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CES: BodyMedia introduces a new Core 2 fitness tracker, with some other interesting ideas


BodyMedia has become a regular stop on our annual CES tour -- the company introduced its first Bluetooth-enabled, smartphone-connected fitness tracker a few years ago -- and since then, they told us this year here in Las Vegas, the smartphone versions of the tracker are outselling more traditional versions "by far."

As a result, the company's latest tracker, called the Core 2, is of course designed to sync up almost completely through your iPhone. The device is smaller than ever -- over 40 percent smaller than the current model, and so small, says the company rep, that "the main element is really the strap." The Core 2 isn't only thin, but it also ditches the micro USB port, which means the unit is now essentially waterproof. It comes with a separate Bluetooth dongle (to be used in a computer, in case the user doesn't have a Bluetooth-enabled phone), and can be synced up and charged by being placed in that dongle.

Just like all of the other BodyMedia trackers, the Core 2 keeps track of a number of different fitness statistics, including steps taken, calories burned and the duration and potency of whatever activity you undertake. The company has always used a web app called the Activity Monitor to track users' input, but as smartphones became more and more prevalent, the free iOS app has been updated to track more features and even sync live with the device directly.

The Core 2 isn't yet priced, but it should be "comparable" to the company's current US$149 offering, according to the rep, when it's finally released in August of this year.

By the end of the year, BodyMedia also wants to add in one of the most requested features of its devices, and set it up to also record a user's heart rate. There will need to be an extra accessory for that, as it's not possible to pick up a heart rate with just an upper armband. But the Core 2 has that functionality ready to go, and when the other accessory is ready, the Core 2 should already be compatible with it.

The company's also planning to update the app for Android. And before I left the booth here at CES, BodyMedia showed me one other idea they're working on: A disposable version of the fitness tracker, basically a stick-on bandage with a chip stitched inside of it. The stick-on strip is designed to be worn 24 hours a day (including through showers and in the pool) for seven days, at which point users can cut open the bandage, plug the chip into a PC via USB, and then transfer all of the stats off of it.

There's no price or release date yet planned for the disposable version, and it's basically not much more than a prototype at this point. But it is a very interesting take on the growing fitness tracker market, and it could convince a lot of people who don't want to deal with pulling a tracker on and off all the time to take the plunge.

BodyMedia's plenty busy these days, and these products should move the company forward even more when they hit later on this year. We'll keep an eye out for the Core 2 when it finally reaches store shelves in August.

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