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Posts Tagged ‘hrm’

TW68 Smart Bracelet Measures Blood Pressure and Heart Rate for $22 and Up

August 8th, 2016 5 comments

Some people may need to frequently measure their blood pressure because of their health condition, but it’s often a cumbersome experience, so they may get lazy, and not do it as often as needed. TW68 smart bracelet should make this easy, as it’s your typical fitness tracker with an heart rate monitor, but adding the capability to also measure blood pressure. It’s also very cheap, and I first found it on DealExtreme where it sells for just $24.

TW68TW68 specifications:

  • MCU – Nordic Semi NRF51822 ARM Cortex M0 micro-controller with 2.4 GHz radio
  • Data Storage – 7 days detailed data, 23 days total data
  • Connectivity – Bluetooth 4.0 LE
  • Display – 0.49″ OLED display
  • Sensors –  PixArt-PAH8001EI blood pressure sensor; 6-axis Invensense-MPU6500 accelerometer and gyroscope
  • Function Health tracker: Blood pressure measurement, Heart rate monitor, Pedometer, Sleep tracker
  • Other functions: Call/Message notification, Fall reminder, Social sharing, Time, Alarm clock
  • Misc – Vibrator, touch button
  • Battery – 60 mAh LiPo battery good for 7 to 15 days; charge time: around 1h30; magnetic charging
  • Dimensions – Watch face: 41.1 x 18.5 x 11.9mm; silicon strap: 240 x 20.8 x 11.9mm
  • Weight – 25 grams
  • IP Rating – IP65 (waterproof while washing hands)

The smartband is sold with its custom USB charging cable, and a user’s manual. The provided app is compatible with Android 4.4+ and iOS 7.1+ smartphones. I’ve been told that the blood pressure data is not shown directly on the watch, so you’ll need to initiate and read the measurement with your Android smartphone or iPhone, which is not as convenient as it could be.

Blood_Pressure_Monitor_Android

This all still looks pretty good, but based on my disappointing experiences with optical heart rate monitors on most Chinese smartwatches and trackers, except possibly with Energympro EP-SH09 (not perfect but usable), I have serious doubts about the heart rate monitor accuracy, let alone the blood pressure claims.  If you look at the product description on DX, the manufacturer claims the measurements are very close to professional equipments… But the embedded Pixart “blood pressure sensor” is actually an heart rate monitor, and the sensor manufacturer only claims heart rate capabilities, nothing about blood pressure.

Finally, if you look at the upcoming and FDA approved Omron BP6000 professional blood pressure watch it is designed with a small motor that will gently squeeze your wrist while taking measurements, something that TW68 won’t do. So it’s most likely a toy than anything else. The demo from Tinydeal below shows the accessories and some of the capabilities of the bracelet, except of course HRM and BP…

If you’d still like to play with it, beside DX, you can also buy it on GeekBuying, Aliexpress, Amazon US and Tinydeal for $22 to $30 shipped.

Review of Xiaomi Mi Band 2 Activity Tracker

June 27th, 2016 10 comments

I’ve been using Xiaomi Mi Band 2 for a little over two weeks now, so I’m not ready to report my findings, and the results are mixed. If you are interesting in checking out the accessories, and physical aspect of the watch, feel free to read Xiaomi Mi Band 2 unboxing post first.

Since the new model adds an OLED display, let’s first see what options it has to offer. The display is off by default, and pressing the capacitive touch button (please note that it’s not a real physical button, so it won’t work with most gloves for example) will turn on the display for 5 seconds. You can keep pressing to go through time, step count, distance, calories burnt, heart rate monitor, and battery level.

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Except for time, there’s a icon shown before display the actual value. If you find that the display does not look clear, that’s because despite its IP67 ingress protection rating, humidity made it into the display, and all I did was washing hands and taking shower during the two weeks of testing. The issue only happened yesterday, so if possible you may consider taking it off before shower, and be careful when washing hands.

Xiaomi_Mi_Band_2_Humidity

Humidity inside Mi Band 2

Just like other devices with OLED displays, it’s barely readable under sunlight, as you can see from the picture below. If you click on the picture, and zoom in you’ll find out the time is shown.

