Connect with us

Tech News

Running gadgets 2017: the top fitness tech to help you run better

Published

on

Running is easy, right? It’s just going outside (or on a treadmill) and putting one foot in front of the other, rinse and repeat.

But, even an instinctive exercise like running can be improved through innovative technology. And, that’s what we’re here for.

Ask any runner, and after they tell you about all of the local public toilets and water fountains, they’ll surely tell you that the one thing all marathon addicts develop over time is a love of data.

Monitoring your form and knowing how fast, how far and just how close you are to a new personal best (PB) while you’re running is an amazing way to help you understand and optimize your training, spot areas to work on and edge you closer to realizing your goals.

While the best running watches, wireless earbuds, trainers and some sweat-wicking gear is probably at the top of your list, we went ahead and took the liberty to bring you a list of the best running gadgets that could bring you just that much closer to that ever elusive PB, one step further from injury and generally make running an easier, more enjoyable time.

Note: we’ve ranked these from cheapest to most expensive according to prices at time of writing.

1. FlipBelt

Ultimate stash belt for all your run-tech

Nothing falls out

Soft, secure and comfy

Need to take care with sizing

Not waterproof

The market is absolutely saturated with devices that feature data tracking, stats and apps, but FlipBelt is one of the most uncomplicated pieces of gear around. It’s also one of the most indispensable.

Pull the flexible fabric tube up around your waist, fill it with all your running essentials – phone, credit card, energy gels, emergency change for the public bathroom – and flip over. And, just like that, everything sits firmly around your waist.

Unlike a fanny pack with its adjustable straps and buckles, the belt sits flush against the skin so there’s essentially no bounce. No zips on the openings means no chafing and, assuming you get the correct size – there are five to choose from ranging from a 23- to 41-inch waist – there’s no riding up either.

You can even get water bottles designed to fit inside the belt, so it’s ‘goodbye’ to that sloshing lopsided gait.

2. Shapeheart Armband

Two-for-one HR tracker and phone holster

Heart rate tracking

Data syncs with Strava

It’s an armband

Heavier than other bands

Any runner that is striving to be more efficient in their exercise needs one thing above any other, and it’s a space-saving two-in-one gadget like the Shapeheart Armband.

Unless you’re planning to purchase the Apple Watch 3, carrying your phone on runs is often an unavoidable hassle and, while armbands aren’t everyone’s favorite, they’re regrettably necessary for most runners. And if that’s something you need, you may as well make it twice as useful.

Not only does the Shapeheart provide a convenient way to carry your phone, with a magnetic case that allows you to easily detach your phone from the strap to take calls, capture those necessary running selfies (or check Google Maps), it also monitors your heart rate.

A detachable optical heart rate (HR) sensor located in the neoprene armband sends your heart rate data to basically any running app you choose – Nike+, Strava and Runkeeper – so you can ensure you’re training in the right zone for your goals.

While it obviously won’t be as accurate as a HR chest strap, the armband should be more trustworthy than the data from a watch as you’re less likely to get that gap between sensor and wrist that can cause irregular HR stats.

3. Lumo Run Sensor

Comprehensive form advice

Helpful post-run video drills

Easy to lose

No third party app sync

The Lumo Run is one of the best running gadgets in the world, and anyone who is serious about improving their performance and speed should be paying attention.

With no less than seven different sensors, including an accelerometer, gyroscope and vibration sensor, all you need to do is attach the 25g lightweight device to the back of your shorts and you’ve negated the need for a trip to the augmentations lab.

Lumo tracks all your essential running form stats – that’s cadence (steps per minute), bounce, pelvic movement and how much brake you apply with each step – and sends them to the Lumo app for you to obsess over later, along with personalized recommendations for pre- and post-run exercises based on how you’ve just performed.

You’ll also get tips on aspects of your form to work on during each run, along with live audio-coaching to help you adjust your form on the go.

The caveat for those who prefer running on the light-side, however, is that audio cues and GPS stats, such as pace and distance, are only available if you take your phone along for the ride (see the Shapeheart Armband listed above).

With 20 days of run time and onboard storage for sessions where you want to track phone-free runs this is your best tool for developing your form.

4. Jaybird X3

Lightweight sounds for wireless miles

Excellent adaptable sound

Good battery life

Proprietary charging dock

Intermittent signal

The Jaybird X2 in-ear headphones were extremely popular among runners and we expect the X3 to follow in that tradition These new neckband-style Bluetooth earbuds improve upon their predecessors in nearly every way and even come in at a more respectable price.

