Wearables

Lifetrak Zoom HRV is a computer you can wear

The Lifetrak Zoom HRV also tracks your daily physical activities, such as steps taken, calories burnt, sleep quality, heart rate and blue-light exposure.
The Lifetrak Zoom HRV also tracks your daily physical activities, such as steps taken, calories burnt, sleep quality, heart rate and blue-light exposure. PHOTO: LIFETRAK

The Lifetrak Zoom HRV is not just another fitness tracker. It is a "wearable body computer", according to its maker.

It gives you heart-rate variability (HRV) with a simple push of a button. HRV is the variation in the time interval between heartbeats and provides a better indication of your physical and mental health. Lower HRV has been associated with congestive heart failure, depression and other diseases.

Usually, you will need do an electrocardiogram (ECG) to find out your HRV. But, with the Zoom HRV, you can find out your HRV whenever and wherever you go.

The Zoom HRV also tracks your daily physical activities, such as steps taken, calories burnt, sleep quality, heart rate and blue-light exposure. Blue light is the light emitted by the screens of electronic devices and is said to affect the release of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep.

It consists of an oval-shaped plastic tracker module and a silicon wrist strap. But it can be worn on the forearm or upper arm to measure heart rate.

The tracker module's top has 12 LED indicators with a button in the centre.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $219

    MATERIAL: Plastic tracker module with silicon strap

    CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth

    WEIGHT: 28g

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 2/5

    PERFORMANCE: 3/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    OVERALL: 3/5

When you raise your wrist, it tells the time by an LED indicator being lit in the hour location and another blinking in the minute location. For example, at 2.30pm, the two o'clock LED will light up while the six o'clock LED will blink.

At its bottom, you will find an optical sensor and three metal electrical contacts that measure your heart rate.

The strap is comfortable regardless of where you wear it. It is also easy to install and remove the module from the wrist strap.

However, the Zoom HRV does not look as sleek as many fitness trackers out there - certainly not something you wear to parties or black-tie events.

In addition, operating the Zoom HRV is not particularly intuitive. It can take your VScore - a personal biometric fitness assessment - as well as VScan - a 3min HRV measurement that reflects your current physical condition and readiness to train.

VScore is automatically computed based on your sleep and daily physical activities. To measure the VScan, you need to press the button twice quickly. And you have to stay still for 3min for the device to take your VScan.

You will not be able to see both scores or any other stats, unless you sync with the Zoom HRV app (Android and iOS) on your smartphone. To do so, you need to press the button three times.

And, when recording a workout, you need to press and hold the button for 3sec.

Confused? I am. I kept having to refer to the manual to make sure I was doing things right.

Without doing an ECG test and using the Zoom HRV at the same time, it is impossible to know how accurate the Zoom HRV is with its HRV readings.

Comparing the resting heart rates measured by the Zoom HRV and my Fitbit Charge 2, I found their respective measurements to differ by around 5 beats per minute (bpm).

In terms of steps tracking, the Zoom HRV tended to count fewer steps than the Charge 2 and my Apple Watch Nike+ by nearly 10 per cent.

For sleep monitoring, the Zoom HRV's measurements did not differ much from those of Charge 2 - at most by 30min.

However, for workouts like walks or runs, the Zoom HRV displays only your workout time and heart rate in terms of maximum, minimum and average rates. It does not record distance or pace.

On a full charge, Zoom HRV can last around five days before going totally flat.

•Verdict: If you are looking for a fitness tracker that has your heart in mind, you will want to check out the Lifetrak Zoom HRV.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 05, 2017, with the headline 'Lifetrak Zoom HRV is a computer you can wear'. Print Edition | Subscribe