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If you click on the picture, and zoom in you’ll find out the time is shown. So you’d have to make some shadow with your other hand in order to read  the display under sunlight. One good point is the algorithm that will automatically turns the display on for 5 seconds when you lift your arm. There are few false positive, and it works 80% of the time for me, the other 20% of the time I either press the button to check the time, or lift my arm again.

You’ll need to install Mi Fit app for Android in order to synchronize time and fitness data between the tracker and your phone. At first, I was unable to pair Mi Band 3 with my Mediatek phone, but after making Bluetooth discoverable in my phone, the connection worked smoothly.

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The first screen shows the number of steps, last night sleep pattern, your weight evolution (only if target is set), the last hear rate measurement, and the last 10 days step count goals. You can click on each item to get more info, including daily, weekly, and monthly statistics, sleep data, etc…

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The “Play” button on the main menu is actually redirecting to settings, where you can set notifications for calls, SMS, apps, and sit alert, as well as define alarms.

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Call, and apps notifications worked well for me, but somehow SMS did not. Sit alert allows for 60, 90 and 120 minutes of inactivity before being triggered, while you can set three alarms, that will vibrate in 4 or 5 sequences of 3 vibrations, before snoozing and repeating the process again in 10 minutes. The app can also work with WeChat, Google Fit, and Sina Weibo, but since I don’t use any of those services I have not tried. You should also be able to use Mi Band 2 to unlock your phone, but it requires Android 5.0 or greater, and my phone is still running Android 4.4.

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The profile section will show your details, total stats, connected band(s), and allow you to set some options such as activity goals in steps, other notifications, and some settings such as metric, imperial or Chinese units for length and weight. If you click on “Mi Band 2” in Profile, you’ll get more info about the band, firmware, and one feature I particularly appreciate: “Mi Band display settings” to select with items are displayed on the watch. I’m only interested in Time, Steps and remaining Battery , so that’s what I’ve enabled.

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But let’s go back to the main menu. If you tap on the top right corner you’ll get another summary of your daily activity, as well as options to share it on social networks.

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Tapping on “Heart Rate” will bringing a window saying “Fasten your band, don’t move”, a little strange since the most interesting part of hear rate monitors (HRM) is to check your hear beat during activity, but I tapped on “Got it” and a few seconds later I got a measurement. I tried several times, and in most cases it was pretty similar to the results I got with Energympro EP-SH09 fitness tracker.

Another way to get your heart rate is to simply cycle through on the watch until you get to the heart icon, and wait for a few seconds to get your heart rate. One downside of Xiaomi Mi Band 2 HRM is that it will only take one measurement, and continuous measurement is not an option. So when I went running, I planned to just tap from time to time to check it out. However, it would fail time and time again (the screen shows — x), and after 20 attempts I gave up during the run, but I repeat the test while a cool-down walk, and again it did not work at all. Back in the car, I could finally get a proper measurement, so it appears Mi Band 2 invalidates HRM measurement is your are not still. Please note that I was holding my arm straight and close to my chest while walking and running, so the “Don’t move” message is to be followed seriously. Those results unfortunately make the HRM on Mi Band 2 nothing more than a useless gimmick.

I’m very satisfied with step counts however, as results are reproducible, and realistic with for example, 4,500 steps for a 4km run, and 2,300 steps for a 2km walk. Battery life is very good, although I did not get 20 days, I still manage to get 14 days on a charge. I did not enable phone and app notifications during the week, and battery went from 100% to 70% the first 7 days, I then enabled Skype, Facebook messenger, and phone call notifications, and the battery seemed to handle this very well, but for unexplained reasons the 12th day the battery dropped from 39% in the morning to 19% in the evening. You’ll start to get an icon on the watch when battery falls below 10%, and I decided it was time to charge the tracker on the 14th day when it dropped to 5%. The complete charge took just above 2 hours.

You can see the Mi Band 2 in action in the video review below.