To begin with, they’re slightly smaller but keep the sweat-proof design and shockingly great sound.

Bluetooth 4.1 means longer battery life that can easily last you through a marathon with battery to spare, while there’s also more precise control over the audio, thanks to a new companion MySound app that lets you fiddle with sound levels to your heart’s content.

However, what really makes them significant to any runner is how great they fit while running. The wide variety of fitting options means they stay secure in your ears while the lightweight cable eliminates any tug. The only thing that reminds you they’re attached to your head at all is your exercise jam motivating you to strive for that PB.

Read the full review: Jaybird X3

5. AfterShokz Trekz Air

Perfect for safer running soundtracks in urban spaces

Super lightweight

Improve awareness for safer running

Uncomfortable on longer runs

Sound leakage

Designed exclusively for working out, the new generation of wireless AfterShokz IP55 sweat-resistant bone-conduction headphones weighs in at just 30g, that’s about 20% lighter than the original Trekz Titanium – because every gram counts when you’re shooting for a PB.

Ideal for running, no wires means no pulling your earbuds out with every arm swing, six hours of music and calls from a 90-minute full charge means they’ll see you through a marathon with time to spare.

The battery life is far from its most important feature, however, the open-ear design allows you to hear what’s going on around you at all times, particularly important on darker nights and misty mornings and makes them race legal in the UK for open-road running.

Other useful improvements include dual noise cancelling mics so you can actually take that call while you’re on the run (as long as you can breathe) and redesigned bone transducers that deliver more bass, one of our biggest bugbears with previous AfterShokz. The pause button has been overhauled to be easier to tap too… in short, this is a brilliant upgrade.

And because sport headphones tend to spend a lot of time kicking about in the bottom of a bag, they come with a durable premium titanium frame and wraparound band that can withstand a few knocks.

6. Altra Torin IQ

Smart shoes for improving technique

Form tracking without extra gear

Detailed running dynamics insights

Live coaching lacks finesse

Only one style of shoe

Designed to improve your technique and reduce the chance of injury, just about the only thing these smart trainers don’t do is run for you.

As you plod the pavements they’re collecting all kinds of data via lightweight pressure sensors that run the length of the shoes, storing the stats on the Altra IQ app and providing live coaching tips to help you improve your stride.

Monitoring cadence, impact every time you hit the ground, data on how you’re landing – heel, midfoot or forefoot first – how your stride changes with terrain and elevation and even how long your foot is in contact with the floor, these zero-drop cushioned shoes are a stat-loving strider’s dream.

7. LifeBeam Vi

The future of run coaching

Excellent cadence coaching

Brilliant audio

Limited post-run stats

No training plans

Vi is an AI running coach who lives in specially designed earphones. Offering personalized advice based on your goals and running history, she’ll adapt to your training schedule and throw out workout suggestions and tips as you run.

The bio-sensing earphones track your speed, distance, cadence, elevation, heart rate and more so Vi can train you on the go, encouraging you to keep going when you’re about to hit a new goal, telling you to slow down if you have a tendency to set off too fast, offering pace-specific training and suggesting recovery days or harder sessions where necessary.

Rather creepily, Vi also knows your name, the weather and where you are and can tailor her advice to your current situation, such as throwing in a few tips for running in the rain if you’re heading into winter.

Ambitious by design, Vi represents the future of running and fitness gadgets. We’ve spent a lot of time with her – the AI is female – and while right now she’s a great tool for casual and newer runners building fitness, she lacks a few of the essential features that will satisfy the more serious runners chasing PBs.

However, with the ability to support years of software upgrades, Vi can only get better as you do and for those who’d love real-time run coaching but can’t afford it, Vi could make for a good AI option.

8. Halo Sport

Using brain science to improve your performance

Uses science to improve performance

Free scalp massage

Bulky to wear

Audio quality could improve

There’s a reason these headphones look like they’re going to tweak your brain – they are.

Part of a rising trend for applying advanced neuroscience to sport and fitness, Halo Sport employs clever, and somewhat complex, brain science to make you run faster. Worn before your workout, Halo delivers a tingling electrical stimulation over a 20-minute warm up period known as ‘neuropriming’.

The idea is that electric signals help the movement-controlling neurons in your brain fire more easily.

Your brain learns to repeat movements such as the strides you make when running through a process called plasticity, but neuropriming is intended to get your brain into a state of ‘hyper-plasticity’ so it reaches its fine-tuning state more quickly and you get greater muscle control and better results from your workout.

