The MIO ALPHA sports watch employs unique optical technology to accurately and continuously measure heart rate without requiring a conventional heart-rate strap. Measured data can be transmitted live or after training to any Bluetooth® v4.0 enabled smartphone via a Nordic Bluetooth low energy wireless link.
MIO is a line of patented strapless heart rate monitor wristwatches and calorie management systems by Physical Enterprises Inc. that collect and record personalized biofeedback to make reaching weight-loss and fitness goals simple and comfortable. The first strapless heart rate monitor sports watch on the market, MIO provides accurate heart rate data without uncomfortable chest straps.
Ultra low power (ULP) RF specialist Nordic Semiconductor ASA announced that the world's first strapless continuous heart rate monitor for athletes, the MIO ALPHA sports watch, employs a Nordic µBlue™ nRF8001 Bluetooth low energy Connectivity IC ('Integrated circuit' or 'chip') to communicate live or stored training data directly from the wrist to any Bluetooth v4.0 enabled smartphone or device.
The MIO ALPHA is designed for both serious amateur and professional athletes and employs a unique electro-optical cell with a pair of optical sensors on the underside of the watch to track blood flow volume in the wrist as it pulsates with the rhythm of the heart to extrapolate heart rate.
“This technology enables the MIO ALPHA sport watch to measure a user's heart rate without an uncomfortable strap at performance speeds up to 12mph [19km/h], with the same accuracy as traditional EKG/ECG [electrocardiogram] based heart-rate straps,” says Emily Rothwell, VP of Sales and Marketing at Physical Enterprises Inc., the company behind the MIO ALPHA.
"Achieving this level of end-user simplicity without compromising accuracy compared to a traditional heart-rate strap wasn't easy," admits Rothwell. "An onboard motion detector and built-in noise filtration software developed by consumer electronics giant Philips compensate for arm movements and perspiration typical of fast running and cycling, which can all interfere with blood flow measurements."
The class-leading ultra-low power and RF performance characteristics of the Nordic Semiconductor µBlue™ nRF8001 Bluetooth low energy Connectivity chip enable the MIO ALPHA's built-in rechargeable lithium ion battery to offer up to 10 hours of 'live' heart-rate smartphone-linked monitoring. This ensures reliable performance even in demanding 2.4GHz operating environments such as busy, modern gyms that can house numerous local active devices and emitters (in particular Wi-Fi) all working on the same frequency.
The MIO ALPHA can be used as a standalone device and includes features such as workout timers, continuous heart rate display and audible heart-rate zone alerts, or in conjunction with popular smartphone apps such as MapMyRun, RunKeeper and Wahoo Fitness.
The MIO ALPHA was recognized as an honoree in the prestigious International CES Innovations 2013 Design & Engineering Awards and won a 'Best Fitness Tech' award from Laptop magazine at the recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.
"Heart-rate straps don't suit everyone and in particular they can be uncomfortable for women," says Rothwell. "Our product gives consumers a brand new option for measuring heart-rate that many will find more comfortable and convenient to use."
"Anything that gives consumers more choice within an establish market can only be good news," says Geir Langeland, Nordic Semiconductor's Director of Sales & Marketing. "Strapless heart rate monitoring is a welcome addition to the sports and fitness sector and joins a growing list of monitoring options that can be used standalone or with a smartphone thanks to Bluetooth low-energy wireless technology."