Outdoors + Tech newsletter – August 27, 2018

Outdoors + Tech news articles, blog posts and research papers for August 27, 2018



Fitbit Charge 3 vs. Fitbit Versa: Which One Is Worth It?

Digital Trends, Brenda Stolyar from

Fitbit recently launched the latest addition to its fitness tracker lineup — the Fitbit Charge 3. While the Charge 3 is a fitness tracker, it comes packed with smartwatch capabilities. It also comes only a few months after the company released the Fitbit Versa — which acts more like a smartwatch than any of Fitbit’s other wearables on the market.


The Galaxy Watch Can Improve Wellness, Not Just Fitness, Samsung Says

Digital Trends, Jeremy Kaplan from

… “A lot of consumers are creating space for health and wellness in their actual physical homes, and we feel like this device can be a central part of that. Whether you’re in front of the TV practicing yoga at the end of a very long day to unwind, or you take it for your pace out on a run down by the river, the device is meant to go with you wherever you are.”

But wearables can do more than just fitness. After all, an Apple Watch saved a woman’s life recently. And the Galaxy Watch really doubles down on overall health, Cotton explains.

“A lot of studies are being published on mindfulness right now. So the idea is that a watch can help you detect and manage your stress levels, offer you some immediate solutions to help manage that, and hopefully develop really healthy routines over time to be able to improve your quality of life.”


Apple Watch Series 4 will benefit from pent-up premium wearable demand

VentureBeat, Jeremy Horwitz from

… I think we’re about to see an unexpected spike in sales of mid-range, stainless steel Apple Watches. The reason: Demand has been building for premium wearables, and many people are just waiting for the right device to jump in.


non-wrist wearable

New Device Allows for Real-Time In-Home Patient Monitoring and is FDA Cleared

Journal of Emergency Medical Services, VitalConnect from

VitalConnect, Inc., a leader in wearable biosensor technology for wireless monitoring, today announced the launch of VistaTabletTM, which ushers in the next-generation of its Vista SolutionTMplatform for real-time patient monitoring. VitalConnect is the leading digital health patient monitoring company with U.S. FDA clearance for both hospital and in-home solutions. The mobile interface of the VistaTablet offers healthcare providers and patients unprecedented access to vital sign data continuously acquired by the VitalPatch® wearable biosensor regardless of patient location. The VitalPatch biosensor is the smallest and lightest FDA-cleared Class 2 medical device that measures eight vital signs in real-time.

The VistaTablet is a handheld mobile relay device that securely hosts and transmits the vital signs measured by the VitalPatch biosensor, presenting this data locally for the patient and to healthcare providers through the Vista Solution platform. The mobility of the VistaTablet supports timely remote analysis by caregivers for patients regardless if they are in the hospital or at home. The Vista Solution platform allows physiological data for all patients to be easily accessible through the accompanying cloud-based application or viewed directly on the VistaTablet.


When Data Quality meets Context, Health Wearables Find Their Power

insideBIGDATA, Jiang Li from

The divide between consumer health and fitness wearables, and medical-grade devices is slowly being bridged as technology evolves to offer advanced sensors and form factors that combine the best of two worlds. The result is vast amounts of higher quality data to feed the complex algorithms which not only deliver the personalized results so often discussed in the industry, but the ability to even preempt negative health events.



Strava and MINDBODY partnership ‘connects 5 million+ classes and workouts’

Endurance Business, Gary Roethenbaugh from

Strava, the social network for athletes, has announced its newest Gym & Studio Sync partner, MINDBODY, ‘the world’s leading booking platform for fitness classes’.

Through Strava’s Gym and Studio Sync program, athletes can track and quantify more types of workouts on Strava alongside their runs, rides and swims. This latest partnership allows Strava athletes to share their participation in any of the 5.2 million fitness classes and wellness services offered daily via the MINDBODY app and MINDBODY branded apps and websites.

‘Enabling athletes to discover new classes through friends’ activities turns the Strava feed into a recommendation engine for the best workouts and fitness classes in any locale.’


Wildfire Safety: Mapping Apps Help Monitor, Track Fallout

Gear Junkie, Marty Grabijas from

Two mapping apps are helping tourists and impacted residents deal with the effects of increasingly large and frequent wildfires.


Is Google planning a wellness revolution with a wearable AI fitness coach?

Sports Management magazine (UK), Tom Walker from

The fitness sector could soon have a huge disruptor on its hands, if rumours of Google’s plans prove correct.

A number of unconfirmed reports suggest that the tech giant is working on an artificial intelligence-based fitness and wellbeing coach.

If true, the new service would have a head start in providing personalised wellness services – simply due to the data it holds for a huge number of people who already use its services, from gmail and search histories to a plethora of other products.

It is understood that the new “Google Coach” wellness service would be able to compile users’ personal data to recommend workout routines, meal plans and other wellness-related advice.



