Price: £200 including international shipping
If fitness trackers and sports bands are anything to go by all you’d think people do is walk, run and swim. Those who like to stay fit by doing high intensity training or pressing weights have to usually select an option like “freestyle” which might detect some general movement and change in heart rate but never really detect the level of exertion the user was undergoing or what movements they were making. The Atlas Wristband aims to change all that.
It pairs two ARM M4 processors with a 3 axis accelerometer and 3 axis gyroscope and an optical heart rate monitor. The creators of the device use the data from these sensors and feed them into their Atlas Engine. This engine has been trained to recognise the unique 3D movements that occur in the arm and wrist as the person is exercising and match this to the 50 exercises ( for now ) stored in its database. There is Coach mode which you select a pre-set routine on your phone and transfer it to the device or Freestyle mode. In Freestyle mode you can choose up-to 15 different exercises from a list of 50 and transfer them to your device. You can then do them in any order you wish and the Atlas will detect what you’re doing and how many reps.
The device should be worn on the left wrist as this was the way the programmes were created. In time it’s hoped the option to wear on the right wrist will come and if you buy the band you’ll be given the option to send your data to Atlas Sweat Lab which will gather user data to further improve tracking and exercise recognition. It’s a great feature that should see the product improve over time.
The central module containing the sensors is detachable and must be removed from the band allow charging via micro USB.
Whilst the design is a little odd the style aspect isn’t as great a problem as most trackers or smartwatches as this isn’t designed to be worn all day. You can keep it on your wrist to tell the time but currently it won’t be tracking your movements, steps and heart rate throughout the day. The intention was always that it works for one hour workouts and it should last for 7 days if used like this. Turning it off in between will further conserve power.
Most of the time whilst working out you’re interacting on the fly with your device. Maybe you’re skipping a set as you know you’ve maxed out or perhaps increasing the weight with each set. You will still need to use your phone to sync your activity to the Atlas app before and after a workout. The app interface looks nicely designed. It’s focused on the exercises you are doing, and the map of your body and muscles lets you see what you’re working out. Perhaps more importantly it lets you see what areas you are overlooking. The app also contains videos of how to correctly perform all the exercises and following these correctly will help improve the accuracy of the tracking too.
The fantastic thing is that you can try out the software and get a feel for how the device will work using a separate app called Atlas Engine. It’s currently free in the Google Play Store and App Store and all you need is your phone and an armband to strap it securely to your left bicep.
The company is looking to add other common exercises like running too which will make it much more flexible as a general fitness device.
The future of this device is interesting as if it’s a success I would not be surprised to see this company snatched up by one of the tech giants. Incorporating this software and hardware into the Apple Watch or Wear devices would bring us one step closer to a genuinely useful universal health tracker.