Small-scale studies with baseball team San Francisco Giants showed improvements in speed and explosiveness and there’s a weight of scientific research to back up their effectiveness.

However, unless you really, really care about shaving that elusive minute off your Parkrun time, then this might be a trend to monitor rather than dive in to at this stage.

 

A lover of all things tech, love all things that uses creative juices (not an innuendo) an avid blogger and part time vlogger, not stop reading and go check out some awesome posts on this site.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Tech News

Apple fixes HomeKit bug that allowed remote unlocking of users’ doors | Technology

Published

on

 

Apple has been forced to fix a security hole within its HomeKit smart home system that could have allowed hackers to unlock users’ smart locks or other devices.

The bug within iOS 11.2 permitted unauthorised remote control of HomeKit-enabled devices. Such devices include smart lights, plugs and other gadgets, but also includes smart locks and garage door openers.

An Apple spokesperson said: “The issue affecting HomeKit users running iOS 11.2 has been fixed. The fix temporarily disables remote access to shared users, which will be restored in a software update early next week.”

The company said the temporary fixed was made server side, meaning that users do not have to do anything for it to take effect, but also that it breaks some functionality of the system.

The vulnerability, disclosed to 9to5Mac, required at least one iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch running the latest software version iOS 11.2 to have connected to the iCloud account associated with the HomeKit system. Previous versions of iOS appear not to have been affected. To exploit the bug the attackers would need to know the email address associated with the Apple ID of the homeowner and knowledge of how the system worked.

Experts said that while issues with smart-home systems such as this impact consumer confidence in smart locks and other security devices, traditional locks can also be easily undermined with traditional picking techniques.

The security bug is just the latest in a series of issues affecting Apple’s software on both its iPhone and Mac computers. Since November, iPhone and iPad users have been plagued with bugs affecting the autocorrect system, including issues typing the word “it” and the letter “I”, having it replaced with odd symbols.

Apple was also forced to apologise after a serious security flaw that allowed anyone to take control of a Mac running the latest version of macOS High Sierra with a blank password was revealed. The company rushed out a fix for the security bug, which then broke the file sharing system, which itself needed fixing in a later software update.

“We greatly regret this error and we apologise to all Mac users, both for releasing with this vulnerability and for the concern it has caused. Our customers deserve better,” Apple said at the time.

Continue Reading

Tech News

Google Rolls Out New Chrome Security Feature to Combat Microsoft

Published

on

The internet can be a marvelous thing that gives us access to all the world’s information. However, it also gives us access to all the world’s malware. Every browser maker has implemented tougher security in recent years, but Google and Microsoft are particularly intent on competing with each other. In the latest volley, Google has rolled out a major new enterprise security feature in Chrome called site isolation. It’s a stronger version of the browser’s existing sandboxing feature.

Starting in Chrome v63, which is rolling out now, administrators have the option of enabling site isolation on client machines. This feature uses a separate process for each page the user loads, rather than using the main Chrome process for everything in a window. This offers improved security, because even if a site is running malicious code, it cannot access anything else running in Chrome.

Site isolation comes with a major drawback, though. Google explains that running a separate process for each tab consumes more memory, and Chrome is already a bit of a memory hog. Enabling this feature could increase Chrome’s memory usage by 10-20 percent. If a system has lots of extra RAM, this might be a relatively risk-free change.

This change comes as Microsoft has been making a case for its Edge browser on Windows. In a recent update, Edge gained support for hardware-based virtualization that keeps the browser in an isolated process. This protects the operating system from any malware the browser might encounter, and it doesn’t come with the same performance hit as Chrome’s process isolation.

chrome

Meanwhile, Google is also moving forward on a plan to revoke trust for certificates issued by Symantec, which it has accused of lax oversight in the way these important cryptographic keys are distributed. Symantec and Google began tussling over the last year when Mozilla developers brought to light some bad practices at Symantec. At that point, Google investigated what appeared to be around 100 incorrectly assigned certificates. It turned out the number was closer to 30,000, which is a huge security issue. Websites that were issued these certificates without proper accreditation might appear legitimate to a browser, but in reality, they could be stealing user information or distributing malware.

Symantec is selling its certificate business to let someone else manage the fallout. Google will begin marking old Symantec certificates as untrusted this coming April with Chrome v66, and all Symantec certificates will be untrusted in late 2018.

