10 innovative health gadgets at CES

Amid the glitz and glamour of the Consumer Electronics Show were 10 gadgets that aim to help people sit up straight, eat slowly and monitor vital signs as they exercise, work and sleep.

10 Innovative Health Gadgets at CES

This year's Consumer Electronics Show saw a flurry of new health gadgets that will motivate people to move and exercise, eat healthy and seek proper medical care. Most work with smartphones and tablets so you can monitor your progress during a workout or throughout the day. Many also leverage online social communities to keep you motivated, accountable and responsible for keeping up with your health goals.

Although most of these devices are geared for consumers, some are designed for medical professionals who may want to treat an unsuspecting patient eating at a local restaurant or sitting on an airplane. Let's look at some of these innovative health gadgets that will turn your head.

Dr. Joseph Kim is the president of MCM Education.

Scanadu Scout
Scanadu Scout

If you've ever watched Star Trek, you've probably seen Dr. McCoy, the ship's medical officer, using a Tricorder to diagnose a broken bone, headache or other ailment. The noninvasive Scanadu Scout can similarly help you track vital signs, giving you real-time information about your health conditions. Simply hold the device up to your head -- or anyone else's head -- and it "scans," measuring temperature, heart rate, breathing rate and oxygen level.

Once you have this information on your mobile device, you can share it with your doctor. So the next time your kid gets sick with a fever, you could scan her vital signs, send that data to your pediatrician and get a more accurate picture of what's going on.

Price: Not yet available

Basis B1 Watch
Basis B1 watch

The Basis B1 watch is a stylish, self-tracking motion-sensor watch that can also measure your heart rate, perspiration and skin temperature throughout the day and night. These advanced sensors are built into the back of the watch so you don't have to wear separate chest straps or body patches. This biometric data gets uploaded to an online portal that lets you track your fitness activity, your sleep and even your resting heart rate (which can be an indicator of your heart health). The rechargeable Bluetooth-enabled watch will sync wirelessly with your mobile device so you can access your information anywhere.

Price: $199

Fitbit Flex
Fitbit Flex

Fitbit was one of the first companies to develop self-tracking digital pedometers that synchronize data and motivate people to exercise regularly. The Fitbit Flex, one of the company's newest models, is designed to be worn as a wristband -- you no longer have to worry about throwing your jeans in the wash with your Fitbit clipped to the waist. The Fitbit Flex (which was reviewed in CIO) is similar to the Nike+ FuelBand and the Jawbone Up. Worn on the wrist, it uses a series of LED lights to show your activity progress. The Fitbit Flex syncs with your mobile device using Bluetooth 4.0 so that you can view your stats in real-time and maximize battery life.

Price: $99.95 (pre-order)

AliveCor Heart Monitor
AliveCor heart monitor

Although CES focuses on consumers, we shouldn't forget that doctors are consumers, too. This year, AliveCor showcased its heart monitor case for the iPhone 4 and 4S. This device uses AliveCor's proprietary wireless communication protocol to communicate and requires no pairing between the iPhone and the Heart Monitor. The FDA-approved medical device is intended for use by doctors to record, display, store, transfer and evaluate single-channel electrocardiogram (ECG) rhythm strips.

In clinical trials, AliveCor's Heart Monitor demonstrated clinical efficacy. Of course, this has real-world interest, too: The next time someone at a restaurant or airport develops chest pain, a doctor may pull out an iPhone to accurately diagnose a heart attack.

Price: $199; available only to U.S. licensed medical professionals

Wahoo Fitness Blue HR Heart Rate Strap
Wahoo Fitness Blue HR heart rate strap

Monitoring your heart rate during exercise can help you maximize your aerobic potential safely and help you boost your fitness level. So how do you monitor your heart rate when you exercise? Heart rate monitoring straps made by companies such as Polar USA, Garmin, Timex and Suunto only work with certain watches or fitness equipment.

At CES, though, Wahoo Fitness introduced a heart rate monitoring strap that connects to any mobile device via Bluetooth. Use the strap in conjunction with the Wahoo Fitness mobile app and you can track real-time heart rate data on your smartphone or tablet -- though the company's open API also lets you use other mobile apps with the heart rate strap.

Price: $79.99


How fast can you finish a plate of food? Eating too fast is actually hazardous to your health, since it takes a while for your body to tell you that you're full. To combat this, HAPIlabs has engineered its electronic HAPIfork to monitor and track a person's eating habits. (Of course, you'll need to carry it around when you go out to eat.)

Use it regularly, and you may find yourself losing weight as you think about what, how quickly and how often you're eating. A USB connector on the fork syncs your data with an online portal where the HAPIlabs online coaching program will help you improve your eating behavior.

(For another opinion, check out: Hapifork Among Dumbest Tech at CES 2013.)

Price: Not yet available

LUMOBack Posture Sensor
LUMOback posture sensor

How's your posture when you sit at work? With the LUMOback posture sensor, you'll receive feedback in the form of a gentle vibration when you slouch. This reminder will help you sit straight and, in the long run, avoid back problems.

The LUMOback posture sensor is worn on your lower back, and its slim design makes it so comfortable that you'll hardly notice it's there. The Bluetooth-enabled strap also communicates with your mobile device so that you can measure and track your progress over time. If you spend a lot of time sitting throughout the day, this little device could literally save your back.

Price: $149

Withings Smart Body Analyzer WS-50
Withings Smart Body Analyzer WS-50

With the Withings Smart Body Analyzer WS-50, your bathroom scale isn't just a scale anymore. Your morning routine of standing on the scale can be transformed into a ritual where you become enlightened with several additional pieces of information about your health, including heart rate, body fat percentage, body mass index (BMI) and even indoor air quality. What's more, it sends all this data wirelessly to your mobile device so you can share this information with clinicians or a motivational support team built around your social network.

Price: Not yet available

ibitz Activity Monitor
Ibitz activity monitor

Why should adults have all the fun wearing self-tracking gadgets? The Ibitz by GeoPalz is a wireless activity monitor specially designed to encourage kids to exercise.

If your child is constantly engaged in strenuous physical activity, then he or she may not need one. But for the child addicted to video games or talking on a mobile phone, the Ibitz Powerkey can promote exercise and trigger creative juices to flow as the child interacts with playful digital characters similar to Tamagotchi digital pets. Using a separate device called the Unity, parents can track their child's progress and join in some physical activities as well. 

Price: $40 (Powerkey), $55 (Unity); currently in pre-order via an Indiegogo campaign

iRiver ON Fitness Monitoring Earbuds
iRiver ON fitness monitoring earbuds

Do you like to listen to music when you exercise? Now, you can get earbuds that will stream music and measure your biometrics while you run on a treadmill, lift weights or do aerobics.

The iRiver ON is a Bluetooth-enabled audio headset that tracks your heart rate and physical activity using Valencell's PerformTek Precision Biometrics. These earbuds will provide information about your activity level, calories burned, metabolic rate, energy usage and more. They will also sync with your mobile device so you can track your activity level with each workout session.

Price: $199 (available in March 2013)