There are numerous “quantified self” applications and products currently on the market and while they are great for people interested in health and fitness, they don’t necessarily tell you when to exercise. That is the main difference between other fitness electronics and the Ithelete Finger Sensor ($69.99).
By monitoring a user’s heart rate variability (HRV) each day, Ithlete claims that its mobile app can tell users when they should exercise and when they should take a day off.
Since the Finger Sensor itself is little more than a tiny device that you put your index finger into, most of the product’s functionality is tied to the $9.99 Ithlete application for iOS and Android.
Once you are inside of the application, you can chose to take a reading. By clicking “start” the app will begin a 55-second countdown during which you will breath in and out. Throughout the reading, the Ithlete app will tell you your pulse and by the end, an Ithlete score will be provided.
Since HRV only matters when sufficient data has been collected, the app won’t be able to give true recommendations until your baseline score is determined. Within a week, however, the app can be turned to for reliable recommendations regarding your exercise schedule.
As readings begin to build up, you can also export all of the data to a CSV table via email or Dropbox. What’s nice about this feature is that you are not necessarily tied to Ithlete’s ecosystem and can therefore easily transfer your heart rate data to another system.
I’ve used quite a few fitness wearables in the past like the Withings Pulse and the one thing that is usually annoying about heart rate features is that getting a reading can be a pain. Since the Ithlete Finger Sensor actually goes onto your finger and stays there, I never ran into an issue with the readings.
To get the most accurate reading, you should use the Sensor in the morning before eating anything. By doing this, accurate exercise recommendations will be provided.
The Ithlete app will come back with a score and a recommendation that is represented by one of three colors (green, orange, or red). If you have a green reading, you are able to exercise without limitations whereas orange means you should stick to light cardio and red means you should avoid working out.
Now, how accurate are these recommendations and readings? Well, it is hard to know for sure.
Without a more advanced HRV system to compare the data to, I can’t necessarily judge the device in that way. However, when it comes to the primary data point being looked at (heart rate), the Finger Sensor appears to be very accurate. The pulse readings were always on-par with those of other heart rate sensors.
So, since it appears as though Ithlete understands the importance of HRV, I’m inclined to trust its recommendations.
The Ithlete Finger Sensor is definitely not a device that is meant for the average person who exercises infrequently or is not actively training for an event. However, for those that are athletes, HRV is an important data point to consider.
As a result, the Finger Sensor seems to be a great option. The Ithlete app is incredibly easy to use and while it would be nice if it were free, it is worth the price if you are already investing in the actual device.