Amiigo: Your Techie Fitness Friend

We debuted Technology Thursday, here on the PricePlow Blog with a look at The Atlas Wristband Fitness tracker. We’re back this week with another mobile fitness tracker intended to take your fitness monitoring to a new level with the Amiigo.

Amiigo Wristband & Shoe Clip

Amiigo is another of the new wave fitness trackers that will record several biometrics.

What is it?

The Amiigo is a wrist and shoelace duo, so it can monitor and record both upper and lower body movements. Depending on the type of exercise or activity you’re performing, you wear just the wristband or just the shoe clip or both the wristband and the shoe clip.

For example, if you’re swimming you wear just the wristband, but if you’re cycling, you wear just the shoe clip. For total body activities like cross-training and weightlifting, you wear both the wristband and the shoe clip.

Amiigo’s wristband uses a 3-axis accelerometer, temperature sensor and pulse oximeter. A pulse oximeter measure your blood oxygen saturation levels and your pulse rate. The wristband is powered by a lithium polymer battery that has a 2-day life span and is able to be charged wirelessly.

The shoe clip also uses a 3-axis accelerometer and temperature sensor. Like the wristband, it is powered by a lithium polymer battery, but it has a 5-day battery life.

Amiigo can track nearly any repetitive motion (e.g. kettlebell swings, rowing, squats) and gets smarter the more it’s used. Similar to the voice recognition software in your cell phone, Amiigo uses reference data it compiles to identify which activity you perform, how many reps you do, duration of an exercise as well as form and consistency.

Why two sensors?

There are an unlimited amount of ways to exercise. Take the seemingly simple push up. You have normal hand width, military (elbows tucked to your sides), wide, diamond (thumb and index finger touching. On top of that, everyone will look a tad bit different when performing the movement as well!

Rather than try to automatically recognize and categorize your movement, users “train” or “teach” the Amiigo to identify the individual way you perform a particular exercise. When teaching the Amiigo a new movement, you perform it for 30 seconds, doing at least eight reps and then you label the exercise. Afterwards, Amiigo will automatically recognize the exercise you are performing and the number of reps you do, no matter where or when you do that particular exercise in your workout program.

Additional Features

The Amiigo does more than just track your squat reps and sets, it features:

Amiigo Sleep Metrics

Amiigo will record a number of metrics while you sleep and provide you a hypnogram displaying the types and duration of different types of sleep.

  • Sleep Tracking

    To track your sleep, you wear only the wristband. This isn’t an automatic feature of Amiigo, you must open the app on your smartphone and enable the sleep tracking function for the night, as well as end it in the morning. Once you’ve ended it, the wristband syncs via bluetooth to the app which then analyzes the data that was obtained during the night.

    In addition to tracking the total duration of sleep, Amiigo also displays a hypnogram (visual sleep chart) for each session, with blue marking time awake, light purple indicating “light sleep,” and dark pumple for “deep sleep,” a.k.a. REM sleep.

    Below the chart, various metrics are displayed indicating total REM sleep, total light sleep, average heart rate, number of REM segments and an overall sleep score that will provide a rough overview of the quality of your night’s rest.

    Amiigo collects all of this data by monitoring specific changes in your heart rate, breathing rate, body movement, and a variety of other metrics. It logs this information once every 20 minutes, then once you sync it with the app in the morning, the data is analyzed and you can view the hypnogram and other information just mentioned.

  • Other Metrics

    Although Amiigo will capture your a variety of your biometrics, most of these are only captured during your sleep. The exception to this are resting heart rate data and the calorie burn rate, which are recorded and calculated for the duration of you wearing the band. However, the resting heart rate is typically only tracked while you are at “rest” meaning not during any time of movement or exercise.

    The metrics are displayed as a single number each day as opposed to a continuous line graph with minute by minute or hour by hour markings. This single number represents the range, percent variation, min value, max value or overall average depending on which metric you are looking at.

Any Drawbacks?

The main downside is that Amiigo’s sleep tracking is not automatic or continuous. It collects the nightly biometrics in intervals of once every 20 minutes. This means the band may not record the exact start and end time of certain sleep cycles. Additionally, it may not capture any biometrics at all if used to track a quick “cat nap” during the day.

Finally, the band could pop off of your wrist and therefore wouldn’t record any metrics during the night and then you’d still have to remember to turn off the sleep monitoring function after you find the band tucked in your sheets come morning time.

Is It Worth It?

Let’s face it, when it comes to recording your workouts on a piece of paper or on your smartphone, most people won’t take the time to do it. Sure they put in lots of work during the actual workout but rarely put the same effort into logging all parameters of their exercise. All of that effort goes to waste if you’re not continually monitoring and checking where you need to increase weight or reps or sets. Amiigo and others like it take all the hassle out of the equation and automatically record everything for you.

Amiigo Biometrics

Amiigo will record the number of sets and how many repetitions you perform for a wide variety of exercises once it learns your particular movement patterns.

Here’s the bottom line. If it works as advertised, Amiigo makes exercise more convenient, accessible, and productive. It simplifies one more aspect of your incredibly hectic life, which is always welcome.

The data collected by any of these devices is an estimate at best. However, it’s not pulled out of thin air, but derived from actual readings and algorithms from your body. The accuracy of a given metric is going to depend on a number of factors including frequency of the readings, accuracy of the sensor, interference caused by the particular movement you are performing, how the device is worn and the actual algorithm the device uses for calculation.

This doesn’t mean the device is useless, it just means it’s like MyFitnessPal or any other calorie counter, it provides an estimate on your total calorie burn, heart rate, etc. It will never be 100% accurate. It takes some of the guess work out of fitness and streamlines logging for exercise which are always good things.

Early Reviews

Preliminary reviews of Amiigo give it high marks for the wide diversity of actions and biometrics it can record. Various users have also reported that it seems to be better at measuring total steps, calorie burn, and heart rate as compared to single point monitoring devices such as traditional heart rate monitors or pedometers.

Negatives mentioned include the “brain” slipping out of the wristband and the band slipping off during sleep.

But what about for weightlifting

Therein lies the rub.

The most common complaint seems to be the lack of on-device feedback while performing any sort of exercise to let you know how close you are to reaching a certain goal (sets, reps, weight lifted).

Finally, a few have mentioned that the charge time seems long given that the battery life lasts only 2 days.

Tried one?

Have you tried one of these devices? If so, write in and tell us your personal experience with any of the devices we’ve covered or point out which ones we should look into!

Thanks for tuning in for this week’s Tech Thursday and be sure to sign up for updates from PricePlow here:

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About the Author: Mike Roberto

Mike Roberto

Mike Roberto is a research scientist and water sports athlete who founded PricePlow. He is a biohacker with extensive experience in supplementation and dietary modification, whose personal expertise stems from several "n=1" experiments done on himself.

Mike's goal is to bridge the gap between nutritional research scientists and non-academics who seek to better their health in a system that has catastrophically failed the public.

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