Thursday, August 29, 2013

French Study: E-Cigarettes Not That Healthy After All

So it turns out the hot new thing in "healthy" smoking really isn't that much better for you than regular old tobacco cigarettes, according to a new study from the smoking capital of the world: France. Their National Consumer Institute found that many of the little electronic nicotine vaporizers actually kick out a fairly significant amount of nasty toxic chemicals, just like their plant-based cousins.

About a third of the e-cigs tested contained high levels of formaldehyde and acrolein, almost as much as those found in regular cigarettes. Both of those chemicals are well known carcinogens and lung damagers. According to Thomas Laurenceau from the National Consumer Institute:

"Electronic cigarettes are far from the harmless gadgets that they are presented as... This is not a reason to ban them, but to place them under better control."

This and other new studies showing the potential health risks of e-cigarettes aren't likely to go over well with the companies and stores that sell them. Even some of the smoking industry "giants" are now pushing the products as safe smoking alternatives and/or "quit smoking" tools. Still, the good news is that it appears several brands/models -- 7 out of 10 of the ones tested -- don't contain high levels of bad chemicals.

We say: Since e-smoking is expected to become a $10 billion industry in the next few years, we don't expect this study or any other to really affect it that much. Here in Vegas you can see people smoking these weird little things (not to mention "e-hookahs") all over the place now. It will be interesting to see how anti-smoking establishments change their laws/rules to handle all the e-smoke!

Learn some mo': Study says e-cigarettes may contain carcinogens similar to regular cigarettes

Photo credit: chiropractic

Monday, August 12, 2013

Bowflex Boost: The Next Hot Fitness Gadget

Activity-tracking devices have become a big part of the fitness and exercise gadget business. In the past year, wireless bracelets have exploded in popularity, especially the Fitbit Flex Band and the Jawbone Up bracelet. Now Nautilus Inc. is ready to jump in the game with the Bowflex Boost wrist band, which is designed to be a cheaper, better alternative to existing products.
The sleek and futuristic-looking Bowflex Boost bracelet
The Boost is small, light, and priced at around $50, possibly giving it a big marketing advantage over the $100 - $150 offerings from Nike, Fitbit, and Jawbone. Nautilus, best known for high-priced home exercise products like the TreadClimber and Bowflex gyms, says it's part of a new strategy to offer a wider variety of health and fitness-related products.

The Bowflex band allows users to track how many steps they take, how far they travel, and approximately how many calories they burned during the day. It wirelessly connects to an iPhone app (and soon an Android app) so activity levels -- and calorie burning progress -- can easily be tracked over time. Like other popular fitness bands, the Boost can even provide information about the quality of your sleep... if you're willing to wear something on your write all night!

The Boost's low price is the main thing that will set it apart from similar products, according to Nautilus. CEO Bruce Cazenave said:
“Some of the things [our product] does might be similar to what other people are doing... The difference is that ours is going to be very, very affordable. Some of these products are well north of $100. Ours will be at a $50 price point.... That’s going to open some eyes and ears, and lead to [people saying] 'I need to take a look at this... Then it becomes affordable for a wide variety of people, some who are already fit, others looking to get off the couch.”
The corporation's earnings recently took a pretty big hit, so the need to offer lower-priced products that appeal to a wider variety of consumers is obvious. After all, not everyone has $2200 lying around to spend on the most popular model of TreadClimber. According to Cazenave:
"During tough economic times, we realized there were product opportunities below $500 that we weren't addressing... You will still see products coming from us that are more than $1,000. We aren't abandoning that. But we thought we needed to complement it with lower- priced products, to get to people who may not want to take out a loan, which many people do when you have higher-priced products."

We say: The Bowflex Boost is a very good idea. Lots of people (like us!) want to track their weight loss progress but don't want to spend $100+ on an easily lost or damaged bracelet computer. It will be interesting to see how this product and some of the new fitness smartwatch devices shake things up in the wearable computing market!

Read some mo': Nautilus Boosts Product Lineup