‘Building up’ stretchable electronics to be as multipurpose as your smartphone

UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering from

By stacking and connecting layers of stretchable circuits on top of one another, engineers have developed an approach to build soft, pliable “3D stretchable electronics” that can pack a lot of functions while staying thin and small in size. The work is published in the Aug. 13 issue of Nature Electronics.

As a proof of concept, a team led by the University of California San Diego has built a stretchable electronic patch that can be worn on the skin like a bandage and used to wirelessly monitor a variety of physical and electrical signals, from respiration, to body motion, to temperature, to eye movement, to heart and brain activity. The device, which is as small and thick as a U.S. dollar coin, can also be used to wirelessly control a robotic arm.



Vollebak Launches World’s First Graphene Jacket

Gear Junkie, Rick Stella from

… At its core, the Graphene Jacket is like many other high-quality rain jackets you can buy. It protects against water and wind with its reversible design that boasts breathability, fully taped seams, and an adjustable drawcord to bring in the waist. There are even two reversible, laser-cut pockets to keep your hands dry.


extraordinary response to this on Facebook. It is evident that most were not able to read the banner headline “The EVIDENCE BASE for technology in running shoes”.many took it an endorsement of barefoot running and retailers just took offence.

Twitter, Simon Bartold from



A paper battery powered by bacteria

American Chemical Society, News Releases from

In remote areas of the world or in regions with limited resources, everyday items like electrical outlets and batteries are luxuries. Health care workers in these areas often lack electricity to power diagnostic devices, and commercial batteries may be unavailable or too expensive. New power sources are needed that are low-cost and portable. Today, researchers report a new type of battery –- made of paper and fueled by bacteria — that could overcome these challenges.

The researchers will present their results today at the 256th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS). ACS, the world’s largest scientific society, is holding the meeting here through Thursday. It features more than 10,000 presentations on a wide range of science topics.

“Paper has unique advantages as a material for biosensors,” says Seokheun (Sean) Choi, Ph.D., who is presenting the work at the meeting. “It is inexpensive, disposable, flexible and has a high surface area. However, sophisticated sensors require a power supply. Commercial batteries are too wasteful and expensive, and they can’t be integrated into paper substrates. The best solution is a paper-based bio-battery.”


TexDel Partners With AFFOA To Accelerate Development Of Medicine Delivering Fabrics

Textile World from

Textile-Based Delivery Inc. (TexDel), a biomaterials platform technology company, today announced it has received a $1 million award from Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA), a private-public partnership established through the Department of Defense. The award supports the manufacturing scale up of TexDel’s patented technology for controlled delivery of active ingredients via textiles.
Founded by Jordan Schindler, TexDel is based at Conover, N.C.-based Catawba Valley Community College’s Manufacturing Solutions Center. TexDel’s patented smart-textile platform called Nufabrx® puts active ingredients (vitamins, supplements, medicines) into fabric, which can be programmed for controlled release to the skin. Active ingredients remain effective after multiple washings.


University of Virginia Multidisciplinary Engineering Team Designs New Technology for Smart Materials

University of Virginia, Engineering from

University of Virginia mechanical engineers and materials scientists, in collaboration with materials scientists at Penn State, the University of Maryland and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, have invented a “switching effect” for thermal conductivity and mechanical properties that can be incorporated into the fabrication of materials including textiles and garments.

Using heat transport principles combined with a biopolymer inspired by squid ring teeth, the team studied a material that can dynamically regulate its thermal properties – switching back and forth between insulating and cooling – based on the amount of water that is present.

The invention holds great promise for all sorts of new devices and materials with the ability to regulate temperature and heat flow on demand, including the “smart” fabrics.



REI extends used gear digital platform

Innovations in Textiles blog from

REI Co-op, a US based specialty outdoor retailer, is reaffirming its commitment to sustainable, affordable pre-loved gear for customers, with a refreshed used gear website featuring new brands and more product categories available for purchase. The platform also offers a series of member-to-member gear swaps and a team of employees dedicated to getting lightly used products in the hands of more customers.

“At REI, we believe a life outdoors is a life well-lived, but we know that the cost of brand-new gear can be a barrier to access,” commented Peter Whitcomb, REI’s Director of Strategy and leader of the co-op’s used gear efforts. “We launched Used Gear Beta online last year with the belief that we could help get more people outside by finding new homes for pre-loved gear and apparel.”

On average, products from REI.com/used can be purchased for up to 65% less than buying the same products new, helping more people get the gear they need to enjoy a life outdoors. “In its first 10 months, the beta test has been successful beyond all expectation, which tells us there is an inherent appetite for high-quality, lightly used product at lower price points,” said Whitcomb.


