Outdoors + Tech newsletter – September 2, 2019

Outdoors + Tech news articles, blog posts and research papers for September 2, 2019



Apple Watch sleep tracking revealed: sleep quality, battery, more

9to5Mac, Guilherme Rambo from

There’s been a lot of speculation about Apple Watch sleep tracking, especially after Apple acquired Beddit, manufacturer of the Beddit Sleep Monitor product and companion app.

Today, 9to5Mac has learned from sources inside Apple that the company is working on sleep tracking for the Apple Watch, which won’t require any special hardware to work. The new feature could be announced as early as next week when the company is expected to announce the next generation iPhones and possibly a revised Apple Watch with titanium and ceramic options.


Fitbit unveils data-driven personal health subscription, Fitbit Premium

MobiHealthNews, Dave Muoio from

Fitbit pulled back the curtain on its fall launch lineup this morning, revealing a major new subscription health service called Fitbit Premium right alongside the latest versions of its tried and true consumer hardware products: the Fitbit Versa 2 smartwatch and Fitbit Aria Air Bluetooth scale.


Garmin Fenix 6 Series In-Depth Review

Ray Maker, DC Rainmaker blog from

… The Fenix 6 series follows in the footsteps of the Forerunner 945 & MARQ series watches from a sports standpoint. That means you’re gaining all the new physio-specific features largely based on FirstBeat work. This includes bits like altitude & temperature acclimation, but also the new training load focus and recovery bits. We’ll dive into more of that later. First we’ll cover some quick basics for those of you new to Garmin, and then I’ll show you how the new PacePro works on a real course, plus all the training load and recovery fun.


non-wrist wearable

Wireless sensors stick to skin and track health

Stanford University, Stanford News from

Stanford engineers have developed a way to detect physiological signals emanating from the skin with sensors that stick like band-aids and beam wireless readings to a receiver clipped onto clothing.

To demonstrate this wearable technology, the researchers stuck sensors to the wrist and abdomen of one test subject to monitor the person’s pulse and respiration by detecting how their skin stretched and contracted with each heartbeat or breath. Likewise, stickers on the person’s elbows and knees tracked arm and leg motions by gauging the minute tightening or relaxation of the skin each time the corresponding muscle flexed.

Zhenan Bao, the chemical engineering professor whose lab described the system in an Aug. 15 article in Nature Electronics, thinks this wearable technology, which they call BodyNet, will first be used in medical settings such as monitoring patients with sleep disorders or heart conditions


If medical wearables want to save lives, they should be ‘invisible’

The Next Web, Marc Fischer from

… The actual problem is that, frankly, it’s difficult to create a usable, effective product that’s comfortable to wear and stylish enough not to feel self-conscious about.

I’ve seen plenty of wearables fail because they didn’t include one or more of these essential elements, both in consumer markets and the medical community. Whether it’s fitness devices that cause rashes, augmented reality glasses that earn wearers a rather unfortunate nickname, or skin patches that either fall off too easily or cause serious irritation, the world of wearables is littered with products that almost hit the mark but ultimately aren’t up to snuff.

These devices are seen and heard and felt — and not in the way you want. They’re also great examples of why invisibility is so important in the design of medical wearables. If the technology is going to impact its users, it has to be as inconspicuous as possible.



This Bluetooth security flaw affects tons of devices

Futurity, Boston University from

David Starobinski and Johannes Becker, researchers from Boston University, uncovered that popular Bluetooth devices including iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, and FitBits—and workplace essentials including MacBooks and Microsoft tablets and laptops—have a flaw that exposes device users to the risk of being tracked by unwanted adversaries.

In this Q&A, the researchers share how Bluetooth devices can be tracked, the implications of this discovery, and best-practices for protection.


Why Nestlé just bought a personalized vitamin startup in Washington state

GeekWire, James Thorne from

… Nestlé Health Science this month acquired Snoqualmie, Wash.-based Persona Nutrition, a startup that customizes daily supplement regimens using algorithms designed with the help of doctors and nutritionists.

