Fitness Technologies Increase Motivation

the eFinland Weblog

Helsinki, 8 March, 2006 — We usually don’t see fitness results the first week, but we sure feel the pain. Perhaps the best balm would be information, the opportunity to see clearly and immediately what we are achieving for ourselves in fitness and sports activities. There is a network of companies and research institutes enabled by the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation Tekes and its technology programmes that have made this a prime target.

Firstbeat Technologies Oy began project modelling of the autonomic nervous system a number of years ago as a part of a Tekes technology programme. As a spin-off from this R&D, Firstbeat Technologies Oy developed a software engine that builds a model of the user's body functions on the basis of the heart beat signal. Based on beat-by-beat recording of the heart rate it was possible to distinguish between mental stress and very low-intensity exercise and recovery from an exercise state.

“The main consideration is what information the end user gets and how it will be used. Technological advances are making this even easier, but the individual is still the key,” says CEO Joni Kettunen.

Walking the Walk

Nordic walking is a fitness exercise routine of walking at a brisk pace, using specifically designed poles to engage the upper body. Nordic walking was first used as a summer training method by cross-country skiers. It was then developed into a fitness exercise with specific training equipment in co-operation with the Finnish sports equipment manufacturer Exel Oyj, researchers in sports medicine, and other fitness professionals

Exel has now introduced a hi-tech twist to Nordic Walking. Exel's pole is called Calometer. The pair of Nordic Walking poles has an electronic unit in the right hand grip which collects information on the user's performance. The pole measures, for example, distance, used force and time. It also converts this information into caloric expenditure.

“In general people are really interested in knowing, how long a distance, how much time and how many calories,” says Exel Vice President Aki Karihtala.

Bragging Rights and More

Probably the most sophisticated fitness tool around is the FRWD Outdoor Sports Computer created by FRWD Technologies Ltd of Oulu. Speed, distance, heart rate, route and altitude during a sports performance are all made available by the package, which combines not only a heart rate monitor, but also a GPS receiver, and a barometric altimeter. Because it records all data for replay, it is the only product that enables reliving a sports performance, and the excitement that goes with it.

FRWD Sales Director Markku Tapio, points out that this is the first product with such a combination of sensors and recording capacity. “With this combination – you have a product more accurate than a GPS alone and it gives you a unique way of looking at your sport with input and output, how much energy you expended."

The complete article is publised in the 2006 issue of Tekes' Views on Finnish Technology magazine. If you are not yet a subscriber, please subscribe at Tekes' website.

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