Outdoors + Tech newsletter – February 17, 2020

Outdoors + Tech news articles, blog posts and research papers for February 17, 2020



Whoop Strap 3.0 review: A great fitness tracker for high performers and serious exercise fans

CNET, Mercey Livingston from

… what makes the Whoop Strap 3.0 stand out is its reputation with fitness trainers and athletes, including LeBron James. That’s in part because the Whoop Strap 3.0 — the latest iteration of Whoop’s trackers — provides more in-depth health metrics such as heart rate variability (HRV), a feature that few other wearables can do at the moment. It uses your HRV, average resting heart rate and sleep patterns to tell you when to push yourself through a tough workout and when to take a rest day and recover.

Whoop is designed specifically to help you improve your exercise performance, recover better, get more sleep and feel empowered about your health and fitness habits. Here, I test how well it does that and if it’s worth the $30 per month subscription fee.


Duke study: Activity, but not skin tone, can impact wearables’ PPG heart rate accuracy

MobiHealthNews, Dave Muoio from

The new investigation also found substantial differences between the performance of specific devices, with consumer products generally outperforming research wearables.


10,000 Steps A Day May Not Spark Weight Loss After All, Study Says

Study Finds, John Anderer from

Those in search of a slimmer waist, or just interested in maintaining their current weight, have long been advised by health experts to log at least 10,000 steps per day. Reaching that magic number daily is thought of as a real accomplishment for many people, and countless walkers utilize fitness trackers and smart watches to ensure they reach their goal day in and day out. Well, a new study is bringing the 10,000 step theory to a grinding halt. Researchers from Brigham Young University have concluded that no number of simple steps alone are going to prevent weight gain or induce weight loss.

A total of 120 freshman students at BYU were analyzed for this study. The research was conducted during the students’ first six months on campus, and their steps per day were tracked on a daily basis. Participating students walked either 10,000, 12,500 or 15,000 steps every day for six days a week. During the duration of the experiment (24 weeks) the students’ diets and body weights were also tracked.


non-wrist wearable

ActiPatch Now Cleared for “All” Musculoskeletal Pain

Orthopedics This Week, Walter Eisner from

… The device, according to the clearance document, is a pulsed shortwave therapy device. “The circuitry consists of low voltage(3V) digital/analog electronics that control all timing functions to produce the therapeutic radiofrequency(RF) field, where the antenna is placed directly above the therapeutic site. This closed loop system of the antenna, low energy signal generator circuit, and battery power supply, transfers the RF energy to the target tissue as a localized therapy with no far field effects.”

Again, according to the clearance document, the device operates at 27.12MHz shortwave frequency, pulsing at a 1000 pulses per second with a pulse width of 100μsecs. The duty cycle is therefore 10%. The power source is a 3Vbatter (CR2032), producing a peak spatial power density of 73 microWatts/cm2.


Scientists Study Sweat, the Small Stuff

University of Arizona, UA News from

Imagine if you could know the status of any molecule in your body without needing to get your blood drawn. Science fiction? Almost – but researchers at the University of Arizona are working on ways to do this by measuring molecules in sweat.

When physicians take blood samples from patients, they send the samples to labs to be analyzed for biomarkers. These biological clues indicate everything from cholesterol levels to disease risks, and they can be used to monitor patient health or make diagnostic decisions. The same biomarkers also are found in sweat.

Using $519,000 in funding from the SEMI Nano-Bio Materials Consortium, or SEMI-NBMC, Erin Ratcliff, a materials science and engineering professor and head of the UArizona Laboratory for Interface Science of Printable Electronic Materials, is leading a project to develop new ways of collecting and analyzing the clues sweat has to offer. Ultimately, this work could allow physicians to use patient sweat samples in the same way they currently use blood samples, for a less invasive and more informative approach to establishing and monitoring patient health.


Circular Launches Stylish Wellness Smart Ring

Wearable Technologies, Sam Draper from

Circular is a smart ring and wellness wearable that tracks how you respond to your activities, daily choices and body rhythms and offers personalized recommendations to improve your overall lifestyle. The ring is now available on Kickstarter.

Various wearables have hit the market in the past few years. However, many of them are bulky, gadget looking, lack personalization and deliver raw data without telling you how to act upon it. So, the makers of Circular created a smart ring that is “The most advanced wellness smart ring.”



18 Useful Apps for Rock Climbers

Climbing Magazine, Zoe Leibovitch from

Whether you’re looking for a pocket guide to some of the best boulders in the world or an interval timer to assist your hangboard sessions, there’s likely an app for it. We’ve rounded up our favorite climber-friendly apps to help you find crags easier, train more effectively, and more. Read on to see our picks, along with the benefits and drawbacks of each.