Some of the advantages and drawbacks for Xiaomi Mi Band 2:

  • PRO
    • Activity tracking (step count) is working well
    • OLED display allows you to follow progress without smartphone
    • Most features work reasonably well including sleep monitoring, phone and apps notifications, alarm, etc…
    • The display can be turned on automatically by lifting your arm (worked around 80% of time for me)
    • Custom selection of items shown on display
    • Very good battery life, around 2 weeks in my case
  • CONS
    • Useless heart rate monitor that does not support continuous monitoring, and only works when you do not move
    • OLED display is rather dim outdoor, especially in direct sunlight
    • IP67 rating can not be trusted, as humidity infiltrated the tracker, even though I only took showers and washed hands (no bath, no swimming).
    • Capacitive touch button won’t work with (thick) gloves, or with wet hands, and may be triggered by flowing water/rain.
    • SMS notifications did not work for me

I’d like to thank GeatBest for sending a review sample, and if you are interested you can purchase Mi Band 2 on their website for $33.91 with coupon GBMI2. Other sellers include GeekBuying, Amazon US, and a few other alternatives.

Energympro EP-SH09 Fitness Tracker Review

June 17th, 2016 8 comments

Energympro EP-SH09 is a strapless fitness tracker with an heart rate monitor and Bluetooth 4.0 LE for synchronization with your smartphone, in the first part of the review, I took some picture of the device, and expressed my opinion about the build quality. I’ve now played close to two weeks with the tracker, so I can share my experience with the device. Bear in mind that this was still considered an engineering sample, so the company will likely on some of the issues I encountered before it ships to the general public or resellers.

A capacitive touch area just under the display is used to cycle through 7 watch faces: Time, Date, Bluetooth (Icon will change to a chain when connected), step count, distance, calorie count, and heart rate monitor.

Energympro_EP-SH09

It works well enough, but there are a couple of point that you may want to be aware. The display will stay on for about 15 seconds after the last touch, and remember the last face. It’s very nice if you are running, and want to periodically check your heart rate status, and a single press with show the current heart rate if that’s the one you’ve selected before. However, this become an inconvenience when you just want to watch the time, as you may have to cycle through several watch faces before getting accessing it. One way to work around this would be to enabled / disable watch faces within the app, as for example I personally don’t really care about distance and calorie count.

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Another issue common to all OLED display is poor visibility under bright light. The picture above was taken taken under bright clouds with the time displayed, and if click to access the full size picture you’ll see very dim battery level and numbers on the area with the camera shadow. So it’s basically unreadable under such conditions, unless you place your hand over the display. An e-paper display is the best for those conditions, but then at night it would require a backlight.

Since the button area is using what looks like capacitive touch technology it won’t work with thick gloves (thin ones should be OK), and if you exercise under rainy conditions you may have to wipe the area before using it. I don’t find this to be a big issue at all, but still something to keep in mind. By the way, the tracker is IP67 rated and I’ve kept it while washing my hands and taking showers, and humidity has not come through.

One of the first thing you want to do is install Smart Movement app for iOS or Android, and I did so on Iocean M6752 smartphone based on a Mediatek processor and running Android 4.4. Since it’s relying on BT 4.0 communication, you’ll need a phone with Android 4.3 or greater.

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After tapping on the first screen, EP-SH09 should show in “Lock Fitness Tracker”, and Bluetooth “Connecting”, should then be followed with “Synchronizing” to set the time and date automatically, and retrieve fitness data. It works fine, but takes a little longer than expected, maybe 30 seconds to one minute.

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You’ll then have four sections in the app:

  • Movement with calorie and step counts, as well as estimated distance, and a chart for the day.
  • Heart Rate which will show real-time and recorded heart rate chart
  • Sleep to report whether your sleep last night was bad, normal or well.
  • Me with settings and various extra options

The step count appears to be quite reliable, although different devices may report activity in different manner, and for example I’m not wearing both Xiaomi Mi Band 3 and EP-SH09, and the two have different options of my level of activity. The former normally count more steps when I’m busy at home taking care of daily life tasks, while after a walk, I noticed the Xiaomi band reported 1,533 steps against 1,285 steps for the Energympro one. The picture below shows the tally on both devices after a day.

xiaomi_mi_band_2_vs_energympro_ep-sh09Variations are expected between devices as after all they just use motion sensors and algorithm to estimate the step count. The important part is that the band behavior is constant over the days, and I can confidently say EP-SH09 does the job, and you can adjust your goal as you see fit.

I’m not so sure about sleep monitoring however, as all my nights were reported to be “Bad”. While it might have been true for some, but I don’t feel it was the case for most.

