This product says that it can predict your calorie expenditure with 92% accuracy. It uses sensors that measure motion, skin temperature, skin resistivity and ambient temperature. It communicates with software on your PC to calculate your calorie expenditure.
I have two problems with this gadget. The first is the price. The unit is $500 and it requires an ongoing subscription to the Bodybugg web service. I don’t know if it’s worth that much money to get 92% accuracy when I can get pretty close just by keeping track of my physical activity. Their own abstracts state the following:
[Physical activity records] can provide a great deal of detail on the types of physical activities engaged in along with the individualâ€™s pattern of participation (Leenders, 2001, Weston 1997).
Their only problem with this method of calculating calorie expenditure is the time it takes to collect the data:
While these measurement tools are quite inexpensive, there is a significant cost disadvantage in that many are manpower intensive requiring personnel to gather and analyze the data generated. In the case of computer logs, participants must have a computer and be computer literate.
This Bodybugg sensor only works with a computer (a very expensive web-based computer system that requires an ongoing fee), so the Bodybugg doesn’t solve that problem.
The second problem that I have with this system is that all the abstracts and studies that were done on this program were with an armband system that worked in conjunction with a heart rate monitor. The Bodybugg doesn’t have any heart rate monitoring capabilities, so it doesn’t really have a proven accuracy rate of 92%. The mechanism that they tested is different than the one that they are selling.
In the end, a piece of paper where you write down what exercise you did all day is almost as good and over $500 cheaper.
Update 09-26-07: The television show, The Biggest Loser, features this product. All of the contestants are wearing them on their arms. Still seems more expensive than a heart rate monitor and a pad of paper.