Defining the Upper Limits of Fitness

Outside Online, Alex Hutchinson from

… For aerobic power, tales of super-high VO2max values have floated around for decades. For example, the mantle of VO2max champion was long granted to Norwegian cross-country skier Bjørn Dæhlie, a 12-time Olympic medalist who reportedly notched a reading of 96 ml/kg/min in the 1990s. When I was researching my recent book, Endure, I got in touch with Stephen Seiler, an American-born sports scientist who has worked in Norway since 1997. He had inspected the data from that test and suspected a calibration problem, in part because the value was 5 points higher than Dæhlie recorded in any other test. That’s a frequent problem with seemingly amazing results: as the new paper points out, most VO2max machines are designed to measure values in hospital patients with abnormally low values, so without special preparation they may not be equipped to handle the prodigious quantities of oxygen that a world-class endurance athlete can breathe.


Ray Mount: “Hiking the Appalachian Trail, Unexpected Challenges and What I […] | Talks at Google

YouTube, Talks at Google from

Ray summited Mt Katahdin on Oct 2 2017, marking the finish of 2200 miles and 6 months hiking the Appalachian Trail. The hike went far beyond the adventure he expected, and put him on an unexpected path of self discovery and growth.



Insights on bike-sharing from Harvard researcher

Harvard Gazette from

The yellow-and-green bicycles of the California bike-sharing startup LimeBike have popped up in more than a dozen Massachusetts communities in recent weeks, the latest fleet to follow in the tracks of Blue Bikes, which launched as Hubway in 2011. Anne Lusk studies bike environments, including safety and crashes, as a researcher at the Harvard Chan School. She’s also a cyclist. We asked her about the progress of bike-sharing systems.


When Cyclists Made Up an Entire Political Bloc

JSTOR Daily, Erin Blakemore from

The League of American Wheelmen was originally intended to spread bicycle appreciation. The 1896 presidential election changed all that.



Project Tesserae Powered by Garmin

Garmin Blog from

Project Tesserae is a multi-university research project involving researchers from the University of Notre Dame, University of California, Irvine, Georgia Tech, Dartmouth College, University of Colorado Boulder, University of Washington, University of Texas at Austin and The Ohio State University. The project is an extensive $7.9 million, 21-month study focused on working professionals in cognitively demanding, high-stress occupations, such as engineers, programmers and managers. The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) is funding the study.

Participants wear a Garmin vívosmart 3 paired with a smartphone application to automatically log metrics such as heart rate, sleep, stress and physical activity. Researchers will combine this data with information gathered from environmental sensors – such as ambient noise, light level and temperature – to model the mental state, behavior and social interaction of diverse cohorts in their workplaces and homes across an entire year.


Machine learning can control tsetse flies

The Economist from

One problem, since breeding males necessarily involves breeding females, too, is sorting the sexes, so that only males are irradiated and released. (Simply irradiating both sexes is problematic; a higher radiation dose is required to sterilise females, for example, which risks killing or disabling the males.) To sort the tsetses means waiting until the flies emerge from their pupae, chilling them to reduce their metabolic rates and therefore their activity, and then separating males from females by hand, with a paint brush. Male flies can be identified by external claspers that make them distinguishable from clasperless females. This process is effective, but time-consuming and labour-intensive. Zelda Moran, of Columbia University, thinks she has a better way.

In 2014 Ms Moran, who was then a researcher at the entomological laboratory of the International Atomic Energy Agency, in Vienna, which does a lot of this work, noticed that female and male tsetse pupae develop differently. Adult flies emerge from their pupae 30 days after pupation. Although tsetse-fly pupal cases are opaque, Ms Moran found that in certain lighting conditions, such as infrared, it was possible to observe that the insects’ wings began to darken beforehand. In the case of females, this happens around 25-26 days after pupation. In the case of males it happens later: 27-29 days after pupation. In principle, that gives a way to sort the flies before they emerge from their pupae.


How Body Type May Determine Runners’ and Swimmers’ Destinies

The New York Times, Gretchen Reynolds from

… Swimmers, though, somehow seem to escape that endurance/speed/size trade-off, according to a new study published in July in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, which for the first time closely examines the morphology of a large group of world-class swimmers and runners. Its findings provide evidence that while there is a body type associated with success in each sport’s various distances, in swimming that body type is consistently the same.

For the research, three anthropologists with an interest in human physical performance gathered publicly available biometric data about the male and female swimmers and runners at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London. The information included each athlete’s height, weight and competitive events. (The researchers focused on freestyle swimming races, for the sake of simplicity.) The scientists used that info to calculate each athlete’s body mass index; differences between the B.M.I.s presumably would indicate differences in musculature, because competitors at their level do not carry much fat.

The resulting graphs plotting B.M.I.s and events looked quite different by sport. In running, B.M.I.s dropped precipitously as event distances increased. Two-hundred-meter runners were considerably more massive than marathoners. But there was no similar drop among swimmers. Those contesting the 50-meter freestyle shared a similar body mass with those swimming the two-hour, 10,000-meter open-water marathon.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.