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The Me section has some important information and features starting with My Profile to report your gender, age, weight and height, which should affect the step count, and setting activity levels for the HRM. Call and message reminders are use to display the caller ID and vibrate when you get a call or receive an SMS, and the feature works as expected with one caveat that in my phone at least, the app will not always run in the background, and get killed. I have not found a way around this yet. Smart Alarm Clock will allow you to set up to three silent alarms that will vibrate at the given time. I’ve tried it, and the alarm works, but it seems to stop pretty quickly. So if I ever use I setup a “silent alarm” on the watch, and a “noisy alarm” on my phone two minutes later… Remote Camera just does what it is expected to go, i.e. acting as a remote for your phone camera. Other settings allow you to enable/disable touch vibration, scanning background (to auto-reconnect in case of disconnection, which I recommend), date and time settings, language, heart rate setting to optionally define alarms for minimum and maximum bpm, and keep the display on (Long Bright mode) when the heart rate is enabled.

The heart rate monitor is the most interesting part of this fitness band, as it allows continuous tracking during sports activities. You can enable the heart by either pressing three second on the touch area, or going to the heart rate section of the app and press Start. As you can see from the screenshot on the top right above, it will show the current hear rate plus a chart for the recent activity. If you tap the touch area for three seconds again, the HRM will stop.

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You’ll then have recordings with nice looking charts are shown above. During the first two, I simply worked in the garden for about 30 minutes, and the last one was a short 2km run. Let’s go through all three.

  • Activity 1 – I just dugged soil and pulled out some grass with hands, so the activity level was not too high, and that’s shown correctly in the chart, however, you can see some times when the heart rate dropped to as low as 41 bpm, which can’t be… I was old to try not to place the tracker too close from the wrist, and move it a little higher and the forearm.
  • Activity 2 – So I did so, and doing the same kind of work in the garden, and it started well, but there was a sudden drop for a couple of minutes to around 50 to 60 bpm, before recovery. You’ll also notice two red bar, that’s because the Bluetooth connection was lost, and after recovery I had two sets of data for one 30 minute activity.
  • Activity 3 – Two kilometer run at the stadium. I normally start a little slowly, then increase the pace steadily, until the end when I run as fast as I can, and the chart shows just that with the peak at the end followed by the cool down period when I walk and my heart rate comes down. Very good results here. The value also seem realistic with 160 bpm to 180 bpm during the run.

So overall the heart rate monitor appear to work much better than the one on other smartwatches I’ve tested so far, but there are still some issues for unexplained dropped, and sometimes Bluetooth disconnections, which might be normal, but it would be nice if the app could still merge the two set of data together.

I wanted to compare the data of fitness trackers to a cheststrap HRM for my reviews, and I bought one a few months ago, only to find out it required the ANT+ protocol which my phone cannot handle.  The company however provides some chart comparing EP-SH09 data to the one of an Ant+ chest strap displayed in Turtle Sport open source program.Energympro_EP-SH09_vs_Chest_strap_HRM_1The first one shows basically the same pattern, while the second one is pretty similar, but for some reasons the chest strap one does have some spikes.

Energympro_EP-SH09_vs_Chest_strap_HRM_2 But overall it looks pretty good. They’ve also told me they plan to add CSV export for the data, which should be a plus for people wanting to keep track of their data over time.

A few last words about battery life. The company claims 36 hours with HRM on, and 6 days without HRM, and in my experience I found it to last 4 to 5 days on a charge. Energympro EP-SH09 is not a bad device, and actually it’s been the I’ve tested best so far with the heart rate monitor and corresponding app, but as explained in the review above, there are still some small issues that need to be addressed.

The company has now listed the product on their website, starting at $30 with local pickup in Montreal or Taipei, $40 with shipping by China post registered airmail, and $48 with shipping by Fedex.

Xiaomi Mi Band 2 Fitness Tracker Unboxing

June 13th, 2016 9 comments

Xiaomi started selling Xiaomi Mi Band 2 fitness tracker with an OLED display last week in China for 149 CNY (~$23), but it can also be purchased overseas with the many online resellers, and one of them, GearBest sent me a sample for review, and sells it for $33.91 with coupon GBMI2 once oversea shipping, currency conversion, and possibly some margins are included. Today, I’ll start by taking some pictures of the devices and its accessories, before writing a review in a couple of weeks after testing the device features and battery life.

