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LifeBeam Smart Hat – NASA tech measures your vitals as you exercise [Review]

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If you want to get ahead, get a hat they say. Or in this case, get a smart hat at least. Because, as we all know, we’re only as clever as the technology which we wear, use and consume. Apparently. Anyhoo, we were intrigued enough by the idea of this LifeBeam Smart Hat to agree to take a look and see if it works as advertised. Short answer, yes it does. And surprisingly well.

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The hat is actually just an ordinary peak cap variety with a lightweight construction which won’t get cumbersome during exercise activities. But it’s the addition of two little sensors and a control system that really makes the difference here, as you’ll see if you watch our video review below.

First impressions
The product comes in a very solid box, along with a plastic case, a user guide and the typical microUSB charge cable. Set up is a very simple affair. Just download your fitness app of choice (or you can use the LifeBeam demo app on the Play store) and pair the phone from inside the app (make sure Bluetooth is on first of course). We found that several of the recommended apps like Stava and Runtastic didn’t work with our phone for some reason, but the Polar one did and so we installed and used that one.

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In use
Once you’re paired you simply put the hat on, check that it’s picking up the heart beat through the forehead sensor and you’re set to go. We took the hat out for a ride into town on the bike (about 8 miles each way) and it was fine. The hat fits snugly, and although it flaps a little in the wind, we never felt it was in danger of blowing off. The app kept a nice running track of our progress, and we referred to it now and then just to see how we were getting on.

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The nice thing about Polar is the fact that you can review your excursion in detail once you’ve finished, which is great for seeing how you do at different stages. It’s also great for checking just how unfit you are, but that’s another matter entirely.

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Conclusion
What can we say? It’s a hat. The overall design of the product is very good. Easy to detach the control module for washing, unobtrusive in use (apart from the indented forehead issue after use) and it’s comfortable and lightweight. The sensors definitely deliver the results too. The GPS tracking and accelerometer seemed spot on, and we didn’t see any glitches along the way. It works. If you’re looking for a simple and easy way to track your exercise and activities, this is a good solid option. And it looks good too.

Price: $99 (in black or white)

Specifications:
Sensors: Optical heart-rate sensor, 3-axis accelerometer
Max. readable heart rate: 220 BPM
Min. readable heart rate: 30 BPM
Operating temp.: -5°C to 45°C (23°F to 113°F)
Water Resistance: All weather compatibility
Battery Type: Rechargeable 100mAh lithium polymer
Battery Life: 17 hours of continuous use
Communication modules: ANT+™ and Bluetooth low energy (BLE)
Fit: Velcro strap, one size fits all

Nigel is the managing editor of the Red Ferret, as well as a freelance columnist for the Sunday Times newspaper in London. Loves tech and fancies himself as a bit of a futurist, but then don’t we all?

Nigel – who has written posts on The Red Ferret Journal.


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