The Apple Watch is all the rage right now and everybody’s happy about it acting like an iOS version of Android Wear. We’re happy about the Apple Watch, even though I think it’s rather overpriced, compared to the competition. It’s overpriced even if we compared it to the Samsung Gear S, which has its own antennae. Regardless of that, Tim Cook prides himself and Apple with the Apple Watch, positioning it as an all-in-one device which can track fitness activity all the while feeding you important notifications. If there are fitness buffs out there, athletes and sports personalities who want a good fitness tracker tailored for their needs, should not buy the Apple Watch. Why splurge on a $350 minimum price Apple Watch when you can spend $150 and get a much more advanced fitness tracker that does what you need it to do: tracking fitness like a pro. I’m talking about the AmpStrip, which was designed and is being currently tested in beta by FitLinxx.
FitLinxx has a 20 year background with fitness gear, including fitness tracking software and hardware. Did you ever hear about the Pebble? They were the ones that made the first Pebble almost 10 years ago. There’s also a Pebble+ available, but we’ll get to that later. First off let’s see why the Apple Watch looks like a gimmick next to the AmpStrip, from a fitness tracker point of view. We can say the same thing about the Microsoft Band, the Moto 360 and many other smart watches out there, but the Apple Watch is the most overpriced of them all so I enjoy venting about that. First off, the Apple Watch aims to be an all-in-one device, which is a problem when it comes to fitness tracking.
The AmpStrip is designed with just fitness tracking in mind, and it’s actually a lot less noticeable and bothersome than the Apple Watch. This insanely small fitness tracker is about the size of a band-aid that you would buy in the store and you stick it somewhere below your pecs or boobs and it will stay there for about a week, depending on the workouts you’re doing. While the AmpStrip is stuck on your body, you won’t have to worry about it discharging, losing connection, or not registering your biometrics. While the Apple Watch has to be charged at the end of the day and its optical heart rate sensor can’t read through tattoos in some cases, the AmpStrip uses a more advanced technology, namely a single lead ECG sensor that is much more accurate than the optical sensor. Before moving on with what the AmpStrip is, you should know that it’s for athletes. It is geared at athletes and professionals and it’s actually the first consumer product from FitLinxx,
The AmpStrip was very successful on Indiegogo, managing to surpass its funding goal of $50,000 by quite a lot. In five days time, the AmpStrip managed to reach its goal and gather $400,000 which helped FitLinxx get through the prototypes and testing and are now in the beta phase of the project. You can pre-order the AmpStrip for $150 off Indiegogo, and the estimated shipment date is July, but there might be some delays in delivery as the company is working on the beta with early adopters and partners. We’ve had a chat with FitLinxx CEO Dave Monahan about the AmpStrip and why it’s actually better than the Apple Watch if we’re looking at fitness tracking abilities. You can read the interview at the end of this post and find out how FitLinxx managed to get AmpStrip on the market so fast and what lies ahead for the revolutionary wearable fitness tracker.
Before heading down to the interview, I wanted to explain a few things about the AmpStrip and why I said it was better than the Apple Watch. As Dave Monahan said in our conversation, the AmpStrip is not for everyone, it’s for a niche that encompasses athletes, sports-oriented people and medical professionals, in the long run. Dave also told me that the advanced technology of the AmpStrip will eventually lead to medical-grade health trackers, pending FDA approval. Right now, the wearable is made with the sports industry in mind. That’s because the band-aid type wearable doesn’t have communication functions, but it does provide high-end fitness tracking.
Athletes probably know this better than I do, but heart rate is the most important thing that athletes need to monitor when exercising. Although the Apple Watch, Microsoft Band and others can monitor heart rate, they do not monitor it around the clock and do not differentiate between variables, resting heart rate, workload and more detailed readings like that. When an athlete trains, they want to monitor their bodies non-stop so that they can gain more insight about when their bodies are ready for another workout and how long it takes their bodies to refuel and rest after a workout. The AmpStrip can monitor heart rate, steps, posture, calories burned, active time, respiration and further down the lane: sleep and stress levels, which are things that the Apple Watch can also partly do, yet it does it with an accuracy that is hard to match. That’s most valid for the ECG heart rate monitor.
