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SportBrain: An Intriguing Combination of Fitness and Wearable Computing Technologies

What if I told you that I found a $99 device that helps you to electronically measure the exercise you get doing your "everyday" activities? Would you be more interested if I mentioned the fact that the device contains a cheap, low power personal area networking technology that compares favorably in some respects to Bluetooth?

I may have found such a device in SportBrain, a little fitness-oriented gadget that I received from my brother and sister for Christmas. I had not heard of the product before I got it as a gift, so I set out to find reviews of it on the Internet. As RFCoC said on October 20, "This little device is actually a fascinating example of Convergence (the coming together of computing, communications, content, and
consumer electronics), as well as a demonstration of how commoditizing one product (making it inexpensive) may open the door to
a wide range of unintended consequences."

I have been using Sportbrain for about 10 days. That's long enough to find out how far I walk in my typical workday. The basic pedometer unit also comes in handy as another way of documenting my distance running and providing some measure of my progress to friends and family.

I ordered the optional heart rate monitor, primarily as a way to experience the personal area network features of the system. I have not receieved it yet, but I hope that it also provides some insight into the amount of exercise I get when I officiate an ice hockey game. Although skating has a similar motion to jogging, the SportBrain documentation says that the pedometer itself cannot accurately measure distance, speed, or effort associated with ice skating or cycling.

This product might also be a reverse-engineering dream come true: Another set of electronic technologies packaged in a consumer-oriented (read: closed) manner. The manufacturer would probably generate some favorable buzz among the tinkerer and software developer community if it published its APIs, but I don't think that has happened yet.

I will attempt to provide more in the way of personal experience with SportBrain as I continue to use it. I did not expect its use to be as intriguing to me as it has proven to be.

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