Strava hits 50 million athletes and 3 billion activity uploads

EnduranceBusiness.com, Gary Roethenbaugh from

Strava athletes shared more than 1 billion activities in the last 13 months, surpassing 3 billion total activity uploads to the social fitness community since its founding in 2009.

The company adds that more than 50 million athletes have joined Strava, with around 1 million new athletes joining each month. As its global athletic community grows, the pace of activity uploads from Strava members has also accelerated, reaching 19 million uploads per week in 2019.


Skin Monitoring Apps Fail to Detect Melanomas

IEEE Spectrum, Megan Scudellari from

Publicly available skin cancer detection apps, such as SkinVision, use AI-based analysis to determine if a new or changing mole is a source of concern or nothing to worry about. Yet according to a new analysis of the scientific evidence behind those apps, there’s a lot to worry about.

In a study published this week in The BMJ, a team of experts evaluated the science behind six skin cancer detection apps and found it sorely lacking. The apps miss melanomas, the most serious form of skin cancer; produce false positives that could lead to removing harmless moles unnecessarily; are poorly regulated; and users are not informed of the apps’ limitations.



Engineers mix and match materials to make new stretchy electronics

MIT News Office from

At the heart of any electronic device is a cold, hard computer chip, covered in a miniature city of transistors and other semiconducting elements. Because computer chips are rigid, the electronic devices that they power, such as our smartphones, laptops, watches, and televisions, are similarly inflexible.

Now a process developed by MIT engineers may be the key to manufacturing flexible electronics with multiple functionalities in a cost-effective way.

The process is called “remote epitaxy” and involves growing thin films of semiconducting material on a large, thick wafer of the same material, which is covered in an intermediate layer of graphene. Once the researchers grow a semiconducting film, they can peel it away from the graphene-covered wafer and then reuse the wafer, which itself can be expensive depending on the type of material it’s made from. In this way, the team can copy and peel away any number of thin, flexible semiconducting films, using the same underlying wafer.


Wearable Health Tech Gets Efficiency Upgrade

North Carolina State University, News from

North Carolina State University engineers have demonstrated a flexible device that harvests the heat energy from the human body to monitor health. The device surpasses all other flexible harvesters that use body heat as the sole energy source.



Adidas Reveals its ‘Most Advanced and Fastest’ Running Shoe Ever

Footwear News, Peter Verry from

… Adidas loaded the shoe with plenty of tech including a multidirectional Carbitex carbon plate, which is designed to provide flexibility as the runner’s foot touches down, a toe-off that allows for maximum propulsion and an “economically guided stride.” It also features both energy-returning Boost and lightweight LightStrike cushioning materials; the brand’s thinnest mesh material to date, Celermesh, on the upper; and lightweight Quickstrike DSP and durable Continental rubber materials on the compounds.


First Look: New Balance FuelCell TC

Runner's World, Jeff Dengate from

A carbon-fiber plate and thick midsole make it suited for marathons.


Salomon’s Recyclable Running Shoe Concept Earns Innovation Award


Salomon Sports, the global leader in trail running and winter sports equipment, was awarded an Innovation Award at the second annual Outdoor Retailer Innovation Awards for its recyclable running shoe concept. The Outdoor Retailer Innovation Awards recognize achievements in outdoor products, materials and services that are pushing the industry forward. Salomon was honored as a winner amongst 30 finalists for its solution to footwear sustainability that significantly extends the lifecycle of the materials used.


Why paper maps are better than Google Maps, Apple Map, GPS

USA Today Tech, Edward C. Baig from

Even if everything navigation is pointing in the direction of GPS, you’ll never tear some folks away from their paper maps.

In Northern New Jersey, Stephanie Kivett Ohnegian keeps an atlas in her car because “there are places where the GPS signal doesn’t work” or “the routing is ridiculous.”

Out in Portland, Oregon, Kimberly Davis has paper maps in her earthquake “go bag” – just in case.



Understanding Ketones: What does the wonder drink actually do?

Cyclingnews, James Witts from

… “From our research, ketones can improve the performance of Grand Tour riders,” [Peter] Hespel continues.

We ask if Deceuninck are using them at the Tour de France. The answer seems obvious but there’s no confirmation – and with it, Hespel’s raising of the eyebrows encapsulates the mysterious air around the wonder supplement that’s drifted over the peloton for years.