I say further down the lane because the AmpStrip is upgradable, at no cost. FitLinxx is planning on sending out multiple updates to the wearable, adding new user-requested features such as sleep tracking and stress level monitoring. The benefit of AmpStrip is that it offers important insight non-stop, around the clock and the associated app helps you monitor your health and fitness level without missing any data. Although optical sensors are neat, they do lose between 20 and 35 % of the data they collect. When fitness tracking with the Apple Watch, for example, usually you need to turn tracking on and tell the device what you’re doing in order to be able to track your activity. Also, swimming with the Apple Watch is not cool (you will have to replace it afterwards).
That’s where the AmpStrip impresses its user. The wearable tracks your movement, heart rate, rest and posture without you having to tell it anything and it needs no interaction from you as the user until the adhesive that holds it on your skin flakes off or the battery of the device dies. Essentially, the AmpStrip is made in such a way that you’ll forget you even have it on. Moreover, it’s completely water- and sweat-proof, so you can monitor your swimming routines as well, which you can’t do with the Apple Watch. Since we’re on adhesives, you should know that if you’re planning to order the AmpStrip off the Indiegogo project page, you’ll also get 3 to 6 months of adhesives for the price, but be sure to check the specifics of the perks that you select.
The battery life for the AmpStrip is way longer than the Apple Watch battery life, as it goes for at least 3 days on a single charge, and that’s when we’re talking about heavy workouts. Otherwise, with regular workouts of about an hour or two each day, it will konk out after about a week, even 10 days. The adhesives that you use to stick the AmpStrip to your body have the same shelf-life, so you’re pretty much covered with a package for the next few months. Since the device is on non-stop, you can imagine that it has some work to do tracking your activities and health metrics. Dave attributes the good battery life to their own patented technology, but the components they use are pretty standard.
Still, FitLinxx did a very good job with the AmpStrip, as it uses very little energy and transmits data straight to servers that will then feed it back to the apps that you use. The AmpStrip uses Bluetooth LE to transmit data to your mobile device, be it an iOS iPhone or iPad or an Android smartphone or tablet. That’s one of the best features of the AmpStrip and a feature that makes the Apple Watch fade in comparison, although only from this point of view: cross-platform compatibility. According to FitLinxx CEO, the wearable will also be compatible with Windows devices in the future, so that’s a great feature to see in a modern fitness tracker.
The AmpStrip works with its own app, but it can also be connected to third-party fitness apps like RunKeeper to use the data. And that’s where the fun part comes in. Dave Monahan told me that there’s a good chance that the Apple Watch will also be compatible with the AmpStrip later this year, which means that Apple Watch owners who are athletes can actually use both devices to keep track of their fitness levels. They slap on the AmpStrip on their chest, sync it up with the Apple Watch and monitor their activity directly from the watch. That’s neat, but what happens when you go swimming and you can’t take any other device with you?
FitLinxx thought of that and made the AmpStrip capable of storing 24 hours’ worth of data internally for later access. By the way, I did mention that the data the AmpStrip collects goes through some FitLinxx servers, but you don’t need to be concerned. I’ve asked Dave about security and privacy, and he informed me that the data is completely secure, thanks to 64 bit encryption and the fact that the data is not associated with a user. So even if someone manages to get a hold of the databases from the servers (which he assured me: is hard to do), they won’t be able to trace the data they find back to specific persons. Sounds pretty fair, in an age where privacy has become a key concern for many people.
Seeings as AmpStrip is a new and revolutionary product, I asked Dave whether they had more plans for it. Besides emphasizing the fact that the AmpStrip can be complimentary to the Apple Watch, he also told me that low-cost versions of the device are a possibility. Even though $150 is not that much to pay for a high-end fitness tracking wearable device, average consumers might not see the need for such a device as they don’t need the same type of body monitoring as athletes do. That’s why Dave thinks that producing stickers that only track one type of activity for a fraction of a cost would be a good step forward for the AmpStrip. Otherwise, they will be focusing on upgrading the current model with new features and getting the FDA approval for a new medical-type AmpStrip in the next year or two.
The importance of accurate heart rate tracking is overlooked by fitness tracker manufacturers, because people tend to forget that resting heart rate, your base measurement for heart rate metrics, should be taken the moment when you get up from bed after a good night’s sleep. The AmpStrip can sense posture and will know when you’re getting up from bed after a night’s sleep and that’s when it will take a resting heart rate measurements.Then it will be able to differentiate between heart rate variables and exercise loads and the effects these have on your heart rate and will let you see the data it collects and map your health and fitness levels accordingly.
