Losing weight is one goal of wearing fitness trackers, but it's not always easy to see the pounds you've lost from the steps your Fitbit Alta is tracking or the muscle you've gained with your Atlas Wristband.
Simply stepping onto a scale also won't tell the full story of your hard work. Even though you're eating better and exercising on the regular, the numbers might stay the same or even go up causing confusion, frustration and ultimately a loss of motivation.
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But don't head back to Netflix binging on the couch every weekend or gorging on pizza just yet. Naked Labs CEO and co-founder Farhad Farahbakhshian sat down to tell us how the Naked 3D Fitness Tracker, a sensor-packed smart mirror that takes a 3D scan of you on a rotating scale, wants to help you stay on task.
Seeing is believing
Farahbakhshian says a big part of staying on top of exercise routines is actually seeing the flub fall away or your biceps getting meatier. He should know - on top of being an electrical engineer, he's also taught spin classes.
"60% usually start to drop off after working out at the gym," Farahbakhshian tells us. "They come in super motivated and want to make a change, and work out really hard but after six weeks they're not where they thought they'd be.
"Either their expectations were not set appropriately or they are using the wrong metrics and the wrong devices to measure their health and fitness. When I saw people who stayed with it, (it was because) that 20% could see how their efforts were affecting their body. The people who quit, well it wasn't visible to them."
But it's hard to see progress with a plain 'ol mirror and again, numbers on a scale don't mean everything. That leaves taking a tape measure to your leg after every workout but this isn't the best solution either since you have to measure the exact same place each time.
That's where the Naked mirror and scale come in. The scale is more of a turntable that slowly spins you while the mirror uses Intel RealSense 3D Depth Sensors to scan your body which creates a custom 3D body image that's sent to the Naked companion app on your mobile device.
To accurately pinpoint the changes you must be naked, hence the name, or wear skintight clothing.
The mirror was demoed in real time right in front of me and while the person wasn't naked, the scan did show every t-shirt wrinkle and misplaced ponytail hair.
Apparently the sensors and algorithms will get even better at recognising your body by the time the tracker is ready to ship. The time it takes to scan and send to you phone will also be much faster.
Numbers do lie
Even though scales can tell you how much you weigh, they don't always reflect the changes your body is going through. The Naked 3D Fitness Tracker does come with a scale that works on carpet and hardwood floors, but Farahbakhshian emphasised that it's not the focus of the platform.
"It does measure weight to capture accurate body fat percentage because we need weight to do that. But we want to actually keep people away from weight - we believe health is more than just weight."
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When conducting research into the options people are given to measure their progress, Farahbakhshian and the team saw that connected scales and dumb mirrors were pretty much it.
"We saw that most companies are focusing on what you do with your body and what you're consuming - and that's really important - but it's only part of the equation," Farahbakhshian explains. "The other part of it is what's happening to your body so you can correlate activity and diet and regimen. The only device we saw that does this today is a connected scale and a mirror."
But that wasn't the right answer for Naked Labs. For proper motivation, the team wanted proper visualisation that wasn't solely in the context of just stepping onto a scale that syncs with a fitness tracker, or scrutinising your body with a mirror.
"Your weight might not change but you may improve your health drastically," he says. "We have case studies on that. And a mirror, your eyes can deceive you, and filter what's really happening. Naked as a product visualises your body's progress far sooner than anything you see on a scale or mirror to help you stay motivated."
Farahbakhshian gave an example of Vijay, who couldn't tell if his workout was making a difference. Through beta testing with the Naked mirror, he was able to see his progress outlined by the app's heat map.
Insights are also available within the app to explain actionable suggestions that can help increase regimen efficiency and potentially reduce imbalance related injuries. But there are also plans to add in coaches.
"We want to partner with other service providers like Fitmo that can connect you to remote trainers. We also have goals to have that within our own platform," Farahbakhshian tells us.
"We do have a tab called 'Insights' where we want to provide you with observations like, 'Hey we see asymmetry between your lower back and upper back and you're prone to an injury.' We also have a symmetry app screen where it shows you areas that you need to improve if you don't want to get injured and trophies that tell you, 'Great job.'"
Naked Labs also wants to connect smartwatches and fitness trackers you own with the platform so the information can sync up. Farahbakhshian says the company would like to work with the big names like Apple and Fitbit, and that they'll have an API that can be accessed.
Owning another piece of tech may seem cumbersome, but the Naked 3D Fitness Tracker seems like it'd fit into homes well. It's beautifully designed, with more colours available later, and sits pretty unobtrusively in a room. The scale also docks at the base of the mirror to recharge - in order to spin you for the scan - and they connect to each other via Bluetooth, while sending the scans to your phone through Wi-Fi.
More than one person can use the mirror and scale as well. Apparently the tech intuitively knows whose phone to send the scans to based on the body type.
As expected, all this tech won't come cheap. The app remains free but the mirror and scale will cost $499, and that's only the special preorder pricing. It will likely go up later, or after it ships in March of next year.
Farahbakhshian says Naked is priced fairly though, especially compared to the Under Armour Healthbox where you get an Under Armour Band, a set of Wi-Fi enabled smart scales and a heart rate monitor chest strap. He argues Naked gives a fuller picture of your overall fitness achievements with the 3D scan.
That said, March 2017 is a while for the smart mirror to show up, but the wait (and cost) will be worth it if seeing your fitness goals come to fruition in a visual timeline will keep you motivated to stay healthy.