A New Wave of Gadgets Gives Us Fresh Ways to Spy on Ourselves

Move over Fitbit. These new devices go beyond counting steps to track everything from fat to fear to fertility

Wondering how your stomach is handling that In-N-Out Double Double you wolfed down for lunch? Wonder no more—there’s now a device that keeps track of your digestive system’s food absorption capabilities. Also, gizmos that monitor your sleep patterns, your heart rate, your blood-oxygen levels, even your posture. In fact, there are so many personal surveillance gadgets on the market these days, it’s downright stressful deciding which to plug into your body. Fortunately, there’s a device that measures anxiety, too.

Why bother balancing a book on your head when you can strap an Upright Go device onto your upper back? It delivers a vibrating zap whenever its biosensors detect slouching, sort of like those electronic dog collars that keep Spot from straying. $80 at uprightpose.com.

Exactly why this sleep monitoring bracelet is waterproof is anyone’s guess—in case you drift off in the bathtub? But Whoop not only tracks your bedtime habits, it recommends ideal times to call it a night, recommends the exact number of hours of shut-eye you’ll need, and keeps tabs on your heart and respiratory rates. $30 at whoop.com.

Another bracelet, but this one is designed to help with other bedtime activities. Ava’s fertility sensor collects data—skin temperature, pulse, heart rhythm, blood circulation, breathing rates—to help you identify the optimum time to try for a baby. $279 at

Amazon is already collecting data on your shopping habits, taste in books and movies, and grocery choices. Now it wants to know how you feel. The Halo bracelet listens in on your conversations to measure your voice’s timber for signs of irritability, fear, or joy. Pair it with your cell-phone camera and as a bonus it will create a 3D scan of your body fat. Yes, that’s right, soon-to-be-ex-CEO Jeff Bezos now wants your underwear pics, too. $99 at amazon.com.

This futuristic ring—designed by a Finnish start-up—made headlines after researchers at UC San Francisco and UC San Diego suggested that the Oura might be useful in flagging infectious illnesses, like Covid-19, by monitoring body temperature and heart rate with tiny sensors. But that’s just scratching the surface of what this high-tech bling can do: it also tracks calorie burn, sleep patterns, activity rates, and respiratory rhythms. $299 at oura.com.

After you’ve finished feasting, simply breathe into Food Marble’s portable Aire device and an app will tell you how much damage you’re doing to your colon, or at least track how well you’re absorbing what you eat. Another diet-related device, the Tellspec, lets you scan your food with a spectrometer, sends that data to its “analysis engine” in the cloud, then beams back a report to your iPhone. The whole process takes about ten seconds, just enough time to shove another Twinkie into your mouth. $159 at foodmarble.com. $1,999 at tellspec.com.

The Works
Apple stuffs so many high-tech features into its latest Series 6 smartwatch, you can practically launch a SpaceX rocket with it. Along with a pulse oximeter, there’s an altimeter—so hikers and skiers can track their elevation—and an ECG for do-it-yourself electrocardiograms. This watch is quite literally a life saver. Starting at $399 at apple.com.

Devices that merely count steps? So 2000 and late. The new Venu SQ smartwatch does everything but wash your gym clothes. Heart rate, respiration, hydration, blood-oxygen levels—it tracks them all. Plus, it pings motivational messages: “Put that cookie down!” $200 at garmin.com.

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