Will the AIRO Health-Monitoring Wristband Kill the Activity Tracker?

AIRO wearable tech

The fitness bracelet is back. It hasn’t been since 2004 that I’ve seen so many people sporting a rubber band on their wrist in the name of health. Of course, back then it was a yellow LIVESTRONG bracelet merely meant as a statement. Today’s version is a digital activity tracker that lights up with LEDs and connects to your phone to monitor your daily activity.

There are a number of activity trackers on the market today. Nike, Fitbit, Jawbone and Misfit Wearables are all vying for a spot on your wrist with their wearables, and that’s just to name a few. All of these devices measure your movement and allow you to quantify yourself in terms of steps, points or calories burned.

The problem with most of today’s activity trackers is that steps are a very limited view of your health and fitness. Although these devices are great motivators, they don’t really serve any more value than the old school pedometers you may have used before you had an iPhone.

Some of the activity trackers are trying to be more. Many let users tag activities, journal their food and even monitor their sleep. But most of the value-added features require manual involvement which never bodes well for their use for the average user.

KW startup, Airo Health, has no interest in bringing another pedometer to the table. Their new health-monitoring wristband, AIRO, automatically monitors nutrition, stress, exercise and sleep. The wristband is the first of a new breed of wearable devices which looks to measure overall health rather than just keep track of activity. Its launch today could potentially be a precursor to an early death of the activity tracker which is just starting to get some traction.

Unlike others on the market, AIRO uses a spectrometer and heart rate monitor to intimately understand how your body is doing and then provide insights and recommendations based on you rather than your movement.

“We see ourselves building a tool to help people live more proactively,” Abhilash Jayakumar, co-founder and CEO of Airo Health told BetaKit. “We all know that current activity trackers are great at getting people off the couch, but there is a lot more than to just tracking your steps or even just your heart rate. We are tracking your nutrition, stress, exercise and sleep all in one platform.”

The AIRO wristband can tell when you start and finish your meals, how much you’ve eaten and even how healthy your meal was. The bracelet does this by looking at your blood to gauge the nutritional and caloric content of your last meal. This is made possible with the use of a spectrometer which uses different wavelengths of light to detect metabolites that are released into your bloodstream during digestion.

Stress, exercise and sleep all use the wristband’s heart rate monitor. AIRO utilizes heart rate variability (HRV) to monitor micro-fluctuation in stress throughout your day. And monitors daily exertion through heart rate and caloric burn.

Outside of the individual insights in each of these four areas, what really sets AIRO apart is its ability to integrate multiple data points to help provide you with recommendations based on your overall health. If AIRO sees that you are stressed, for example, it may look to see if you have been getting enough sleep, exercise or food to provide suggestions to chill you out.

“AIRO is transforming the wearable health industry, and we’re excited to give consumers the ability to monitor their wellbeing in a way that has never before been possible,” said Jayakumar.

All of AIRO’s recommendations and insights will be accessible in a companion app which Airo Health will launch when they ship the product. The app will support both Android and iOS devices. The wristband will send the data it collects to the app using Bluetooth, a pretty common setup for this type of wearable device. Jayakumar told BetaKit that AIRO is expected to have a battery life of up to seven days although they are working on improving this. Seven days is shorter than some of the others in this space which see up to ten days of power.

The AIRO wristband is available for pre-order now on Airo Health’s website at a launch price of $149. The first batch of devices are expected to ship in the Fall of 2014.

Tom Emrich

Tom Emrich

Tom leads a double life as a freelance consultant and writer focusing on mobile, tablets and emerging technology. An early adopter since childhood, he blames his need to play with the latest in tech on a severe case of FOMO and a wide-eyed fascination that the future is unfolding right before our very eyes. He has recently embarked on a wearable tech journey as one of few Google Glass Explorers in Canada and is one step closer to becoming an outright cyborg.