Since heart-rate monitoring is the main feature of the AmpStrip, you can imagine that the ECG sensor within the wearable is almost as good as the equipment you would find in medical facilities. That’s a great plus because it offers high accuracy measurements and constant monitoring, so that you can have a lot of insight into how your body is working, healing and developing. Although the AmpStrip is not made for those who just do the minimum exercises each day, it could be a great investment for those who want to monitor sleep, stress levels and exercise, all at the same time. Check out the interview excerpts from below to find out how the AmpStrip came to be, what lies ahead and why you should be intrigued!
Ch: How come AmpStrip is your first consumer product after 0 years of activity?
Dave Monahan: In the past, putting a consumer product was very expensive because of the costs that piled up starting from retail to marketing. You had to pay retailers to put a product on shelves and overall, you had to get about $25 million to get a product to market. Now, with the rise of social media and all the ways you can get your message out in a low-cost way, we decided to bring the AmpStrip to market. We took it to Indiegogo and raised a lot of money and got a lot of interest, and in the end, we didn’t have to spend on marketing as much as we would have previously. With the success of the campaign, retailers also started contacting us, which was a good sign that our product, the AmpStrip, had an audience. You have to have a good product that people actually want, that narrowly focuses on specifics and we thought we had that with the AmpStrip.
Ch: Can you share some info about the battery tech that went into the AmpStrip?
Dave Monahan: We are using off the shelf, wireless rechargeable technology, but the reason we get such good battery life on the AmpStrip is in the way in which we handle data and in the algorithms and calculations that go into the management of that data. We’ve been in the wearable technology market for a long time and our engineers are specilalized in energy-efficient software and firmware development. We use a lot of proprietary, patented techniques to either process on the device or send it to the servers and processing data on the backend. On the other hand, the way in which the device sends data to the smartphone or tablet that it’s connected to has been made energy-efficient with our technologies that improve the way in which the flow of data is handled over time. Battery life is critical to consumers and the AmpStrip was designed with that in mind.
Ch: What are the best features of the AmpStrip that make it the best wearable for fitness buffs and athletes?
Dave Monahan: Once you stick the AmpStrip on, you will forget about it and it won’t bother you during your workout like other devices do. Chest-straps and wrist bands can be annoying and uncomfortable when doing long exercises. The AmpStrip stays in the background, it’s comfortable and you don’t have to think about it. The automatic feature, the fact that the AmpStrip takes measurements without intervention is one of the best parts. The long battery life and the upgradeability are also very important and pretty rare in the wearable industry. When it comes to upgradeability, we can do a lot more over time based on user feedback from the AmpStrip users. The fact that the AmpStrip is a completely waterproof wearable is also very important to athletes. It can resist both in fresh water and salt water, but we’re currently testing the capabilities of the AmpStrip to see the variables and metrics. Until now, tests are going pretty well, the AmpStrip holding out during a hour ocean swim, the Boston marathon, swimming marathons and such. The adhesives do have to be changed if you do long, exhaustive exercises, but if you use it for daily exercises, the adhesive will last for a week. We’ll let people know about the variables after our tests are complete.
Ch: Is the July release date set in stone?
Dave Monahan: It’s not, because we’re still going through the testing and manufacturing process, but as soon as we know an official date, we will keep you updated. We went from prototype, to alpha and then beta, where we are now. The product is ready for release, but we want to test it across a broader audience and we are refining the elements and are in talks with manufacturers about details and engineering issues. It will definitely be released in the second part of this year, but I can’t say for sure exactly when.
5 Reasons You NEED To Play The Final Fantasy VIII Remaster
After many years of fans begging Square Enix to remaster Final Fantasy VII, they finally listened and did just that. There were numerous excuses as to why the game’s re-release had lagged behind the re-releases of both VII and IX, with the most common excuse being that the game’s original code was lost years ago. However, the company made it happen and the game is finally available for modern audiences to play on modern hardware today. We’re going to give you 5 reasons why you should do just that.
First time available on modern hardware
As we’ve already said, this is the first time that the game is available on modern hardware. While the game originally launched for PS1 back in 1999, it later got a PC port in 2000. That means that is has been a whopping 19 years since a new version of the game has been available for purchase, and that wait was a brutal one. However, it is finally over and you can now play this classic game on PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch along with PC. If the lack of modern hardware support was stopping you from checking out, that excuse just got thrown out the window.