 

Continue Reading

Tech News

The Canon 70D Review, Pros and Cons (Mainly Pro’s)

Published

on

A few minor niggles but still a consummate all-rounder – still our favourite enthusiasts’ SLR

Pros
Excellent image quality
Articulated touchscreen
Impressive autofocus in video
Cons
Video quality could be sharper
No headphone socket

The Canon EOS 70D is the company’s latest enthusiast-oriented SLR. It replaces the Canon 60D, and has various enhancements that distinguish it from the likes of the Canon EOS 700D.

The viewfinder is significantly larger, there are lots of single-function buttons, a passive LCD screen on the top plate and a command dial and rear wheel for direct access to exposure settings. It’s faster than both the 700D and the 60D, with a 7fps continuous mode that lasted for 108 JPEGs or 16 RAW frames before slowing to the speed of the card.

Price, specs and rating based on the body-only package

Canon EOS 70D review: What you need to know

If you don’t want to wade through the details, the previous paragraph sums up the Canon EOS 70 pretty well. This is an enthusiast SLR that produces sublime 20.4-megapixel images and excellent video as well. It isn’t the newest SLR around anymore, having been replaced by the 80D, and it’s been discontinued by Canon, but if you can find one, it’s worth considering over some more recent models (see below).

Canon EOS 70D

Canon EOS 70D review: Price and competition

When we originally reviewed the 70D it cost £999 for the body only. It’s now been officially discontinued by the manufacturer and replaced by the Canon EOS 80D and Canon EOS 77D, but you can still buy one from various outlets for around £600 (body only), and for around £880 including an 18-55mm lens kit.

At that price, it’s worth picking one up over the 80D, because the more recent update didn’t move things on enough for us to give it a glowing review. We haven’t tested the Canon EOS 77D yet it looks like it might be a better option. It uses the same sensor as the EOS 80D, has more focus points than the 70D and a higher resolution, and the prices are closer together. The EOS 77D is more expensive than the 70D, though, and it loses the weather sealing of its predecessor as well.

Equally, though, now that the EOS 7D has been replaced by the newer 7D MKII, you can get the original as a body only for less than the 70D. While the 70D has more pixels, an articulated screen and is a newer camera, the 7D has more professionally-minded controls, an LCD display on the top of the body and a lower price.

If you’ve already bought into the Canon lens system and don’t need to buy a body with a kit, the 7D could be a bigger step up in terms of manual controls than the 70D. For everyone else, though, the 70D is a camera still worth considering, despite its age.

Canon EOS 70D review: Phase detect

The 20-megapixel resolution is Canon’s highest to date for an APS-C sensor, and the sensor design is radically different to anything we’ve seen before. Each pixel not only measures the intensity of light, but also the direction, with each one made up of two photodiodes facing left and right. This helps the sensor to perform phase-detect autofocus, determining not just whether the image is in focus, but also, if not, by how much. It means the lens can jump straight into focus rather than shuttle back and forth in search of a sharp picture.

Phase-detect autofocus is already available in all modern SLRs when using their viewfinders, but in most cases it’s disabled in live view mode. The 70D’s ability to perform phase-detect autofocus directly on the sensor makes it much faster than the 60D to focus in live view mode.

We’ve seen this technique a few times before, most recently on the EOS 700D. However, previous implementations have been limited to a few dedicated phase-detect points dotted across the sensor. What’s special about the 70D is that almost every pixel can contribute to phase-detect autofocus. The active area is quoted as 80 per cent of the frame, horizontally and vertically – you can’t place the autofocus point right at the edge of the frame.

Canon EOS 70D

Testing with the 18-135mm STM lens, the benefit was immediately obvious. It took around half a second to focus and capture a photo in live view mode, rising to around one second in low light. That’s twice as fast as the 700D, and about five times faster than the 60D.

It’s a superb result, but we can’t help wondering if it could have been even faster. It typically took less than 0.2 seconds from when we pressed the shutter button to hearing a double-beep to confirm that focus was achieved, but then it took another 0.3 seconds for the shutter mechanism to kick in. Half-pressing to focus and then fully pressing to capture removed this shutter lag, though. We measured 2.1 seconds between shots in live view mode, which is much slower than the 0.4 seconds it achieved when using the viewfinder. It delivered 7fps continuous shooting in live view mode, but focus was fixed and the screen was blank during bursts.

Still, the bottom line is that live view mode is far more useful than on any other Canon (or Nikon or Pentax) SLR. It helps that the screen is articulated, with a side-mounted hinge that allows it to tilt up, down, to the side and right around for self-portraits – a feature that’s conspicuously absent from the Nikon D7100 and Canon and Nikon’s full-frame SLRs.

