According to MOOV, there is too much tissue in your wrist to get an accurate reading of your heart rate. Your head offers a much better opportunity for reading a persons’ heart rate. For many people, tracking footsteps alone is no longer enough. Nowadays, it is all about measuring your workout intensity and heart rate throughout the day, and unfortunately wrist-based wearables are not very accurate at measuring this.
The MOOV HR promises heart rate monitoring comparable to that of the electrocardiogram (EKG) — the current gold standard for heart rate measurement — and it does this by measuring straight from the forehead instead. Previous versions of the MOOV HR were worn around the ankle or the wrist. The new MOOV HR stores a sensor in either a forehead sweatband (for most activities) or a swim cap. The device, unlike a Fitbit or a Jawbone, works more like an artificial intelligence coach than a fitness tracker. Perhaps the main sell here is that you can pick a workout from the app and get real-time feedback on how you are performing. When synced with the app, MOOV HR will show heart rate data both in the beats-per-minute number as well as as a continuous wave.
Most wearables monitor heart rate using LED lights embedded inside the device. The lights reflect on the skin to detect the pulse and changes in blood volume; this information is turned into a heart rate number. Watches certainly are convenient, but studies have suggested that the wrist is not a good place for taking accurate measurements.
“On the wrist there are so many layers of tissue, so when the heart pumps the blood to the area, the signal is noisy,” says co-founder of MOOV Nikola Hu. In contrast, he says, the skin at the temples is much thinner, so it creates a much clearer signal that can be picked up by the sensor in the sweatband or swim cap. He continues on to explain that you can also measure accurately at the fingertips and ears but it is equally important that good measurement is balanced with convenience.
A sweatband should also be more accurate because it is in constant contact with the skin. Depending on how tightly you wear a wrist tracker, it can slip up and down when you move your arms. Any gap between the sensor and the skin can cause an inaccuracy. According to researchers, this is one of the main reasons accuracy goes down when people work out harder; most people move their arms more as intensity increases. With a headband, there is no gap in a sensor attached to a sweatband.
The MOOV HR is part of a wave of wearables that are moving away from simply counting steps. “To have a really good, effective workout we need to get to a certain intensity. Just walking steps or staying in a very low heart-rate zone is not really going to help if I want to lose weight or improve my cardiovascular health,” says Meng Li, another MOOV co-founder. Of course, researchers suggest that both are important: steady movement for overall health, and intense workouts to increase cardiovascular fitness.
The MOOV HR is now available for $60.00.
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