Outdoor Retailer Day 4: Tech-Styles

One standout gadget symbolizes the booming wearable technology market

Wearable technology—from wrist-worn fitness and health trackers to smart watches to Google Glass, which will be flooded with real-time, fitness-based apps—is poised for a breakout year in the health and fitness category. While you wouldn’t have known it from this week’s Outdoor Retailer (the fitness sector tends to be much better represented at Summer Market in August), the fact was well documented two weeks ago at the Consumer Electronics Show, just six hours down the road in Las Vegas, where hundreds of gadgets competed for wrist space and attention. At OR, on the other hand, there were only a handful of wearable technologies, like heated apparel and ICEdot helmet-mounted crash sensors, and just one devoted to something as mainstream as fitness tracking. Luckily that one gadget offered something new and innovative and useful that sets it apart from its many predecessors. Here’s the scoop:

Jaybird Reign
At first glance, the Reign looks like another hard-to-distinguish, wrist-mounted fitness tracker. Like the FitBit Force, Nike+ FuelBand SE and Jawbone UP24, it uses accelerometers to measure activities like running, walking, cycling, swimming and sleep. But it’s what it does with all that data that sets the Reign apart from the competition. Rather than simply quantify your day-to-day activities and tell you what you’ve already done, it uses those metrics to help you decide what to do—get some R&R or go for a PR—in the future.

Here’s how it works. The Reign uses an integrated heart rate monitor (hold your finger on the band for two minutes to get a reading) to determine how fatigued you are. It uses that measurement, plus detailed sleep metrics like time slept and quality, to make suggestions on how hard you should train today and how many ZZZs you need tonight. It bases these suggestions on a user-friendly 100-point “Go Zone” scale—a low score means you should relax, and a high score means hit it hard. It’s a cool concept that’s more focused on overall fitness and well-being rather than simply increasing your training.
$199; jaybirdsport.com

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