Canon EOS 70D

The 70D’s screen is touch-sensitive too, so moving the autofocus point in live view mode couldn’t be easier. Subject tracking is available but we weren’t bowled over by its reliability. The touchscreen also speeds up navigation of the Q menu, which gives quick access to a wider array of functions than are covered by the dedicated buttons. The touchscreen provides an alternative way to navigate the main menu, but we found it quicker to use the command dial and rear wheel to jump to a particular setting.

The 70D is fastest when using the viewfinder, so it’s good to see some improvements here too. The 60D’s 9-point autofocus sensor has been ditched in favour of the 19-point sensor first seen in the EOS 7D. All 19 points are cross-type for increased sensitivity, and they were fast and accurate even in extremely low light. There’s a new button next to the command dial for expanding the active area. The largest area encompasses all 19 points, and when used in conjunction with the AI Servo autofocus mode, allows for some basic subject tracking. It can’t match the sophistication of the 3D Tracking mode in the Nikon D7100, though.

Canon EOS 70D review: Wi-Fi and connectivity

Wi-Fi is built in, with the same functions that we saw on the Canon EOS 6D. They include remote control via the accompanying iPhone and Android apps, with access to exposure settings and the ability to move the autofocus point using the smartphone or tablet’s touchscreen. While the 6D had to make do with lethargic live view autofocus, the 70D was much more responsive when shooting remotely. The app can also access the camera’s card to view full-screen previews with EXIF metadata, apply star ratings and instigate transfers.

Canon EOS 70D

We appreciate how both the remote shooting and image browsing modes are accessible without locking up the camera’s controls. Photos appeared in the app within two seconds of being captured, letting us use an iPad to review shots in more detail that the camera’s 3in screen allows. However, previews and transfers are limited to 2.5 megapixels, so it’s not so useful for checking focus. Enabling Wi-Fi disables the USB port and video capture, so a tablet can’t be used as a remote video monitor.

The iOS app worked fine in our tests but we could only connect our Nexus 4 smartphone via an existing network rather than make a direct connection. We’ve heard others have made direct connections with different handsets, but if this is an essential feature to you it might be worth popping along to a retailer and testing it with your own device.

Canon EOS 70D

Canon EOS 70D review: Video

The new autofocus technology is great news for photographers, but it’s potentially even more exciting for videographers. The 70D’s video autofocus was the most responsive we’ve ever seen from a large-sensor camera, adjusting in less than a second when we moved the autofocus point using the touchscreen. There was no sign of focus hunting, and face detection and subject tracking helped us follow moving subjects – although once again, it was a little unreliable.

Even so, when we tapped on a subject to focus on, more often than not, focus would remain locked as it moved nearer or further. We’ve always maintained that manual focus is the only way to achieve polished results, but for the first time, here’s a video autofocus system that we can envisage being used in professional productions. With a choice of 24, 25 or 30fps capture at 1080p, clips up to 30 minutes and an All-Intra mode that encodes at 75Mbit/s to avoid compression artefacts, it all looks pretty promising for serious video production.

It’s a shame, then, that details in the 70D’s videos aren’t a little sharper. Its footage looked decent enough in isolation, but the Panasonic GX7 and Panasonic GH3 were able to resolve fine details with greater fidelity. We also noticed a tendency for moiré interference on repeating textures such as fabric and bricks. The full-frame Canon 5D Mark III showed big improvements in video detail compared to previous EOS cameras, but it seems that these advances haven’t been built into the 70D. We achieved better results by selecting the Neutral Picture Style and sharpening up the footage in software, but this didn’t get rid of the moiré interference.

Canon EOS 70D sample shot

^ It will bother some more than others, but the Panasonic GH3 (left) has a clear advantage over the 70D (second from left) for details in videos. The 70D’s details can be improved by rolling off the sharpness and contrast and then sharpening in software, but it still can’t quite match the GH3 – click to enlarge

Another hurdle for serious video production is the lack of a headphone socket, which limits the usefulness of the microphone input. The HDMI output can stream a live feed but it’s not a clean feed to send to an external recorder. Despite the 70D’s superb autofocus performance, the Panasonic GH3 remains our top choice for video production. The 70D isn’t too far behind, though. For more casual users who still demand high quality, its more responsive video autofocus may tip the balance in its favour.

Continue Reading

Trending