The deal gives Nestlé Health Science the technology to make sense of the “confusing, cluttered marketplace” of nutrition, said Jason Brown, co-founder and CEO of Persona. “They see the tipping point of real information coming across your phone that is all about you and can enhance your personal life.”


How to make sure your fitness trackers are secure

The Verge, Curtis Franklin from

It’s safe to say that few technologies have changed personal fitness more than wearable fitness trackers. These devices collect data to provide in-depth tracking of many different exercise parameters for coaching, analysis, record-keeping, and other purposes. But with all that data, how can you be sure your privacy won’t go flying out the window?

What data is being collected?

The first key to securing data from a tracking device is understanding precisely what is in that data. The capabilities of wrist-worn trackers vary widely, from simply counting steps and measuring basic activity to tracking advanced human performance data like VO2 max (maximal oxygen uptake) and time spent in specific heart rate zones.



Tiny biodegradable circuits for releasing painkillers inside the body

EPFL, News from

Patients fitted with an orthopedic prosthetic commonly experience a period of intense pain after surgery. In an effort to control the pain, surgeons inject painkillers into the tissue during the operation. When that wears off a day or two later, the patients are given morphine through a catheter placed near the spine. Yet catheters are not particularly comfortable, and the drugs spread throughout the body, affecting all organs.

Researchers in EPFL’s Microsystems Laboratory at the School of Engineering are now working on a biodegradable implant that would release a local anesthetic on-demand over several days. Not only would this implant reduce patients’ post-op discomfort, but there would be no need for further surgery to remove it. They developed a tiny biodegradable electronic circuit, made from magnesium, that could be heated wirelessly from outside the body.


How Exoskeletons Will Change the Way We Run

PodiumRunner, Erin Beresini from

Greg Sawicki is an associate professor of automation and mechatronics at Georgia Tech. His work focuses on robotic lower-limb exoskeletons designed to augment human locomotion. In other words, he’s trying to make it easier to walk and run with the help of, say, an external Achilles tendon. He dreams of breaking three hours in the marathon someday—aided by one of his own inventions—and that is why he’s stoked on an announcement from fellow researchers that may help bring his dream into reality sooner than he thought possible.

Last October, a team of Iranian biomedical engineers published a study in the IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering, a journal published by the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. In the study, they detailed the creation of a device that makes it easier to reverse the direction of the legs when running, reducing the metabolic rate required to run by 8 percent. Until this invention, powered exoskeletons had only achieved a metabolic rate reduction of just over 5 percent, and shoes about 4 percent.


YES! Wahoo computers now compatible with Garmin’s Varia radar lights

road.cc, David Arthur from

Wahoo has issued a few updates for its Elemnt GPS bike computers but it’s the compatibility with Garmin’s Varia radar lights that most interests us. We know it’s something a lot of you have been asking for, Wahoo has clearly been listening.



The 11 Best Water Bottles for Athletes to Stay Hydrated

Men's Journal, Jon Langston from

Are you drinking enough water? Studies say 75 percent of Americans don’t. Not drinking enough causing headaches, weight gain, joint pain, high blood pressure, and kidney disease. And it ages us! Dehydration increases wrinkles and causes skin issues. If you want to look and perform your best, you’ve got to drink about 64 ounces of water a day. One of the best ways to accomplish that is to carry a water bottle with you wherever you go. Around the house, to work, out for the evening—and especially at the gym. What are the best water bottles for athletes? We chose the Cacktaki Sports Water bottle as our Best Overall Water Bottle for Athletes.


Rise of the Super Shoes

PodiumRunner, Brian Metzler from

New materials and new designs have produced demonstrably faster racing shoes with bouncy foams and propulsion plates. Every brand is now getting in the super shoe game.


Yes, You Need Technical Underwear. Here’s Why.

REI Co-op Journal, Heather Hansman from

… Undies seem so simple. They’re small, barely noticeable. But the layer closest to your skin bears some attention, especially if you’re spending a long time—and sweating a lot—in the same pair. In picking out the right underwear for active pursuits, consider these important factors and features.