The visuals look better than ever
Thankfully, Square Enix did not just slap this port together quickly and throw it out there to shut everyone up. They did a terrific job of putting on a shiny new coat of paint for the game, with the character models in particular looking much better. While things like environment textures didn’t get quite the same amount of attention, this is nevertheless the best that the game has ever looked. It also helps that the game is simply beautiful from a design standpoint, with the game’s world being gorgeous to behold even though we’re dealing with the hardware limitations of 1999.
Quality of life improvements
While those who played the game 20 years ago will still be getting what is essentially the same experience, Square Enix did add some quality of life improvements to put it more in line with current JRPGs. These changes include the likes of increasing battle speed by 3 times, shutting off random encounters completely and even a cheat to give you max HP and limit breaks. While these may seem minor, these will go a long way to ease some of the tedium that many feel after some particularly long gaming sessions. Max HP and Limit Breaks will also make the incredibly tough Ultima and Omega Weapon boss fights a lot easier to deal with.
The Final Fantasy series is known for having its fair share of enticing side quests and mini games, but there isn’t a single one that is as addicting as Triple Triad. The game is essentially a card game that is played on a 3×3 grid, and each card has a certain number on the top, bottom, left and right sides. You need to place your cards in a manner that the numbers on your cards are higher than your opponents, and seeing as your card can be attacked from four different sides this can be tricky. You’re able to challenge many different characters to a match throughout the course of the entire game, and doing so comes with plenty of nice rewards that will make your quest easier.
The game is awesome
While our previous points focused on specific elements of the game, this one is a simple fact that has been true since 1999: the game is awesome. Unfortunately, releasing immediately after Final Fantasy VII (a watershed moment for gaming) put it under a very cruel microscope, with many knee jerk reactions simply saying it “isn’t as good as VII.” However, in the years that have passed people have revisited the game, and the consensus has definitely changed. This adventure that Square created is unlike any other in the series, being host to an ambitious and bizarre plot filled with some of the best characters the series has ever seen. If you’ve played the game before then this is the perfect time to experience this masterpiece all over again, and if you haven’t then what are you waiting for?
10 Huge Games Still Coming In 2019
2019 has been yet another good year for gaming so far, with several games releasing that will be big contenders for game of the year once the curtain closes. However, despite the year already being more than halfway over, there are still some huge titles on the horizon that are sure to make their own dents on the coming best-of lists. This article will list the 10 biggest games that are still coming in 2019.
A new game from Remedy Entertainment is always highly-anticipated, and Control is no different. The game is an action-adventure game in the same style as Alan Wake or Quantum Break, but with a supernatural twist. Players will control Jesse Faden, who possesses a variety of supernatural abilities like telekinesis, levitation and more. She will be using her abilities in order to defeat an enemy known only as the Hiss, which has corrupted reality. Control launches for PS4, Xbox One and PC on August 27th.
It has been many years since the last game in the Borderlands series released, but the hiatus is finally coming to an end very soon. Those who have played previous games in the series will feel right at home with this game, as it’s once again a loot-driven FPS. The game will offer more zany characters and a charming and insane world to explore, all while dealing with new antagonists Troy and Tyreen Calypso along with their Children of the Vault cult. Borderlands 3 launches for PS4, Xbox One and PC on September 13th, with a Google Stadia port release date being TBA.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon series is returning soon with Breakpoint, which will serve as a continuation of previous game Wildlands. The game is set in an open world environment called Aurora, which is a fictional island in the Pacific Ocean. Players will control Lieutenant Colonel Anthony “Nomad” Perryman, who is a special forces operative that was sent to the island to investigate a series of disturbances in the area. Breakpoint launches for PS4, Xbox One and PC on October 4th, with a Google Stadia port coming in November.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
Each new installment in the Call of Duty series is always huge, but Modern Warfare’s release marks a first for the long-running franchise. It will be the first game in the series that is reimagining of a previous game in the series, taking 2004’s original game and updating its mechanics and themes to match today’s world. The game will still have some of the beats that the first game had, but will also incorporate lots of surprises to make it a fresh experience. Modern Warfare launches for PS4, Xbox One and PC on October 25th.
The Outer Worlds
Obsidian Entertainment’s The Outer Worlds is one that will be very highly-anticipated for fans of Fallout: New Vegas, as this game serves as a sort of spiritual successor to that game. It will be an open world RPG that allows you to explore many unique areas crawling with plenty of deadly foes. Players will also be able to encounter and recruit NPCs as companions that have their own personal missions and stories to take part in. The Outer Worlds launches for PS4, Xbox One and PC on October 25th, with a Switch port also being in the works.
