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David Zax

A View from David Zax

A Heads-Up Display for Athletes

They’re not just for fighter pilots anymore.

  • October 26, 2011

If you’re a data junkie when it comes to your exercise, you’ve probably moved well beyond the finger-on-wrist technique for monitoring your heart rate. Cyclists, for instance, often like to measure heart rate, speed, cadence, and power all at once. The only problem is, if you’re on a bicycle, it’s hardly the safest thing to be peering down at a smart phone or wrist monitor to check on your progress.

A Canadian company, 4iiii Innovations, thinks it has the answer. It’s developed the first heads-up display for athletes, called Sportiiiis. (Gizmag says that’s supposed to be pronounced “Sport-Eyes”; good luck to the company on convincing consumers of that!) The device can be mounted to just about any pair of sport sunglasses. When mounted, it presents a series of seven LEDs in front of your eyes, ranging from red on either side to green in the middle. Is your heart rate lower than your goal? A red or yellow light will light up on the left. Is it too high? A red or yellow light will light up on the right. Just right? Then a green light will reassure you that you’re right on track.

You can of course program the device to tell it what your optimal heart rate, speed, and so on are. And if you change your mind on the fly, you can reprogram it at any moment with an iPhone or Android app. How does the device get its data to begin with? It can be paired with ANT+ devices, familiar to “personal wellness” data fiends. One other neat feature of the device is a simple mode-toggling feature; with a tingle tap to the side of the glasses, you can switch just which metric you’re monitoring. A double tap switches between paired sensors.

The device isn’t out just yet–its site says it’s “Starting at $199” and will be available in November. It also promises to sell various accessories, including a combined speed/cadence sensor, a heart rate sensor, and a foot pod sensor.

To someone like me, who is just ecstatic if he can convince himself to take a jog around the block, such a device is more than superfluous. But it does comfort me to know that some of the intense cyclists zooming around me will be able to keep their eyes on the road even while they get their latest data fix.

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