Monthly Archives: July 2013

Interview: Dr. Mike Tsai, Chairman and CEO of Salutron, Maker of LifeTrak

The LifeTrak Move C300 is a wrist wearable fitness and activity tracker that automatically tracks steps taken, distance traveled and calories burned. The device fits comfortably on my wrist and with one push of a button I can see my heart rate, calories burned and weekly workout progress among other things.

Wearable fitness monitors have dominated the quantified-self market these past several years and trackers are starting to differentiate themselves. I spoke with Dr. Mike Tsai, Chairman and CEO of Salutron and Dr. Jin Lee, Chief Technology Officer and SVP of Engineering, to learn more about what sets the company apart from the rest. After Mike’s first company went public, a close friend of his suffered a fatal heart attack while playing basketball, which made Mike wonder about what he could do to prevent this occurrence from happening to other people.

Salutron has been in the fitness and ECG space for almost two decades and last year merged with Linea Research. The partnership with Linea Research is an important one – Linea is a leading research facility, focused on sensor integration and signal processing solutions specifically for health and wellness technologies. Through their past (and ongoing) research with NASA, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Homeland Security, Linea has improved the way body monitoring is measured for astronauts and soldiers and has brought that technology to the everyday consumer through Salutron.

So what exactly makes the Move, backed with NASA and DOD research, so powerful? When asked which key features stood above the rest, Mike noted, “the Move has an extensive ECG hardware component to it. It has the capability to accurately measure your heart rate, unlike other competitors in the market, which is also essential in calculating your real calories burned.”

Additionally, the device runs on low power, which means that the battery won’t need to be recharged for a year, after which it can be replaced like a watch battery. Users can wirelessly sync their Move data to an assortment of apps, more of which are developed each day using the system’s open API. The Move is waterproof and swim friendly, and the price point of $59.99 makes it much more affordable than other trackers. “We’ve been at this since 2005 and we are able to offer a more reasonable price through our very efficient supply chain,” states Dr. Tsai. The company has also white-labeled their devices to partners like New Balance to reach more athletes.

Salutron is targeting the launch of its next device, the Fit, by the end of the year. In addition to all the specs of the Move, the Fit will also have a sleep monitoring piece that will automatically recognize when the user falls asleep and when he or she wakes up, which hasn’t been perfected by any other wearable device in the market. I certainly look forward to the Fit but for now, all I need is the Move to get me moving.

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