Review: the calorie-counting sleep-measuring KiFit Armband

Anna Leach Tech

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It’s always interesting to know stuff about yourself, how many steps you walk, how many hours you sleep or how many calories you burn when you go for a run.

And we’ve just been testing out a device that tells you exactly that, the KiFit armband. Billed as “the most intelligent calorie management system in the world”, it measures calories burnt, physical activity, steps taken and how efficent your sleep is.

Strap it onto your arm during a day and night and then plug it into a computer via USB to get it to import and analyse all your data.

Apart from the sheer curiosity factor, this would be pretty useful if you are trying to lose weight, train up for something or just get a certain number of hours sleep a night. However, it’s a pretty pricey piece of kit.

With 3 types of sensor – testing body temperature, moisture and motion, it can pick up a lot of data about how active you are and how many calories you are burning off.
According to the KiFit rep I met, these measurements work out as 95-7% accurate compared to other much more complex laboratory ways of measuring calories burned.

Originally invented for medical reasons to monitor the health of patients on life-support, the arm band has a decent medical basis to it.

The armband links with a website, which once you sign in, will sync with your device and show you all your vital stats in a nice set of graphs.

Measured are:
– Calories burned while wearing the armband
– Physical Activity, how many minutes were spent in moderate and vigorous activity
– Steps Taken
– Sleep Duration – the motion sensor detects how restless you are in bed and whether you actually get that 8hours that you think you do.
If you enter data about what you eat, it will total up the calories you consume and line it up against what you burn to work out your calorie deficit or surplus – useful if you’re trying to lose weight.

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The Data: there’s so much of it, and having a spread across a day or a week is really interesting and gives you insights about your daily activities. For example sitting at a desk you are burning hardly any more calories than you do when you’re asleep. About 1.4 a minute compared to about 1.1 when in bed. During difficult or stressful moments your calorie consumption goes up.

Nice graph presentation – once you get through the website and sync your device up to the activity manager, your stats are nicely and clearly presented.

Goals: very easy to set goals and match up your performance to them

KiFit measures sleep:
I haven’t come across this before. It has the ability to measure deep sleep: the motion sensor detects how long you actually sleep for in comparison with how long you lie down for. Turns out you sleep a lot less than you think..

The Price – at £199 plus a minimum subscription of £16.41 per month to the activity manager software, you’d have to decide that you really wanted this before splashing out. Totalling up as £380 a year, it’s about the upkeep costs of a good smartphone and it puts it just out of the reach of someone merely curious.

The Software – the graphs all display nicely but I find the website a little unecessarily complex, and often have to open 3 windows to check one thing.

Logging calories – to get full use of the KiFit, you probably want to enter in the details and calorie and vitamin content of the food you eat. Personally I find that quite fiddly and couldn’t be bothered.

The Armband, well, obviously if you buy this product you’ll have bought into the whole armband idea, but just to say it does look a little bit silly to walk around with, particularly in the summer when everyone’s in t-shrits.
And you can’t take in water so if you’re a swimmer, or just have er energetic showers, you’ll never know how much energy you burn.

The KiFit gets you some really interesting data which is pretty accurate and often quite surprising. However at that price, it’s not a novelty purchase, it’s one for the fitness freaks, or bulge-battlers who find that simpler methods don’t work. Or perhaps just geeks with an interest in their own biology.

KiFit armband, £199 then £16.41 a month after the first month. (£380 for one year)

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By Anna Leach | June 8th, 2010

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