Every Tour, one news organisation or another insinuates that ketones complement energy gels and rice cakes in a rider’s larder; every year, teams refuse to confirm or deny either its use or benefits. It’s carved a reputation as the nutritional omertà, a fuelling Macbeth never uttered by the sporting actors.


The North Face Is Training Designers To Upcycle Old Styles Into New Pieces

Mind Body Green, Abby Moore from

… The work takes place in The North Face’s renewal workshop in Oregon, where designers help reduce the 85% of textiles that end up in landfills every year. According to a news release, those designers are now invited to attend biannual residency programs where they will “learn the principles of circular design and implement them into future brand collections.”

These programs will educate designers on the practical and ethical aspects of product longevity. Designing products to withstand several uses, as well as creatively repurposing overused products, are a couple of actionable ways the team is committing to support the environment. And the result is a limited collection of one-of-a-kind garments.



High foot arches: what they are and how to manage the problems they cause

220 Triathlon, Alex Parford from

Pes Cavus (high foot arches) is an inherited condition in which the foot has a high medial arch. Pes Cavus doesn’t necessarily cause pain, but it does cause you to place more weight and stress on the ball and heel of the foot while standing and walking. It can be difficult to find shoes (especially cycling shoes) that have enough room for a high arch and unfortunately this could lead to plantar fasciitis and metatarsalgia (hot foot).


VO2 max: Everything you need to know

CNET, Amanda Capritto from

If you’re a fitness fiend like any other, you’re probably always looking for ways to run faster and farther, workout harder and push your limits by any means necessary. You might even track a number of fitness markers — heart rate, calories burned, steps walked, etc. — but there’s one marker your fitness watch can’t tell you: Your VO2 max.

VO2 max can give you important insights about your cardiorespiratory fitness, such as how long you can sustain a certain intensity of exercise, which relates to fitness hallmarks like your mile run time. Follow along to learn what exactly VO2 max is, how to measure it and how to improve yours.


Heat Acclimatization – What? Why? How?

HIITScience.com from

Over the next couple of years, two of the world’s largest sporting events are happening in the hottest places on earth. The 2020 Tokyo Olympics are forecast to see temperatures in excess of 33.3oC (92oF) whilst the FIFA World Cup, scheduled to take place in Qatar in 2022, could see temperatures of over 50 oC (120 oF). When sporting events take place in such extreme environments, it is essential that the athletes can handle the heat. But it is not just down to the athletes to get ready to perform – the whole sports performance team, ranging from coaches to physiotherapists, have a role to play.

Getting to grips with heat acclimatization is fundamental to ensuring success when competing in hot climates, such as those found in Tokyo or Qatar. Heat acclimatization or acclimation can be loosely defined as the changes or adaptations that occur in response to heat stress. Heat acclimatization plays an important role in the body’s physical response and overall ability to cope with heat exposure. But it is important that teams know more than just what heat acclimatization is – it is also important to know how to enable an athlete to acclimatize.


What’s the Best Running Cadence? How to Know Your Ideal Step Rate

Jason Fitzgerald, Strength Running blog from

In 2010, my obsession with running form peaked. I started caring about things that I never thought of before, like running cadence, foot strike, and how shoes impacted our form.


Running Surfaces And Speed Influence Your Risk of Injury

Women's Running, Ian McMahan from

… when the trail gets softer, the leg becomes stiffer, leaving the net impact to the leg roughly the same. It’s how the body maintains the overall stiffness of the surface/shoe/leg combination and it’s the reason why running on softer surfaces doesn’t necessarily result in a lower rate of injury. The overall impact to the leg remains virtually the same whether running on trails, a beach or concrete.

But there’s an asterisk. “We know how the body adjusts to different surfaces in the short term, but what we don’t know are the long term consequences of running on a particular surface,” says Dr. Brian Heiderscheit, Director of the University of Wisconsin’s Runners’ Clinic.

Of course, the cushioning of the shoe impacts the equation as well, and could be part of the reason why ultra-cushioned shoes haven’t solved the injury conundrum.



Connecting the dots between climate change and health care

Harvard Gazette from

Boston’s medical establishment is coming together to carry a message to area physicians and other health care workers: Climate change plays a role in many of the illnesses they see each day. A Feb. 13 symposium, “The Climate Crisis and Clinical Practice,” at Harvard Medical School (HMS) aims to help them anticipate those health effects to better treat and advise patients, and to discuss relevant issues with them when appropriate. The symposium is supported by HMS, area teaching hospitals, medical associations, and the New England Journal of Medicine. The Gazette spoke with organizer Renee Salas, an emergency physician, HMS assistant professor of emergency medicine, and climate change and health expert, about the need for the gathering.


