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Le sport

Whoops Weird Recovery Tracker Is Getting Smarter and More Wearable

Image for article titled Whoop's Weird Recovery Tracker Is Getting Smarter and More 'Wearable'

Image: Whoop

Among fitness trackers, Whoop has always been an odd duck. To start, there’s no screen. It’s also one of the few bands that focuses on recovery. The hardware itself is free, but you pay a monthly subscription for the app, which caters to the type of fitness nerd that loves analyzing charts. And today, the company is announcing Whoop 4.0, a smarter version of its wristband, and a line of “sensor enhanced technical garments” it calls Whoop Body.

The refreshed Whoop is getting a new sensor array featuring five LEDs—three green, one red, and one infrared—and four photodiodes. The sensors will purportedly deliver “more accurate” heart rate measurements, as well as the ability to measure blood oxygen levels and skin temperature. The tracker itself is 33% smaller than the previous version and promises an estimated five days of battery life. (Whoop also says it upgraded its battery pack accessory to be waterproof and display charge levels.) The clasp has been upgraded so that it’s easier to swap between straps and Whoop Body apparel (more on that in a bit).

Whoop is similar to the Oura Ring in that it primarily tracks your sleep quality. On that front, the tracker is also getting haptic alerts that will wake users up via “gentle vibrations” according to their sleep cycles and needs. Another new app-based feature is the “Health Monitor,” which allows users to track heart rate, skin temperature, blood oxygen saturation, resting heart rate, heart rate variability, and respiratory rate in a single, exportable report that can be shared with doctors or trainers.

All this jives with recent trends in wearables, especially with regard to blood oxygen levels and an added emphasis on recovery and mental wellbeing. But the more eye-catching announcement today is the Whoop Body apparel line.

Whoop Body, contrary to what it may sound like, is not a line of smart workout gear with sensors embedded in it. Instead, it’s a means of wearing the Whoop tracker anywhere on your body, as opposed to it being limited to your wrist. The idea is that you can track your metrics from the torso, waist, and calf. The apparel is split between two lines: the Training collection and the Intimates Collection. The former includes sports bras, compression tops, leggings, shorts, and athletic boxers. The latter is basically bralettes and boxers for comfy sleeping. The “tech” part is something Whoop calls Any-Wear Detection—as in it can detect the location of the Whoop 4.0 sensor and recognize where the device is on your body, and when it was there.

Generally, wearables companies focus on wrist-based accessories. In ye olden days, when fitness trackers were glorified pedometers, many could be worn as pendants or in clips worn on the hip. However, now that these devices contain advanced sensors that depend on skin contact, this is much less common. Conversely, the wrist isn’t always the best place for tracking activity. Take it from someone who tried to wear a tracker while boxing—smartwatches don’t fit well under boxing gloves. Wrist-based trackers may also not be quite as accurate if you’re playing a sport with a lot of wild arm movements. We’ll have to see just how well this Any-Wear tech works—especially as you generally need good skin contact to get accurate heart rate readings. It’s a neat idea, though probably not quite what most people envision when they think of smart clothes.

Existing Whoop members will get first dibs on upgrading to the new tracker, free of charge. If you’re new to Whoop, a subscription is $18 a month. Apparel prices range from $54 to $110. That’s not cheap, but then again, at least it’s not as expensive as those Tom Brady “smart pajamas” that Under Armour tried to sell a few years ago.