The Future of Fitness: Trackers You Can Swallow and Muscle-Repairing Onions
Right now, calorie-tracking watches, Bluetooth-enabled headphones, and a phone filled with fitness apps all seem pretty high-tech. But these five in-the-works innovations are straight-up mind-blowing.
Photograph courtesy of Albert Swiston/MIT Lincoln Laboratory
1. Ingestible Fitness Trackers Wearing a fitness tracker? That's so 2015. In the future, you’ll be able to swallow a pill-sized tracker and see your vitals in real-time on your computer (and we’re guessing on your phone, too). Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology just announced in PLoS One that they’ve created a tiny stethoscope that can run through your digestive track to measure heart and breathing rate. While, so far, Wilbur and his porky friends are the only ones to have tried out the ingestible trackers, the MIT researchers behind the device plan to expand their current technology to humans, including athletes, to help them get more from their training. And in case you’re wondering, the trackers hit the toilet in about one or two days. Here's a video with more info:
2. Exercise-Replacement Pills With all of the benefits and none of the sweat, getting your daily dose of exercise in a pill may actually be possible down the line. That’s thanks in part to a new study from the University of Sydney that mapped out the more than 1,000 different molecular changes that take place in our muscles during even the shortest bout of exercise. Meanwhile, researchers at the University of Southampton in Great Britain recently developed a molecule called “compound 14,” that (at least in animal studies) tricks the body into thinking it’s exercising to increase the body’s uptake of glucose and oxygen—which naturally happens when you’re pounding the pavement.
3.Onion-Powered Muscles Veggie power is right! It turns out that all you need to make artificial muscles are onions, gold, and a helluva lot of science. In one 2015 study, researchers with National Taiwan University managed to create unveiled gold-plated onion cells that stretch, contract, and bend just like human muscle cells. While they could one day be used to give robots superhuman strength, they could also help people spring back from sports and exercise injuries a lot better.
4. Pace-Matching Treadmills Running on the treadmill is about to get a bit more like pounding the actual pavement. Researchers at The Ohio State University have developed a sonar-equipped treadmill that, instead of forcing you into running a certain pace, automatically changes speed to match your foot strikes. If you pick up the pace, moving closer to the front of the belt, the treadmill goes faster. If you move toward the back of the belt, it slows down. Best of all, the prototype is already complete, so this sick treadmill could hit the market in the next couple of years.
5. Checkup-Giving Mirrors Looking in the mirror may soon get much more revealing. An international group of researchers has developed a mirror that can determine your levels of blood oxygenation, fatty tissues, blood glucose, cholesterol, and more by simply scanning your body with light.
Called the Wize, the mirror also uses facial-recognition software to pick up on under-eye bags and the aptly dubbed "Wize Sniffer" to analyze your breath for toxins. The gas sensors analyze their breath for high concentrations of sugars—an indicator of diabetes—and evidence of smoking and drinking. The product’s design should be wrapped up and ready to hit homes, pharmacies, and locker rooms by this time next year.