27 Jan 2017
health tech

Luminous PR’s FitnessTech picks

Healthy is the new black 

If you hadn’t heard, it’s cool to be healthy now.

The third bestselling book of 2016 was Joe Wicks’ Lean in 15, veganism has gone mad, and we’re putting coconut oil on anything and everything. Following its quick rise in public popularity, health and wellbeing have since faced a bit of a backlash. They can have a tendency to veer into ‘faddy’ territory, and punishingly restrictive lifestyles are sometimes veiled under the guise of ‘health’. Even Ella Woodward, of Deliciously Ella fame, has since deleted all mentions of ‘clean eating’ from her popular blog.

With all this conflicting advice and opinion, it can be difficult to know where to stand on health. The position of the Luminous team is right in the middle on this one. We all have a genuine interest in eating (lots of) healthy food, and getting stuck in with exercise and activities we enjoy. You only get one body, after all, so it pays to look after it! That said, we make plenty of allowances for treats.

In our book, health is holistic way of giving your whole life some TLC, including your relationships, finances, and mental health. And as a massive bunch of geeks, we’ve found some tech that can help with that.


Wearable: Motiv Smart Ring 

Don’t get us wrong, we love our FitBits. However, depending on what you’re up to, they’re not always discrete enough or appropriate.

Enter the Motiv Smart Ring. Just like the FitBit, it tracks the wearer’s activity levels and sleep, but it’s substantially smaller. It looks just like any other ring. It’s waterproof too, so you needn’t ever take it off. No more missed tracking days because you forgot your FitBit. As expected, it links to its own app – we’re not sure if you can sync it to things like My Fitness Pal or Apple’s HealthKit, though.

Motiv’s USP (according to them) is its ability to record ‘active minutes’. From their website: “Active minutes are what count. Science says all steps aren’t created equal. You also need sweaty, heart-pumping activities that challenge your body. Motiv tracks the active minutes experts say you need each week to truly impact your health.” If you miss a workout, the app will recalculate your workouts so you get enough active minutes.

One thing we’re not sure about is its lack of a screen. Yes, the ring is sleek and subtle, but we’re not sure what impact that will have on usability.


Fitness app: Aaptiv

This is a personal fave of Luminous CEO, Kirsty.

Previously known as SkyFit, Aaptiv is an audio fitness app that pairs a motivational trainer with the perfect playlist, allowing you to create the buzz of a fitness class where ever you are, and whenever you fancy.

Check out this video for a taste of Aaptiv:

The recorded trainers are SO enthusiastic, it’s easy to jump in and feel motivated. There are hundreds of fitness classes available, including running, cycling, yoga, and marathon training, plus it is fully integrated with HealthKit. Aaptiv is a subscription service, so unfortunately you do have to pay for it. However, for just $9.99 a month, it’s not too pricey.


Accessory: Quad lock case 

It’s all well and good relying on a clever new app to power your exercise routine, but then you have to deal with the conundrum of what to do with your phone. Certain members of the Luminous PR team have been known to pop their phone in a freezer bag and stick in in their sports bra… but that’s probably not very safe. Or hygeinic.

If you want a proper solution, we recommend the Quad Lock phone cases for runners. No matter how fast you go, they won’t slide down your arm. They even have a range for cyclists. They’ll fit your GoPro, too, if you like to film what you’re up to.

At around £50 each, they’re not the cheapest phone holder out there, but they are super strong and durable.


Smart bottle: Hidrate Spark 

Drinking enough water is one of the easiest ways imaginable to stay healthy, and yet nearly all of us suck at it. Probably because we’d rather be drinking something more exciting.

If cutting up bits of fruit and putting it in your water bottle isn’t enough to trick yourself to stay hydrated, perhaps you might like the Hidrate Spark. The bottle contains a sensor, which records how often you’re taking a sip. If you go haven’t had a drink for a while, a light within the bottle will flash to remind you. The bottle syncs to an app to track your hydration targets. These will adjust if you’re more active, to make sure you stay hydrated.

The Hidrate Spark is by no means the first or only smart water bottle out there, but we think it does have the nicest design. It also syncs with Apple HealthKit, My Fitness Pal, Jawbone, and Google Health.



Mental health app: Headspace 

Headspace positions itself as a ‘gym membership for the mind’, allowing to gain calm and clarity through short sessions of guided meditation.

This is a subscription service, but you get to sample it first with the ‘take ten’ programme. These ten-minute meditation sessions over ten days help provide a sense of what a Headspace subscription will offer, and are a great introduction for those who have never meditated before. If you choose to subscribe, you gain access to hundreds of guided meditation sessions, from two minutes to one hour. It can also teach you to meditate unguided, too. The sessions are also divided into programmes, for those who want to use meditation to tackle a particular issue in their life. For example, relationships, or confidence.

We gave this a quick test in the office and we liked what we saw: the user platform was intuitive and well-designed, and the recorded speaker who led the meditation session was pleasant to listen to. We did genuinely feel more relaxed, even after just ten minutes. Though we’d love it if Headspace were totally free, it is still very affordable: a monthly subscription is just £7.95. A small price to pay for clarity and calm, if you ask us!


Financial health app: Moneybox

Many of us are keen to set up some investments for the future, but not sure where to start. The Moneybox app makes it very simple.

Whenever you make a purchase through a linked card, Moneybox will round up the ‘change’ and put it in a stocks and shares ISA. For example, if you bought a £2.40 coffee, 60p would be transferred to your ISA. This money is then invested in one of three ways, depending on if you’re feeling adventurous or cautious: tracker funds from Vanguard, BlackRock and Henderson.

The Moneybox team established the app to try to get millennials interested in the prospect of investing. With its slick interface and simple concept, it certainly proves that investing needn’t be difficult or time-consuming.


Healthy new year! 

Jokes aside, this is set to be a massive year for HealthTech. According to figures released by Silicon Valley Bank, the average investment size in HealthTech devices in 2016 was $8.8m, up $2.8m since 2014, and the average amount invested in diagnostics, health information technology and tools also reached $8.8m. Clearly, there is both opportunity and appetite for HealthTech to succeed this year. We look forward to seeing what happens next.