Outdoors + Tech newsletter – June 5, 2018

Outdoors + Tech news articles, blog posts and research papers for June 5, 2018



Hacked Fitness Trackers Aim to Improve Mental and Physical Health

Hackaday, Dan Maloney from

We all know that the mind can affect the body in dramatic ways, but we tend to associate this with things like the placebo effect or psychosomatic illnesses. But subtle clues to the mind-body relationship can be gleaned from the way the body moves, and these hacked fitness monitors can be used to tease data from the background noise of everyday movements to help treat mental health issues.

Over the last few years, [Curt White] of the Child Mind Institute has been able to leverage an incredibly cheap but feature-packed platform, the X9 Pro Sports Bracelet, a fitness band that looks more or less like a watch. Stuffed with an ARM Cortex processor, OLED screen, accelerometer, pulse sensor, and a ton of other stuff, the $35 wearable is a hacker’s dream. And hack it he did. One version of the bracelet is called Tingle, which is used to detect and avert body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs), compulsive disorders that can result in self-harm through pulling at hair or pinching. The Tingle is trained to recognize the motions associated with these behaviors and respond with haptic feedback through the vibration motor. Another hacked X9 was attached to a dental retainer and equipped with sensors to monitor respirations intraorally, in an attempt to detect overdoses. It’s fascinating stuff, and the things [Curt] has done with these cheap fitness bands is mighty impressive.


How Time’s Running Out for Swiss Watchmakers

OZY, Fast Forward, Ralph Atkins from

Zurich’s Bahnhofstrasse has long been one of Europe’s most prestigious luxury shopping spots. Its watch and jewelery sellers especially like to boast of their 19th-century heritage. Bucherer, for example, is undergoing modernization but the construction hoardings remind passers-by that the chain was founded in 1888.

The global outlook for Swiss luxury watches is reminiscent of recent, happier times. Swiss watch exports in the first three months of this year were 10.1 percent higher than a year earlier — the fastest quarterly growth rate since 2012, according to the Swiss watch federation. But the prosperous mood does not disguise the industry’s challenges. When the Apple Watch was launched three years ago, the worry was whether smart devices would replace mechanical Swiss timepieces as a must-have wrist accessory. Today’s Bahnhofstrasse includes an Apple store.

The tech company’s business model, based increasingly on selling through its own stores and online, highlights a different weakness of Swiss watchmaking: Its heavy reliance on a distribution model of selling via third-party retailers and bricks-and-mortar stores. Some 90 percent of Swiss watch sales by value are still made via third-party retailers, according to Morgan Stanley — much higher than in other luxury sectors such as jewelery and leather goods, where the equivalent figures are roughly 30 percent and 40 percent.


Through Garmin, A Glimpse into the Future of Wearables

Sports Innovation Lab from

Quantified Athlete technologies that augment traditional coach-athlete dynamics will also need to help athletes who are training without a coach. The situation asks a lot of the technology, especially at the interface. There are user interfaces that connect people to tech and programming interfaces that transfer data between machines. There is, simply put, a lot going on.

Paradox of Choice, And The Challenge of Product Design

The path to disruptive athlete training technologies is a balancing act. The reason is the “Paradox of Choice,” from Barry Schwarz’ 2004 book title, “The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less.” The paradox is a factor in human-computer interaction design. It comes into play when user interfaces risk having too few choices, to the point where users don’t get sufficient customization, and also risk having too many choices, to the point where the work exceeds users’ tolerance.


Suunto 3 Fitness Review: Attractive and Versatile

WIRED, Gear, Adrienne So from

The outdoor industry has a little millennial problem. It shows up even in the terminology. As recently as ten years ago, you didn’t like climbing. You were a climber. You were part of an intensely tribal subculture, and you had the chops, and the highly technical gear, to prove it.

But advances in materials science and general awareness have made it easier and more affordable than ever to get outside. Outdoor gear is now a little cheaper, and a lot more versatile. If you like climbing, have you tried surfing? What about skiing, hiking, or mountain biking? Whatever you do, do it with friends, and hopefully while wearing the same watch, jacket and shoes.

Fitness wearables have been slow to accommodate people like me, who do a lot of different activities. The Fitbit Versa caters to people who are trying to improve their overall fitness, but functionality for multiple sports is low. The Garmin Fenix series is a magnificent unicorn made of sunlight and dreams disguised as a multisport watch, but it’s also prohibitively expensive.