I received the device in a typical Mi package, and GearBest also included a User service card to encourage people leaving feedback, and helping with returns and issues. That’s the first time I receive this card, so maybe GearBest is trying to improve their customer service.

Xiaomi_mi_Band_2_Package_Gearbest_return

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The product is definitely geared towards the Chinese market, as the specifications are shown in Chinese on the back of the package. The SKU is MGW4022CN, which could be useful to differentiate between China mainland, and international (if any) versions in the future.
Xiaomi_Mi_Band_2_Specifications
The tracker ships with a rubber wristband, a USB charging cable with 2 pogo pins, and a user’s manual in Chinese only.

Xiaomi_Mi_Band_2_AccessoriesThe QR code points to Mi Fit app in Google Play, the same app as for the previous Mi Band, and matching the language of your phone,  at least English, as on my Android phone.

Xiaomi_Mi_Band_2The OLED display is clear enough in the shadow, but as expected it can be hard to read in broad light. The button is not an actual physical button, but a capacitive touch area, so for example if you were standard gloves in winter it won’t work.

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There’s an optical sensor and two green LEDs for the heart rate monitor on the back of the tracker.

Mi_Band_2_WristbandThe wristband itself feels quite strong, and should last a while. In the unlikely case you break it, a replacement sells for $5, and the charging cable is also available for $1.5. It’s always a plus when it’s possible to purchase accessories separately, especially at those low prices. Mi Band 2 tracker is very easy to fit into the band, and stays firmly in place.Xiaomi_Mi_Band_2_Display

I’m currently testing Energympro EP-SH09 fitness tracker, which provides decent heart rate measurement, so I’ll probably use it as a reference against Xiaomi Mi Band 2. I find the latter to look a bit better, and the wristnand to be of better quality.

Xiaomi_Mi_Band_2_Energympro_EP-SH09I also prefer the slightly wider band, which length should be long enough, except for people with fairly large wrists.

Xiaomi_Mi_Band_2_ChargingWhile the fitness tracker was already partially charged, I’m now fully charging the wearable device to find out how much truth there’s to the 20-day battery life claim.

I’d like to thank GearBest for sending the sample, and if you are interested, you can pick up one for $33.91 on their website using GBMI2 coupon. Other sellers include GeekBuying ($39.99), Fasttech ($38.99), Amazon US, and others.

Energympro EP-SH09 Bluetooth LE Fitness Tracker Features AMS AS7000 Biosensor

June 6th, 2016 6 comments

I wrote about AMS AS7000 biosensor designed for heart rate monitors last fall, and one of my regular reader noticed the sensor, made his company evaluate it, and since the results were pretty good, designed a product with it. And here I am with a sample of Energympro EP-SH09 fitness tracker with an OLED display, HRM based on AS7000 sensor, and IP67 ingress protection rating.

Energympro-EP-SH09_package

Some of Energympro EP-SH09 technical specifications:

  • MCU – Texas Instruments CC2640 ARM Cortex-M3 48 MHz
  • Display – 0.86″ OLED display, 96×32 resolution
  • Connectivity – Bluetooth 4.0 LE
  • Input – Touch area at the bottom of the display
  • Sensors – AMS AS7000 biosensor for HRM, motion sensors
  • Battery – 45 mAh LiPo battery which looks good for 4 to 5 days.
  • Dimensions – 40 x 18 x 12.9 mm
  • Weight – 6 grams
  • Ingress Protection Rating – IP67

The device can pair with smartphone using Smart Movement app for iOS or Android, and support features like time and data display, step count,burnt  calories, estimated distance, heart rate monitor, sleep monitor, lost phone or bracelet, remote camera control, etc…

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The tracker ships with a wristband, a USB charger, and a user’s manual in Chinese and English.

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That’s a close up on the optical sensor which light a green LED when active.

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The tracker needs to be place inside the opening in the wristband. It looks a little thin and fragile from my perspective, especially you’ll need to take it off every 3 to 4 days at a minimum to recharge the battery.

Energympro_HRM_Smart_Band

But once you’ve inserted the fitness tracker it’s firmly in place with no risk of dropping.Narrow_wristbandThe wristand itself is quite narrow, but it’s not really an issue.

