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Published on August 15th, 2012 | by Celina

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Exclusive! Iqua Beat: Audio-Driven Exercise

One of the hard­est things about per­son­al train­ing is be­ing self-mo­ti­vat­ed dur­ing those mo­ments when you’re tired, sore, or just flag­ging from ex­er­tion. And one of the most an­noy­ing parts of many fit­ness gad­gets is their cum­ber­some na­ture, where you need a phone and a sen­sor and some wires and then you need to con­sid­er your mu­sic and han­dle that sep­a­rate­ly. So we were def­i­nite­ly in­ter­est­ed in a new way of help­ing you ex­er­cise, us­ing your iPhone to con­trol and man­age a set of wire­less head­phones that con­tained some sen­sors in­side of them- a nifty com­bi­na­tion of gad­gets that sound­ed in­cred­i­bly use­ful.

That’s the promise of the Iqua Beat A1, a voice-guid­ed per­son­al train­er that us­es Blue­tooth to con­nect to your iPhone (no An­droid or oth­er smart­phone sup­port at the mo­ment), and a cus­tom app that helps you set fit­ness goals, mon­i­tor your ses­sions, and track your progress. The ear­buds con­nect to a fair­ly hefty don­gle that serves as bat­tery pack, step counter and con­trols, and come with a built-in mic so you can make or re­ceive calls while on the go. Plus, they have an in­ter­est­ing ear­lobe at­tach­ment that mea­sure your heart rate!

The hard­ware it­self was de­cent- the ear­buds au­dio and mic voice qual­i­ty are noth­ing spe­cial- a bit fuzzy, no noise iso­la­tion or wind baf­fling make these lit­tle bet­ter than the stock ear­buds, though they do have more com­fort­able tips. The hard­est part was find­ing a way for the don­gle to be sit­u­at­ed com­fort­ably- it does have a nice, sol­id clip, but the cords to the ear­buds aren’t long enough to al­low the don­gle to sit any­where but our col­lars, in which case the mic is left in an odd po­si­tion. The ear­buds them­selves are pret­ty straight-for­ward, though we weren’t sure that the in­frared sen­sor and the odd clips that at­tach to your ear­lobes were prop­er­ly placed.

We turned on the de­vice, found it on our iPhone’s Blue­tooth pair­ing list, and con­nect­ed in­stant­ly with no code need­ed. The bat­tery lev­el of the de­vice shows up as well, and you’re im­me­di­ate­ly prompt­ed to down­load the free app from the App Store. It looks pret­ty sleek, or­ange and very read­able, and de­tect­ed the Iqua Beat be­fore ini­tial­iz­ing some con­fig­u­ra­tion steps. You in­put your age, weight, height, and tar­get heart rates, and al­so can choose from an ac­tiv­i­ty list that in­cludes some ob­vi­ous ones like walk­ing, run­ning, and bi­cy­cling but al­so some more un­usu­al op­tions like ca­noe­ing, Ul­ti­mate Fris­bee, Nordic walk­ing, squash, and even floor­ball. Al­so, the foot­ball they re­fer to is clear­ly what we call soc­cer, but we can’t blame this Eu­ro­pean com­pa­ny.

Of course, none of this mat­ters if the in­for­ma­tion isn’t ac­cu­rate, and we have mixed re­sults: it’s easy-to-use, fun, and fair­ly ac­cu­rate at dis­tances, but the heart rate mea­sure­ments were off across mul­ti­ple peo­ple in sev­er­al ac­tiv­i­ties. We like that the unit is splash-proof and the bat­tery life was de­cent (charg­ing is done via USB), but there weren’t any ob­vi­ous ex­port tools or ways to share or save your work­outs or re­sults. The first time you use the de­vice, the sud­den voice speak­ing to you will cer­tain­ly sur­prise, but we def­i­nite­ly found it use­ful, help­ing us track tim­ings (“Halfway there!”) and en­cour­ag­ing you to push a lit­tle hard­er if your heart rate is low (or the de­tec­tor thinks it is). Slick, well-de­signed, and very rea­son­ably priced, this is a great com­peti­tor to some of the oth­er of­fer­ings that we’ve seen, es­pe­cial­ly con­sid­er­ing the lack of sub­scrip­tion fees (eat your heart out, Body­Media Fit). Of course, you do get what you pay for, and that means no cloud sup­port or on­line com­po­nents. It’s not yet avail­able wide­ly here in the US, but their on­line store should be up soon, and the price ap­pears to be around $180.

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About the Author

Celina Kelly is passionate about New York, scarves, and puppies. She also loves writing about herself in the third-person. She graduated from Barnard College having double majored in English & German Literature. While a student, she worked with The New Yorker as part of the editorial department for ‘Goings On About Town’. Since she was not busy enough, she added a concentration of creative writing, completing her thesis project in the form of a yet-unpublished novel under the guidance of a bestselling author. Celina operates a retail store on the Upper West Side, where she spends most of her time. She enjoys being able to design, order and merchandise a new collection twice a year with the help of a talented staff of minions. She is also currently pursuing a certificate in Millinery at the Fashion Institute of Technology. If you ask her nicely, she might make you a hat!



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