Fast, Fit and Fertile. Bluetooth low energy spurs innovation.

The potential of Bluetooth low energy was eloquently demonstrated at this week’s ISPOO conference in Germany, when the winners of the first year of the Bluetooth Innovation World Cup awards were announced.  The competition has been running for the last year, inviting individuals and companies to submit ideas for new sports and fitness products that will be made possible by the new Bluetooth low energy standard.

Personal fitness featured high in the range of proposals, as illustrated in those from finalists Lisa Durlam and Patrick Coulbourne.  Lisa and her team at Swimovate have come up with a Bluetooth enabled watch for swimmers.  Accelerometers within the watch monitor the swimmer’s movement, and from that calculates their speed, number of strokes, calories burned and distance swum during each session.  At the end of the swim, it connects to the swimmer’s mobile phone an uploads the data to the internet.

 Patrick doesn’t like his water wet – he prefers it in its frozen form and has been applying Bluetooth low energy to a range of interactive snowsport equipment.  His company – Flare Snowsport, has made an innovative use of Bluetooth low energy’s advertising capabilities to send geo-positional information, along with trail information as skiers pass by.  The information is captured by a personal clip worn by the skier, which can also capture information from a heart rate, temperature and blood pressure monitor.  At the end of the day, the skier can upload the data to their personal website.

 Moving away from sports, Michael Kohler of Edumotion made the finals with a fertility monitoring device.  The miniature device uses a thermopile to measure a women’s core body temperature, sending the data to be analysed to predict her optimal time for conception.  Such a device needs to be small and lightweight if it is to be comfortable to wear and unobtrusive.  The high level of integration in Bluetooth low energy chips means that personal sensors can be made that are not significantly larger than the coin cell that powers them.

But the ultimate winner was Edward Sazanov of Physical Activity Innovations.  His Fit Companion clips to your shoes and monitors your movement during the day.  It’s bright enough to recognise your posture, as well as whether you’re moving and how fast.  It sends the data to an application on your phone, prompting you whenever it thinks you’re, it moves beyond veering into couch potato territory.  By looking at overall behaviour it move significantly beyond current devices like pedometers to give a broader view of a user’s lifestyle.

This year’s awards were part of an ongoing competition.  If you’ve got a good idea, log onto the participation website and tell the Bluetooth SIG how you can change the world.