Mikaela Shiffrin talks gender equality and cycling vs. skiing

Endurance Sports Wire from

Besides their legs of steel, pro cyclists and pro skiers have more in common than you’d think, as noted by the world’s best skier: Olympic and World Champion Mikaela Shiffrin.

Before the 2019 Colorado Classic® presented by VF Corporation rolled onto Shiffrin’s home turf in Avon for Stage 2 presented by FirstBank, the 24-year-old local hero welcomed the race by discussing a few of the similarities shared between ski racing and road cycling during a chat with VF Corporation’s Anita Graham on Thursday night.

“There are a lot more similarities than people realize,” Shiffrin said. “First of all, you have the speed and feeling the wind in your face. The actual movement, the push-pull that your legs and feet do in biking is a very similar movement to skiing. Biking is more of a linear sport … you add more of a three dimensional quality to it and you basically have a ski turn.”


‘Free Solo’: Alex Honnold’s Climb Is Not a Life Lesson

The Atlantic, Ian Bogost from

… When it comes to free-solo rock climbing, if you can’t do the physical part, the rest doesn’t matter, Honnold said. No amount of mental gymnastics can overcome the cold, hard fact that you might be too short to reach a crimp from a particular stance. Honnold mentioned that one of his teammates on the North Face climbing team has particularly impressive finger strength, which Honnold said he lacks. That added strength can make some maneuvers easier, or even simply possible.

Among those of us without the ability and inclination to press our particular physical form to its maximum potential, there is a tendency to see athletes such as Honnold as allegories for possible versions of ourselves. If someone can press himself through training, exertion, and dedication to complete a previously unimaginable feat, such as ascending El Capitan’s 3,000-foot granite face alone, without ropes, then what can an ordinary person like me do? How can the lessons of a world-class rock climber help make one a better spouse, or a better public speaker, or a better insurance actuary?


Alex Honnold Answers Rock Climbing Questions From Twitter

YouTube, WIRED from

Alex Honnold uses the power of Twitter to answer common questions about climbing. What’s Alex’s favorite type of climbing hold? Do all rock climbers live in vans? Once you get to the top, how do you get back down? Alex answers all these questions, and more! [video, 10:35]



Updated: Feds Open All National Park Bike Trails to E-Bikes

Adventure Journal from

… The new policy requires public lands managers to develop proposed new rules allowing e-bikes on all trails where bikes are allowed within their jurisdiction within two weeks. Though this rule change was ordered without public input, the order asks lands managers to come up with a timeline for seeking public comment about the rule change within the next 30 days. Conservation groups immediately decried Bernhardt’s decision.


Use Strava to find out how many unique miles you’ve ridden

CyclingTips, Caley Fretz from

Ever wonder how many unique miles (or kilometres) you’ve ridden? Curious how adventurous you really are, compared to your friends? There’s an app for that.

Well, not really an app. The website Wandrer.earth pulls your Strava data and then analyzes all your rides, figures out which sections of road you’ve ridden before, and then pushes out a “new miles” number. That’s the number of unique miles you’ve ridden this month, this year, and ever. Not a total distance, but a total distance on new roads.


Bontrager’s New WaveCel Bests MIPS at Concussion Prevention

Peloton Magazine from

We hear lots of noise about ‘revolutionary’ new products in cycling. They are essentially never revolutionary, and frequently aren’t even new. But when Trek starts teasing a new product with the tag, “A change like this happens once every 30 years,” we’re pretty sure it’s a big deal. Speculation started. Was the lime green material teased a new frame material? Trek launched OCLV carbon about 30 years ago. But the biggest clue was that Bontrager touted the material as well, and it did look a bit like the Koroyd material used in Smith helmets. Now we know. Bontrager is incorporating a new material called WaveCel into its helmets which it claims is 48x more effective than EPS foam at preventing concussions during unplanned dismounts.



Tweets show how different U.S. regions like to exercise

Futurity, Boston University from

Researchers used machine learning to find and comb through exercise-related tweets from across the United States, unpacking regional and gender differences in exercise types and intensity levels. By analyzing the language of the tweets, this method was also able to show how different populations feel about different kinds of exercise.