Energympro_SH-EP09_chargingThe charger is quite nice with two pins using for charging and a short USB cable. It took around 2 hours to fully charge the device, which seems a little slow for that type of device. I have tested it a little, and the HRM seems much more accurate and reliable than the previous fitness trackers/smartwatches I’ve tested before, but I’ll test it about one more week before posting a review.

There’s very little information about this device on the Internet, except a few pictures on Facebook which also links to a non-working link to a shop in Taiwan. The product should probably eventually be listed on Energympro website. Beside selling direct to customers, the company (Sportcom HK) is also looking for partners reselling the device under their own brand.

Xiaomi Mi Band 2 Fitness Tracker Adds an OLED Display, Promises 20-day Battery Life

June 2nd, 2016 5 comments

I’m not a big fan of fitness trackers without display that require you to monitor your daily progress on your smartphone, and that’s probably why when Xiaomi released their first fitness band I was not quite as interested, but now the Chinese company has released Mi Band 2 with an OLED display, an heart rate monitor,  IP67 ingress protection rating, and a 20-day of battery life for just 149 RMB ($23).

Mi_Band_2Mi Band 2 key features:

  • Fitness, heart rate and sleep tracker
  • OLED display, view time, step count, heart rate
  • 20-day battery, IP67 water resistant
  • ADI accelerometer and optical heart rate sensor
  • Anodized 0.05mm ultra-thin button
  • Upgraded pedometer algorithm
  • Hypoallergenic silicone band
  • 2nd gen Bluetooth 4.0 for faster, stable connections

It’s still good to be able to gather your fitness data over time, and you can do so with Mi Fit app for Android or iOS.

Mi_Band_2_Unlock_Phone

The downside with an OLED display is that you normally have to press the button to turn it on, but Mi Band 2 display will also turn on when you lift your wrist. That will be great as long as it is properly implemented. I tried this feature on another smartwatch once, and simply typing on a keyboard would turn on the display, seriously limiting the battery life. Other features include sleep monitoring, and phone unlock.

Mi Band 2 is already up for pre-order on Tinydeal for $46.99. [Update: The device is now on GeekBuying for $39.99; Update 2: Up on GearBest for $33.91 with coupon GBMI2]

Via Xiaomi Facebook page.

Categories: Android, Hardware Tags: ble, bluetooth, health, hrm, oled, xiaomi

F68 Smart Watch Review

January 8th, 2016 18 comments

After No.1 D3 and SMA-Q smartwatches, Makibes F68, or just F68, is my third attempt at reviewing a smartwatch, and on paper it matches all of my main requirements namely always-on display, fitness tracking with heart rate monitor, one week of battery life, and IP67 ingress protection rating to have some waterproofness. I’ve already taken pictures of the device, so today I’ll go through the user interface on the watch, and Android app, and report my experience after using the watch for over 10 days.

F68_Watch_Review

The watch has an e-Paper display with decent viewing angles, and very good readability during the day, however at night, you’ll need to find the light switch or use a torchlight, as the watch does not have backlight at all, and it’s unreadable. There’s actually no buttons at all and everything is controlled via the touchscreen, and/or the app available for Android or iOS. The imain menu of the interface can be accessed by swiping up or down, with the options within one menu are accessed by swiping right to left.

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I’d normally like to have time, date and step count displayed on the main watch face, but there’s clearly no space once all features are enabled on F68. The top line has up to 5 icons for: battery level, Bluetooth connection status, SMS notification ON, phone notification ON, and alarm. The center of the screen shows the time, date and day of the week, while the bottom part has up to four icons to indicate whether the  pedometer, sedentary reminder, sleep monitoring, and heart rate monitor are enabled.

The time and date are set automatically when connecting the watch to your smartphone, but you can also swipe horizontally to manually set the date and time.

F68_PedometerIf we swipe down once, there’s usually a lock screen (which I disabled), before we can access the pedometer, with the top “Running man” icon use to disable or enable the feature. This screen shows the step count, estimated calories burnt and distance for the current day. You can swipe to the right to access the data from the last seven days. When you swipe up back to the time, it’s quite easy to disable the pedometer by mistake, so make sure it is still enabled by checking out the bottom left icon is on.

