Anyone who's ever tried to start on a long-term exercise program knows that the hard part isn't so much the “exercise” so much as it is the “long-term.” But for one company, Spree Wearables out of Dallas, turning the short-term resolve of the new year into a long-term program of exercise and improved health may be just as simple as a cap. Specifically, it's the SmartCap Wearable Fitness Monitor, and it's looking to make fitness tracking as simple as putting on a hat.
The Spree SmartCap is unique for several reasons in the field; one is, naturally, its unusual form factor, which puts wearable fitness tracking not on a wrist, or even on a leg, but rather right on the top of the head. Another is that it focuses its tracking on three important variables, specifically, those most likely to be of note in any fitness routine. Said variables are heart rate, movement, and body temperature, which are surprisingly easily monitored from the head, or rather, the forehead. All those times growing up your mother felt your forehead to see if you had a fever are now at least somewhat validated here.
Once the SmartCap is in place, the device then begins to track its key metrics, and translates the results into simple graphs that are easily viewed and read later to help understand the progress of a workout and derive some lessons about what to do in the future. The SmartCap can tell a user when said user is sufficiently warmed up, and also track temperature to help prevent overheating, which can be a serious problem in athletes. Plus, knowing body temperature allows a measure of calories burned, since, after all, the calorie is a unit of heat.
The Spree SmartCap, according to the company, is waterproof, and could even survive contact with the underside of a car's tires, though the company doesn't specifically recommend running over a SmartCap just to make sure. It pairs with a Bluetooth Smart-enabled device, and works with Android devices running 4.4 or better as well as any iOS Version 7 device. It can currently be purchased for $199 from several sources, including Amazon, Brookstone, and direct from Spree Wearables.
This is one of those things that probably will have a lot of people slapping heads and wondering “Why didn't I think of that?” We've heard in the past how chest-mounted fitness trackers can be cumbersome and unpleasant, and we've seen moves to connect fitness trackers to the wrist and even to the legs, but the top of the head has just been sitting there, untapped, for some time. Few had considered this new angle, and indeed, it really does allow access to most of the critical core points of a workout. Plus, it's something that people would likely wear anyway; a cap to keep the head protected against sun and the eyes shaded for better visibility is as common a workout tool as a pair of shoes for many. But it took this jump here to make it all happen, and now that it has, it's likely to be pretty well received for those who enjoy a good workout.
It will be interesting to see how the sales of this device proceed over the months to come—especially once the weather starts improving and it's a little easier to get outside—but that New Year's resolution to get in shape in 2015 may just get a little extra power from tools like the Spree SmartCap.
Edited by Maurice Nagle