with more than 235 races — including the popular Rock ‘n’ Roll series — across 55 countries.

    Is It Safe to Go Back to the Gym?

    Medium, Elemental, Christie Aschwanden from

    … “Open businesses, open gyms, open the outdoors! Let people do what makes them healthy and happy!” tweeted International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) VP of communications Meredith Poppler on May 12. The IHRSA has contacted state governors across the United States, asking them to reopen fitness clubs, and stressing that club operators are “ready, willing, and proactively wanting to work in partnership with state officials on reopening plans.” (Poppler declined my phone interview request.)

    Not so fast, say public health experts. “It doesn’t make sense that indoor gyms are included in the first round of reopening,” says Leana Wen, MD, an ER physician, visiting professor of public health at George Washington University, and former Baltimore city health commissioner. The risks from heavy breathing in a confined space are simply too great right now, she adds.

    MNTNFILM – Mountaineering and climbing films

    Mountain Film Institute from

    MNTNFILM is a complete mountain film database and the largest catalog of mountaineering and climbing films available on the net. Find movies, shorts and documentaries from the beginnings of cinema to the present day.


    Pandemic a boon for the bicycle as thousands snap them up

    Associated Press, Olga. R. Rodriguez from

    Joel Johnson hadn’t owned a bicycle since he was 15, but the pandemic changed all that.

    Johnson first bought a multipurpose bike to avoid the germs on crowded buses and trains but then discovered a passion for pedaling around San Francisco, where some streets are now closed to traffic. He has been taking regular morning rides to stay fit and weekend excursions in leafy Golden Gate Park or along the Pacific Ocean. He has since upgraded to a new road bike.

    “It’s addictive,” he said.

    Johnson, 25, is among thousands of cooped-up Americans snapping up new bicycles or dusting off decades-old bikes to stay fit, keep their sanity or have a safe alternative to public transportation. The pandemic is proving to be a boon for bike shops, which have seen a surge in demand, with people waiting in line at still-open shops and mechanics struggling to meet the demand.

    Griz Expert Says ‘Mountain Bikes Are A Grave Threat To Bears’

    Mountain Journal, Todd Wilkinson from

    When it comes to safeguarding bears, scientists say wilderness-caliber lands, free of riders, are important to bruin persistence and other wildland species

    Streets for Pandemic Response and Recovery

    National Association of City Transportation Officials from

    The COVID-19 global pandemic altered every aspect of urban life in recent months. In response, city transportation officials around the world have quickly implemented new street design and management tools to keep essential workers and goods moving, provide safe access to grocery stores and other essential businesses, and ensure that people have safe space for social/physical distancing while getting outside. These evolving practices will shape our cities as we respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and are key to our long-term recovery.


    What can your microwave tell you about your health?

    MIT News, MIT CSAIL from

    For many of us, our microwaves and dishwashers aren’t the first thing that come to mind when trying to glean health information, beyond that we should (maybe) lay off the Hot Pockets and empty the dishes in a timely way.

    But we may soon be rethinking that, thanks to new research from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). The system, called “Sapple,” analyzes in-home appliance usage to better understand our health patterns, using just radio signals and a smart electricity meter.

    Taking information from two in-home sensors, the new machine learning model examines use of everyday items like microwaves, stoves, and even hair dryers, and can detect where and when a particular appliance is being used.

    How Pandemic-Related Stress May Be Impacting Your Runs

    Runner's World, Allie Volpe from

    … Mental fatigue, or exhaustion caused by a brain on overdrive, can have negative effects on our physical performance, research shows. A 2014 study found that prolonged mental stress increased the amount of perceived energy it took to work out, fatigue, and soreness for up to four days. Meaning: Not only will your run feel harder, but you’ll also feel slightly more taxed than usual afterward, too.

    Another study, also from 2014, showed that runners who were mentally exhausted ran slower than if they were not. In a review of scientific research, the authors concluded that stress can have a negative effect on physical activity performance. The main consequence of mental stress on performance is the amount of perceived effort needed to complete the task, studies show.

    Mapping dry wildfire fuels with AI and new satellite data

    Stanford University, Stanford News from

    As California and the American West head into fire season amid the coronavirus pandemic, scientists are harnessing artificial intelligence and new satellite data to help predict blazes across the region.

    Anticipating where a fire is likely to ignite and how it might spread requires information about how much burnable plant material exists on the landscape and its dryness. Yet this information is surprisingly difficult to gather at the scale and speed necessary to aid wildfire management.

    Now, a team of experts in hydrology, remote sensing and environmental engineering have developed a deep-learning model that maps fuel moisture levels in fine detail across 12 western states, from Colorado, Montana, Texas and Wyoming to the Pacific Coast.

    public lands

    National parks hope visitors comply with virus measures

    Associated Press, Mead Gruver from

    … Memorial Day weekend typically signals the start of the summer tourist season in national parks, when crowds gather shoulder to shoulder at popular scenic spots such as Old Faithful to witness the wonder of a geyser erupting.

    As with nature’s many other dangers, which in Yellowstone range from sunburn to charging grizzly bears, park officials plan to let the public mostly police itself against disease.

    “We can’t keep the public away from bison and bears every year at full staffing levels. So the notion that we’re going to keep every human being 6 feet apart is ridiculous,” Yellowstone Superintendent Cam Sholly said.

    Outdoor Brands Invest in Public Lands Defense

    SNEWS, Verde Brand Communications from

    Outdoor brands Velocio, Patagonia, and The North Face are supporting The Conservation Alliance’s effort to preserve and defend the integrity of our public lands system in 2020. Thanks to the support of these companies, The Conservation Alliance has awarded five grants from the organization’s Public Lands Defense Fund to groups working to defend the Roadless Rule, the National Environmental Policy Act, and Cascade Siskiyou National Monument.

    Muddy trail advisory: DEC urges Adirondack hikers to avoid trails above 2,500 feet until further notice

    newyorkupstate.com, David Figura from

    The state Department of Environmental Conservation has issued a “late season muddy trails advisory for the Adirondacks,” urging hikers to avoid high elevation trails, especially in the High Peaks, until further notice.

    Hikers should be cautious “and postpone hikes on trails above 2,500 feet until high elevation trails have dried and hardened.”

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