How to be a triathlete on Strava

Triathlon Magazine Canada, Cam Mitchell from

List of do’s and don’ts adopted from Jesse Thomas and his blog post on Strava Stories.

Strava! Runners and cyclists alike love this app. It is the ‘Facebook’ for healthy active living and getting outdoors. Its become so popular that it has evolved to be a great platform to share workouts and races. The app has also got a lot of traction from professional athletes. But what about triathletes? We swim, bike and run! Yes, we are on Strava too. With Strava you are able to manually or automatically sync your GPS watches/computers and share your swims, bikes and runs. And yes some of the top pros are on Strava too!



New Implanted Glucose Monitor

Tufts Nutrition Letter, NewsBites from

A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory committee unanimously recommended approval of a new type of implantable glucose monitoring device that can be left in place much longer than previous types. The new sensor is a cylinder measuring about 3/4-inch long and 1/8-inch wide. It’s inserted just under the skin on the upper arm under local anesthesia.

Sensors currently available typically last only 3 to 10 days. The new device can remain in place for up to 90 days, transmitting real-time blood sugar levels to a smartphone app via a tiny transmitter in an adhesive skin patch above the implanted sensor. The device also issues alerts when a person’s blood sugar gets dangerously high or low.



Germans Tristan Brümmer and Erik Dimter develop protein beer called JoyBräu

Business Insider Deutschland, Nathalie Gaulhiac from

  • Two Germans, working with Berlin Technical University (TU Berlin), have innovated a new beer to replace protein shakes.
  • The beverage is vegan, alcohol-free, contains 21 grams of protein, 10 grams of amino acids and more nutrients essential for building muscle.
  • It has a citrusy flavour, a bitter aftertaste and is slightly reminiscent of an apple spritzer or cider.

    Get Treatment Anywhere and Any Time with Wearable PBM Patch

    KAIST, Research from

    There have been many cases in which OLEDs are applied to electronic devices, and now they have even been extended to therapeutic fields. A KAIST research team succeeded in developing a wearable photobiomodulation (PBM) patch to treat wounds. This technology will allow injuries to be treated regardless of location or time.

    Professor KyungCheol Choi from the School of Electrical Engineering, in collaboration with Seoul National University Bundang Hospital’s team, conducted research on PBMs which are a clinical method widely used in hospitals. They are considered to be a safe, noninvasive, and nonsurgical method that require relatively low light power.

    Conventionally, light-emitting diodes (LEDs) have been used in PBM applications; however, LED devices are usually inflexible and difficult to irradiate light uniformly. They may also produce localized heat. Due to these constraints, it was difficult to enhance the clinical effects of LED devices as they cannot stick to the human body.

    Choi’s team developed a wearable patch using flexible OLEDs, allowing people to be treated outside of hospitals. A thin film has been developed for the patch, containing not only flexible OLEDs but also batteries and anti-superheating devices.


    Battery-in-screen paves way to ultra-thin smartphones

    Printed Electronics World from

    Scientists in Hong Kong and China have combined a semi-transparent arrangement of anodes and cathodes with a transparent electrolyte to make the first ever photoluminescent microbattery that can simultaneously act as a power supply and a full-colour display. For more information see the IDTechEx reports on flexible, printed and thin film batteries and quantum dots.

    The microbattery, developed by Chunyi Zhi from the City University of Hong Kong and his colleagues, works just like a conventional alkaline battery – redox reactions happen at the positive and negative electrodes, and ions diffuse through an electrolyte to provide electrical energy. Zhi’s microbattery, however, is a flat, sandwich-like arrangement of positive and negative electrodes, deposited on a transparent polymer surface with a transparent electrolyte filling.



    Top Marathoners Swear By This High-Carb Drink—Even Without Endorsement Deals

    Runner's World, Amby Burfoot from

    If the right sports drink is key to great marathon performances, a little-known Swedish product named Maurten is on a roll. The endurance beverage, recently launched in the U.S., has been used by Eliud Kipchoge in his last three (all victorious) marathons, including his epic 2:00:25 in the Nike Breaking2 event a year ago.

    Kipchoge isn’t alone. Kenenisa Bekele drank Maurten while running the second-fastest record-eligible marathon in history, 2:03:03, at Berlin in 2016. Maurten was also used by Desiree Linden in her recent Boston Marathon victory, and by Galen Rupp when he ran 2:06:07 to win the Prague Marathon and become the second-fastest American ever earlier this month. Rupp likewise drank Maurten en route to his Chicago Marathon victory in 2:09:20 last October. There, he covered the last five miles at 1:59 marathon pace.


