Evolution of the Wearable is Evolution of the Athlete: Origins- By Jonathan Abrams

Updated: May 21, 2019



The year was 1981. IBM introduced its signature personal computer, the term “Internet” entered public discourse, and a fuse was lit that ultimately exploded in our modern era of omnipresent user-friendly technology.


In millennia past, a spear and a rock worked the way a smartphone and a charger do today. Just as our ancient ancestors relied on sharp sticks and blunt objects to survive, you and I presently depend on the latest gadgets, apps, and online technology.


This is true in our work, in our social lives, and, very much, in our practices regarding fitness, athletics, and nutrition.


It may seem like the current wave of wearable fitness gear began with the iPhone in 2007, but in fact the technology dates back to the 1970s, when a fingertip heart-rate monitor called the Micro Heart Pulser (MHP) first emerged in Finland. Was it a medical marvel? Well, it became one in time, but initially the MHP was developed to provide an edge to Finland’s national cross-country skiing team.


Seppo Säynäjäkangas, whose Polar Electro company pioneered the MHP, proved to be a visionary whose genius continues to touch athletes today—literally!


In 1984, Polar Electro introduced the Sports Tester PE3000, the first wearable device available to the general public. As such, Seppo is renowned worldwide as the inventor of the wearable, wireless heart rate monitor and the originator of the revolution presently at hand (or wherever else you clip your devices).


Wearable fitness tech continued to develop remarkably over the next quarter-century before making a quantum leap forward in 2009. Anybody out there familiar with the Fitbit?


In terms of wearable tech, the Fitbit proved to be a before and-after-line on par with the iPhone itself. From it came the concept of “10,000 steps,” which exists now in the minds of many as a standard access point for healthy living.


Still, the Fitbit is a decade old. So what are some of the latest, greatest developments?


In my (somewhat) humble opinion, the Oura Ring isn’t just a leap forward in wearable tech, it’s a record-breaking long-jump forward.


As its name suggests, the Oura Ring is an actual ring. It reads your body temperature and gauges the fluctuations your body experiences during the night. This information provides an extremely effective (and, frankly, very cool) way to evaluate whether you should hold on to the yellow tape before you decide to kill it in the gym.


In addition, the Oura Ring tracks your heart rate variability, interbeat intervals, and your resting heart rate. And look what it does with it…

All of that’s just the tip of iceberg. Plus, speaking of ice, the Balance Diamond Oura Ring isn’t just a clever name. Regardless, the Oura Ring is as invaluable to the athlete as it is to the everyday air-breather. I highly recommend it.


A few other choice items, and might I say, the chef’s personal favorites (yes, I’m the waiter and the chef now) is the WHOOP band, made specifically for the athlete.


For years, I endured lathering up a bunch of goo on a wireless heart rate monitor and sticking it to my chest before bed, in the interest of accurately recording my heart rate. Then, one day, WHOOP—there it was!


I’ve wondered if they call it the WHOOP because that’s the sound you hear someone make when they discover that they can wear it on their wrist for incredibly accurate data, minus the gooey chest. While others wrist bands fell short in delivering accurate data like the icky, sticky chest straps, the WHOOP goes the distance. Once again—WHOOP! There it is!


The list goes on and we’ll be exploring it further. Until then, I’ll ask you to consider sensory-based shoes and clothing that track performance. Now how about glasses that measure your brainwaves to help you keep your cool? And what about a device that can hyper-accurately measure your metabolism by simply having you breathe into it?


It’s all out there, and as noted, we’ll dive deep into it right here. The future is now. Strap it on and let’s go!


Signing off until next time…


Take it active or easy,

Jon

P.S. WHOOP!