The step does not seem to be very accurate, and get widely variable results days after days. For example after a 9 kilometer run, the step count only increased just over 4000 steps, or about 2.20 meters per step, which is clearly impossible with the way I run… If you are in the pedometer mode, you can usually see the count going up in real-time, but there are time when it will not move at all. So I guess a firmware update might be needed here…

F68_Watch_Heart_Rate_MonitorOne more menu down we access the heart rate monitor. An empty heart means it is turned off, a “running man” icon means the HRM is enabled in sports mode, and another icon is for “healthy heart rate” mode. I can see the green LED is on in sports mode, but not always in the other mode, so maybe it’s measuring continuously in sports mode, and only sometimes in the other one. You can also swipe right to enable hear rate alerts with minimum and maximum values.

I have not tried this, because in the same 9km run, I had troubles with reliability again. At the beginning, the watch showed plausible values (150 to 160 bpm), but after a few minutes it dropped to the 80 bpm range as I was still running, and it lasted for about 15 to 20 minutes, before going up to around 150 bpm. Having said that I’m also enabled “All day HRM” in the Android app, which takes measurements every few minutes , and the data appears to be plausible with low heart rate when I sleep, slightly higher when I get and do about my daily business, and higher when doing some more demanding activities. So I’m not sure what happened during the run, maybe the sweat or position of the watch.

Makibes_F68_Smartwatch_Sedentary_Sleep_Stopwatch_AlarmGoing down in the interface once more, we can see four icon for sedentary alert, sleep monitoring, stopwatch, and alarm.

F68_Sedentary_Reminder_Sleep_MonitoringThe sedentary reminder  can be enabled/disabled with the top icon, and the options allows for a delay of 30 minutes and up by 15 minutes increments. However, it was never triggered when I tried it… I don’t find sleep monitoring very useful, but I still tried it once night, and it showed the sleep time correctly from midnight.

F68_Smart_Watch_Stopwatch_AlarmThe stopwatch works, but you can only start it and stop it. There’s no intermediate time like on standard watches. The alarm can be set from the watch or the smartphone app, and vibrates when the time is up.

F68_Watch_Settings

The next menu shows icon for user data, Bluetooth, system, and info.

F68_Watch_User_DataThe user settings let you configure gender, age, weight, and height, but it’s something much easily done from the mobile app.

F68_Bluetooth_On_Off

You can manually turn on or off Bluetooth. If the lock is closed, Bluetooth is turned off, if it is opened it it turned on. You can also see the Bluetooth ID at the bottom of the screen e.g. SPORT 91AF.

F68_Factory_Reset_Firmware_VersionThe system menu will let you reset to factory settings, or power off the watch, while the information will show the firmware version and serial number, in my case the firmware was SPORT v1.79.1.

I have not taken pictures for the notifications but they basically work and you see it in the review video further below. The information is quite basic as only an envelop icon is shown for SMS, and a phone icon and caller ID when you receive a call. You can’t take any action from the watch, but at least you are information when your smartphone get an SMS or phone call. It also support QQ, WeChat, Facebook and Twitter, but I did not really try those.

Which brings me to the mobile app called HPlus Watch and available for Android and iOS.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

After enabling Bluetooth in the watch and your smartphone, you’ll want to pair it with your phone. It will show as SPORT XXXX as shown in the watch, and I had no problem to connect. One you have installed the app, you can input your goal, and data, and the app will calculate your BMI. I did so, and the app told that I was … Fat! (what? impossible, this is clearly a bug :)).

You can also configure a few alarms with a work schedule where you can set the time and date of the week for specific actions such asgetting up, exercise, reading, watching a ball game… , as well as another alarm clock. I did not try the work schedule, but as previously mentioned the alarm is working, and the watch vibrates when the time is up.

I also enabled incoming calls and message notifications, as well as Facebook notifications in “Social notice” menu. I mostly receive Facebook Page Manager notifications, and they never showed on the watch, but maybe it’s only working for Facebook app.

F68_Social_Networks_Screen_Saver

I’ve also enabled All day HR to have the watch monitor my hear rate all day, and it seemed to work, and did not seem to affect the battery life much. If you don’t like the lock screen you can disable it by settings “Screen saver timer” to 255.