“In most cases, lower-income communities tend to lack access to resources that encourage a healthy lifestyle,” says Elaine Nsoesie, an assistant professor of global health at the School of Public Health at Boston University and a data science faculty fellow at the Rafik B. Hariri Institute for Computing & Computational Science.

“By understanding differences in how people are exercising across different communities, we can design interventions that target the specific needs of those communities,” she says.


Special Environments: Altitude and Heat

International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism from

Athletes in the sport of track and field are often faced with training or competing in challenging environmental conditions. The 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships (Doha, Qatar) and the 2020 Olympic Games (Tokyo, Japan) are anticipated to have the highest heat index in the history of those respective events. The IAAF World Cross Country Championships in 2015 (Guiyang, China; elevation 1,275 m) and 2017 (Kampala, Uganda; elevation 1,210 m) were held at altitudes high enough to significantly impair aerobic performance. In the consensus statement, we will briefly discuss the physiological effects that the environments of heat/humidity and altitude have on track-and-field performance and how athletes and coaches can utilize altered environmental conditions to acclimatize and best prepare. With that background in hand, we will share recommendations on specific nutritional interventions that can be utilized to help optimize performance (both in training and competition) in the adverse environmental conditions of thermal load and altitude.


public lands

A step too far for the Appalachian Trail

POLITICO, Jonathan Jarvis from

Dominion Energy wants to run a massive pipeline across America’s treasured Appalachian National Scenic Trail and some of the least developed wildlands remaining in the East. This isn’t just a bad idea, it’s an unprecedented one. Dominion, the Virginia-based power giant that serves customers in 18 states, wants to do something that has never been done in the half century since the iconic hiking path was enshrined in law: force a pipeline across the Appalachian Trail on federal land managed by the Forest Service.

To get its way, the company must persuade lawmakers to overturn a federal court decision and change a law that has protected important parts of the trail for almost 50 years. Congress should say no.


4.8 million sockeye salmon were expected at B.C.’s Fraser River — just 628,000 showed up

The Star (Vancouver, BC), Jen St. Denis and Ainslie CruickshankS from

Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinson announced a further $2.7 million investment in salmon conservation projects, after government officials confirmed Thursday morning that salmon stocks across British Columbia are returning in concerningly low numbers.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada, also known as DFO, had previously forecast that 4,795,000 sockeye salmon would return to the Fraser River this year.

As the run starts, that number has been adjusted to 628,000 — just 13 per cent of that original forecast. The state of sockeye salmon is now so dire that some populations “face an imminent threat of extinction,” according to DFO.



Coherent virtual absorption of elastodynamic waves

Science Advances; G. Trainiti, Y. Ra'di, M. Ruzzene and A. Alù from

Absorbers suppress reflection and scattering of an incident wave by dissipating its energy into heat. As material absorption goes to zero, the energy impinging on an object is necessarily transmitted or scattered away. Specific forms of temporal modulation of the impinging signal can suppress wave scattering and transmission in the transient regime, mimicking the response of a perfect absorber without relying on material loss. This virtual absorption can store energy with large efficiency in a lossless material and then release it on demand. Here, we extend this concept to elastodynamics and experimentally show that longitudinal motion can be perfectly absorbed using a lossless elastic cavity. This energy is then released symmetrically or asymmetrically by controlling the relative phase of the impinging signals. Our work opens previously unexplored pathways for elastodynamic wave control and energy storage, which may be translated to other phononic and photonic systems of technological relevance.


Study Identifies Main Culprit Behind Lithium Metal Battery Failure

University of California-San Diego, UC San Diego UC San Diego News Center from

A research team led by the University of California San Diego has discovered the root cause of why lithium metal batteries fail—bits of lithium metal deposits break off from the surface of the anode during discharging and are trapped as “dead” or inactive lithium that the battery can no longer access.

The discovery, published Aug. 21 in Nature, challenges the conventional belief that lithium metal batteries fail because of the growth of a layer, called the solid electrolyte interphase (SEI), between the lithium anode and the electrolyte. The researchers made their discovery by developing a technique to measure the amounts of inactive lithium species on the anode—a first in the field of battery research—and studying their micro- and nanostructures.


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