    For Des Linden, Lauren Fleshman and Jax Mariash, careers in running come with side businesses

    espnW, Amanda Loudin from

    Des Linden won the Boston Marathon on April 16, the pinnacle of her already impressive running career. And while she’s still a long way from retirement, she already has her next venture launched: linden & true coffee. Similarly, recently retired elite runner Lauren Fleshman manages her Picky Bars business, coaching, a partnership with clothing maker Oiselle and a twice-yearly running retreat. Professional trail runner Jax Mariash juggles her racing career with her passion for coffee as the owner of STOKED Roasters + Coffeehouse.

    Des Linden’s victory in April in Boston was a career high point, yet she’s already thinking of her next move outside of running.

    It might seem as though these elites have their hands full — and they certainly do — but the bottom line is that the careers of professional runners are short, and the smart ones have the next step lined up. If they’re lucky, they’ve carved out a second passion beyond running and figured out a way to make a go of it, as these women have.

    Each of them is at a different stage in their running careers and came to their side gigs via varying methods. But one thing is clear: The same skill set that allowed them to become elite runners translates well to entrepreneurship.



    What I’ve learned: Greg LeMond

    CyclingTips, Shane Stokes from

    … LeMond has also earned the reputation of being someone with a strong character, who will speak out against doping and rock the boat where he feels it is necessary. He stood up to Lance Armstrong and endured years of derision for doing so, as well as seeing his bike brand being dropped by the Trek company. Armstrong finally admitted that he had doped for much of his career.

    Now 56 years of age, LeMond shares his life lessons with CyclingTips. In this latest edition of our What I’ve Learned series, he talks about his background, his experiences with former teammates Bernard Hinault and Laurent Fignon, the 1987 hunting accident which almost killed him, his anti-doping stance, the importance of compassion and the value of perseverance.



    Revisiting 60-s HRV recordings vs. Criterion in athletes

    HRVtraining, Andrew Flatt from

    I’ve recently had the pleasure of peer-reviewing a few very well-written and carried out studies investigating duration requirements for stabilization preceding HRV recordings by different research groups. I look forward to seeing the published versions as the quality of the papers was very high.

    In reviewing these papers it prompted me to reconsider what we all have been using as the criterion period. My colleagues and I have published 5 papers using a 5-min R-R sample preceded by a 5-min ‘stabilization’ period (10 min total duration) as the criterion (as has other groups), which is in line with traditional procedures. But I think we failed to address an important limitation of these procedures…


    HIPAA and Protecting Health Information in the 21st Century

    JAMA, The JAMA Network, Viewpoint; Glenn Cohen and Michelle M. Mello from

    … For all its promise, the big data era carries with it substantial concerns and potential threats. Part of what enables individuals to live full lives is the knowledge that certain personal information is not on view unless that person decides to share it, but that supposition is becoming illusory. The increasing availability and exchange of health-related information will support advances in health care and public health but will also facilitate invasive marketing and discriminatory practices that evade current antidiscrimination laws.2 As the recent scandal involving Facebook and Cambridge Analytica shows, a further risk is that private information may be used in ways that have not been authorized and may be considered objectionable. Reinforcing such concerns is the stunning report that Facebook has been approaching health care organizations to try to obtain deidentified patient data to link those data to individual Facebook users using “hashing” techniques.3

    Given these concerns, it is timely to reexamine the adequacy of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the nation’s most important legal safeguard against unauthorized disclosure and use of health information. Is HIPAA up to the task of protecting health information in the 21st century?


    The surprising science behind why ‘easy days’ and ‘hard days’ make a difference in your workout

    The Globe and Mail, Alex Hutchinson from

    Stephen Seiler’s awakening occurred shortly after he moved to Norway in the late 1990s. The American-born exercise physiologist was out on a forested trail when he saw one of the country’s elite cross-country skiers run past – and then suddenly stop at the bottom of a hill and start walking up.

    “And I said, well what the heck are you doing? No pain, no gain!” he later recalled. “But it turned out she had a very clear idea of what she was doing.”

    Seiler’s observation led him to devote 15 years to studying how world-beating endurance athletes train, revealing that they push harder on their hard days but go easier on their easy days than lesser athletes. But, as research that will be presented this week at the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) conference in Minnesota reveals, most us haven’t incorporated these findings into our exercise programs – which means we’re not training as effectively as we should.


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