If you want to check your data you can go to the dashboard to see a chart with your step count and heart rate for the current day, as well as number for the estimated distance and total calories.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Yesterday data is rather useless, and I challenge you not to laugh when you read the associated text.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The data summary with weekly and monthly charts is a little more interesting, but we cannot access the detailed chart for a given day.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Real-time HR will show a chart of your heart rate for the last few hours, but you’ll have to make sure Bluetooth is connected, as it will look like the right side of the chart.

Finally, I’ll have a few words about the waterproofness and battery life of the watch, and I have to say I’m very pleased with the former, and relatively satisfied with the latter. I wore the watch while taking showers, and spent 15 minutes swimming and playing in a swimming pool (although you are not exactly supposed to do that with IP67 devices), and there was no issue with humidity going into the watch at all. However, one downside is that the touchscreen display is active, and the user interface can be changed because of the flow of water. For example, I managed to factory reset the watch once while taking a shower, and that’s the reason why you may want to keep the lock screen on. In my opinion, a touchscreen display is not really ideal for a sports watch, and button would be preferable, and even if you don’t swim, you may run early morning or in the evening, and condensation will form on the face making the touchscreen hard to use for example if you want to switch between pedometer and HRM interface.

The battery is supposed to last one week on a charge, but with Bluetooth on most of the time ,and the pedometer activated I could get 3 to 4 days on a charge, usually 4 days, or even a little more. Charging is also convenient with the magnetic dock, and quite fast, as a full charge takes around 45 minutes.

Video Review

Conclusion

F68 smartwatch has a limited number of features, but does much of what it’s supposed to do reasonably well, however I found the step count and heart rate monitor to provide unreliable data, appearing to work well at time, but then providing clearly bogus data.

PROS:

  • Always-on e-Paper display, readable under sunlight
  • Good Bluetooth connectivity, i.e. no problem with Bluetooth as with SMA-Q
  • Decent battery life (around 4 days)
  • SMS and calls notifications working OK.
  • Most features work as advertised
  • Waterproof (IP67). Tested under shower, and swimming. The latter is not guaranteed with IP67 however
  • HPlus watch app is not too bad
  • Cost effective (~$30)

CONS

  • No backlight for night use
  • Pedometer and heart rate monitor do not seem to work reliably all the time.
  • Touchscreen display is active under water, and the flow can change your settings.
  • Notification support is basic, only icon for SMS, icon + caller ID for phone calls, and few social networks supported.
  • No way to access details of data outside of the current day, e.g. fitness chart for yesterday, or other days.
So if they could just improve the pedometer and HRM reliability it would be quite a decent device, although not perfect because of the lack of backlight for night reading, and the choice to go with a touchscreen display for a sports watch.
I’d like to thanks GearBest for provide Makibes F68 sports smart watch for review, and they sell it for $34.89 in blue, orange, or black. You could also shop on GeekBuying, and eBay for roughly the same price.

Samsung S3FBP5A Bio-Processor Targets Fitness Tracking Wearables

December 30th, 2015 No comments

We now have many wearables capable of monitoring your activities, be it smartwatches or fitness tracker, and usually they are comprised of several small sensor chips, a low power micro-controller, a Bluetooth radio, and possibly some other ICs . Samsung has been designing and just launched a bio-processor to regroup most of those features into a single chip which should only require a fourth of the area required by current multi-chip solutions.

Samsung_S3FBP5A

While the press release did not mention the part number, the included picture – shown above – sort of gave a clue, and Samsung S3FBP5A bio-processor has the following specifications:

  • MCU – ARM Cortex-M4
  • Memory – 256 KB RAM
  • Storage – 512 KB flash
  • DSP
  • Sensors – 5 Analog frontends (AFEs) measuring:
    • PPG (photoplethysmography)
    • ECG (electrocardiography)
    • Skin temperature
    • BIA (bioelectrical impedance analysis)
    • Galvanic skin response (GSR)
  • I/Os – SPI, I2C
  • PMIC
  • Security units

The sensors will enable measurements of body fat, skeletal muscle mass, heart rate, heart rhythm, skin temperature and stress level in a single chip. The company  also mentioned several wearable reference platforms are now available including wrist band, board and patch type reference devices, but did not provide any details.

Samsung S3FBP5A Bio-Processor is currently in mass production, and should be found in devices in H1 2016. You can visit Samsung S3FBP5A bio-processor page for not that many extra details.

Via Liliputing.