MIDS Project ‘FairAir’ Improves Air Pollution Monitoring

Medium, Berkeley School of Information from

Air pollution cuts short 4 million lives every year. Unfortunately, the neighborhoods with the most pollution are also the neighborhoods where the air quality is monitored the least.

MIDS students Ben Arnoldy, Jake Miller, Sameed Musvee, Mark Paluta, and Angshuman Paul set out to change that by creating FairAir, a tool for identifying locations of high air pollution. It uses artificial intelligence to recommend the best places to put new sensors in order to provide air quality data to disadvantaged communities.


What you’re breathing, right now

Yale University, YaleNews from

… Drew Gentner, associate professor of chemical & environmental engineering and forestry & environmental studies, is currently at work on that now with a study that looks at the interiors of homes, workplaces, and vehicles, and out on the streets of Baltimore, Maryland. In collaboration with researchers at Johns Hopkins University, his lab has set up a stationary air quality monitoring network that will measure more than 50 sites throughout the city, and enlisted 100 people for the study to wear portable air monitors, each for several days.

“On any given day, a person is going to different locations — in your home, your car, your office, and different shops,” Gentner said. “Outside of the scientific goals of understanding the spatial temporal heterogeneity of exposure to air pollutants, we want to provide people the tools they need to make informed decisions and better personal choices. That’s one of the things we’re interested in: How do people’s personal choices affect air pollution?”


public lands

Five Ways Hiking Is Good for You

Greater Good Magazine, Jill Suttie from

… Hiking in nature is so powerful for our health and well-being that some doctors have begun prescribing it as an adjunct to other treatments for disease. As one group of researchers puts it, “The synergistic effect of physical activity and time spent in nature make hiking an ideal activity to increase overall health and wellness.”

Here is what science is saying about the benefits of hiking.

1. Hiking keeps your mind sharper than many other forms of exercise


The Government Is Moving to Shrink Bears Ears for Good

Outside Online, Heather Hansman from

On Thursday, the Department of Interior announced that it had finalized plans for shrinking Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments.

The announcement comes despite ongoing lawsuits from tribes and conservation groups arguing that reduction is illegal, and significant public comment worrying that the move would open fragile landscapes for extraction.

“Any suggestion these lands and resources will be adversely impacted by being excluded from monument status is certainly not true,” said Casey Hammond, the Interior Department’s acting assistant secretary for land and minerals management, in a statement about the finalization.


Nature Play Can Boosts Kids’ Creativity, Complex Thinking and Social Skills

PsychCentral, Traci Pedersen from

A new Australian study finds that nature play can improve children’s complex thinking skills, social skills and creativity.

Researchers from the University of South Australia (UniSA) conducted a systematic review exploring the impact of playing in nature on the health and development of children ages 2 to 12. The study is the first to provide evidence that supports the development of innovative nature play spaces in childcare centers and schools.



CityU new droplet-based electricity generator: A drop of water lights up 100 small LED bulbs

City University of Hong Kong, Press Releases from

A research team led by scientists from City University of Hong Kong (CityU) has recently developed a new form of droplet-based electricity generator (DEG).

It features a field-effect transistor (FET)-like structure that allows for high energy-conversion efficiency, and its instantaneous power density is increased by thousands of times compared to its counterparts without FET-like structure.


Supercharging tomorrow: Australia first to test new lithium batteries

Monash University (AU), Latest News from

… rofessor Mainak Majumder said this development was a breakthrough for Australian industry and could transform the way phones, cars, computers and solar grids are manufactured in the future.

“Successful fabrication and implementation of Li-S batteries in cars and grids will capture a more significant part of the estimated $213 billion value chain of Australian lithium, and will revolutionise the Australian vehicle market and provide all Australians with a cleaner and more reliable energy market,” Professor Majumder said.


What Happens Inside a Battery to Make It Catch Fire?

Popular Mechanics, Caroline Delbert from

Scientists from the U.S. Army and the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) have used a new “molecular eye” to watch chemical reactions inside a battery in real time for the first time. The eye uses real-time mass spectrometry to examine how the components interact inside a solid-electrolyte interphase (SEI), which is the mechanism that powers most of our batteries.

In a new paper in Nature, the team of government researchers describes using the molecular eye to watch how the electrode and electrolyte interact in a lithium-ion battery. The scientists identified specific phenomena that they say will help engineers make better batteries in the future, but the bigger takeaway is really the observation method.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.