Luigi’s Mansion 3
It seemed very unlikely that Luigi’s Mansion would become a recurring franchise for Nintendo following the original GameCube game, but here we are. Luigi’s Mansion 3 is coming to Switch, which also means it will be the first home console release since the original game back in 2003. This time the game is set in a haunted hotel rather than a mansion, and Luigi has some new tricks up his sleeves to take down all those ghosts. Luigi’s Mansion 3 will launch exclusively for Nintendo Switch on October 31st.
If you’re looking for the most ambitious (and weirdest) game still coming in 2019, then look no further. Hideo Kojima’s Death Stranding has perplexed gamers ever since its announcement, and each new trailer that releases just brings more and more questions to the table. It is Kojima’s first game since breaking up with Konami after the release of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phanton Pain (and the cancellation of Silent Hills), and it looks like Kojima has taken the newfound complete creative control to deliver something truly original. Death Stranding launches exclusively for PS4 on November 8th.
Pokemon Sword & Shield
At this point we all know what to expect from a new Pokemon game, and Sword and Shield seems poised to deliver even more cute creatures for players to capture and battle very soon. What sets Sword and Shield apart from its predecessors is that it will be the first home console release for the series, which is saying something considering the series has been around for over 20 years. Pokemon Sword & Shield launches exclusively for Switch on November 15th.
If you’re a fan of Shenmue then nothing needs to be said for the inclusion of the upcoming third game on this list. Fans of the series have been waiting nearly two decades for a follow-up to the second game, and in just a couple of months that will finally be delivered to them. Brought to life thanks to an extremely successful Kickstarter campaign, the game continues the adventure of protagonist Ryo Hazuki as he hunts down his father’s killer. Shenmue III will launch for PS4 and PC on November 19th.
id Software’s DOOM 2016 was one of the best FPS games to come along in years, so it’s a no-brainer that the follow-up would be on this list. Eternal is set to offer yet another intense FPS campaign for players to plunge into, while also offering a multiplayer component that greatly improves upon the last game’s underwhelming multiplayer mode. There will also be twice as many demon types than there was in the last game, meaning that the chaos level just got that much higher. DOOM Eternal launches for PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Google Stadia and PC on November 22nd.
5 Most Exciting Announcements From The Xbox E3 2019 Press Conference
Microsoft’s Xbox E3 2019 Press Conference has officially come to an end, and with it came plenty of big announcements to get excited about. Some new games were announced, whereas previously-announced games got new footage and/or release dates. In this article we’ve narrowed it all down to the 5 most exciting announcements.
New Xbox “Project Scarlett” Coming Holiday 2020
We’ve known for a while now that a new Xbox was in the works, but now we know when to expect it. Microsoft’s fourth console (which hopefully has a better official name than Xbox One did) will be a big step up from the previous console. Things like much faster load times, an AMD Processor that is four times more powerful than the Xbox One X, 8K Resolution and 120 FPS were all mentioned. A price and exact release date weren’t mentioned. It will also be launching with…
Halo Infinite Coming Holiday 2020, Launching On Both Xbox One and Project Scarlett
The wait for the next Halo game has been longer than ever before for series fans, and the announcement at E3 revealed that the wait will continue. Halo Infinite will not be launching until Holiday 2020, meaning it will have been 5 years since the previous game released with Halo 5. It will also be launching on Xbox One and Project Scarlett, meaning the new console will have a big launch title for fans to get pumped about.
Cyberpunk 2077 Coming April 2020, Stars Keanu Reeves
It’s hard to pick a game that people have been more excited about than Cyberpunk 2077, and after Microsoft’s press conference we’re even more excited. Not only is it coming in April of next year, but Keanu Reeves himself will be playing a “key” role in the game. Everything shown from the game has looked great so far, so hopefully it all pans out and we have another classic from CD Projekt RED come April 2020.
FromSoftware and George R.R. Martin Collaboration Elden Ring Announced
This one was actually leaked prior to the presentation, but Dark Souls developer FromSoftware and Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin are collaborating on a new game. The game is called Elden Ring, and it will be a departure from the developer’s most recent games as it will be open world. Very little information on the game is known at this point, as it is still in the early stages of development.
Phantasy Star Online 2 Is Coming West
It took a very long time, but the popular MMORPG is finally coming west. The game is coming to Xbox One in a free-to-play form in Spring 2020, so the wait won’t be that much longer. “There will be no limitations on game experiences,”says Sega, because they want to “provide all players with a fair and exciting experience.”
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