Healthy Tech: Improving apps with brain data and 2 more stories

In this week's edition of Healthy Tech, Garmin unveils a fancy watch for swimmers, a company called PLX Devices unveils a headband that monitors your brainwaves so you can control specialty apps on your smartphone, and Eyejets shows off SlideLens for people in the developing world who can't afford quality eyecare or eyewear.

1. Garmin Announces Garmin Swim

Runkeeper is my go-to running app. The ability to use my iPhone's GPS to track where I've run, as well as give me incredibly accurate details on how stats like how many miles I've run and how many calories I've burned is so crucial to me as an amateur runner.

Runkeeper is great for other things, too — as long as you have access to a GPS signal — such as tracking your time on an elliptical or bike. But unless I put my iPhone in a waterproof case, it wouldn't come in the pool with me.

With that in mind, this week Garmin announced the Garmin Swim, its "first training watch designed specifically for swimmers that let users track stroke type, stroke count, distance, pace, lengths and more." It was announced this week because it will be on display at the U.S. Masters Swimming Championships in Omaha, Nebraska July 5-8.

Now unlike a similar running-based app, swimmers will need to glance at their watch to see how they're doing, but at least they know longer need to estimate. The battery supposedly lasts one year and is easy to replace at home. More important for swimmers, Garmin claims its "sleek profile allows it to cut right through the water, so it won't cause drag or slow swimmers down." (They also say it's cool enough that you'd want to wear it out of the pool, but that's up to you.)

After the swim, you can upload your data to Garmin Connect, a website for free online analysis. The watch also uses ANT wireless technology and a USB stick so that its data automatically transfers to your computer when in range — love, love that. I've always found that if my self-tracking products can upload without me having to do it, I'll be more likely to pay attention to the data it has analyzed.

Garmin Swim is available now and can be had for $149.99.

Via Garmin

2. PLX Devices Unveils the XWave Sports for Tracking and Using Brainwaves with Your Smartphone

It should be no secret to regular readers of Healthy Tech that I really like tracking my fitness and exercise with a myriad of devices I wear all over my body. The one thing I've always been nervous — fair or not — about wearing is a device that tracks my brain waves. (Though I did review the Zeo alarm clock last year.) I just get uncomfortable with something constantly interacting with my brain.

But I was intrigued by a new product announced this week from PLX Devices called the XWave Sport. They describe it as a "fashionable brain computer interface headband that is also designed for everyday wear."

It consists of a soft conductive fabric worn over your left eyebrow that "safely measures and detects your brainwaves" which can be send to your smartphone or PC and used for interacting with apps that can be games, brain training or more.

No more details about the apps have been announced, probably because PLX just recently unveiled the software development kits (SDK) app developers need for iOS, Android and PC. According to PLX, "whether it is relaxation, brain training, entertainment, games, social networking, sports, sleep, the possibilities are endless with the XWave Sport."

An intriguing product nonetheless — I'm just not 100% sure I'm going to be comfortable wearing it on my head for long periods of time. (But you know what? For this column, I would give it a try.)

XWave Sport will retail for $99 and will supposedly operate for six hours on a single charge.

Via PLX Devices

3. Eyejusters Creates SlideLens for the Developing World

DVICE's Michael Trei covered this here, but it's one of my favorite health tech stories and I think it's worthy of this space.

A company called Eyejusters has created a new set of self-adjustable glasses for the developing world. People in poverty stricken countries can't head to the optometrist as regularly as people can in the Western part of the world, so Eyejusters created an adjustable lens technology called SlideLens.

SlideLens consists of a pair of lenses which "act together to correct an individual's eyesight." If the wearer's condition worsens, as eyesight does do over anyone's lifetime, they can slide one of the lenses over the other from left to right, adjusting the prescription on the fly until they see better.

The glasses are priced at $40, but according to Eyejusters, "the main aim is to distribute these to people in the developing world."

According to some estimates mentioned by Gizmag's Dave Parrack, there are "670 million people around the world living without the glasses they need, with 95% of the people in sub-Saharan Africa who need them going without." It's an incredible issue that Eyejusters is trying to tackle and it's a company I hope can have as much success as TOMS.

Via Gizmag

About Healthy Tech

This is the Healthy Tech Weekly, where guest columnist Alan Danzis reports on choice healthy technology news stories. Each week you'll discover new fitness gadgets, apps and going-ons, as well as what's around the corner, with medical innovations that will one day change the way you monitor and impact your overall health and well-being.

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