Enter the maze

Back (page) in the running

Bike in long grass : Copyright www.iStockphoto.com 000029259060

Health and wellbeing are near the top of everyone's to do list, even if some of us don't actually turn it into action. Researchers around the world are exploring how technology can help us be more sporty and healthy. After all, prevention is better than cure. So let's run through a few gadgets aiming to keep you healthy.

Steps will have to be taken

Accelerometers, tiny devices that measure force and movement, are common in smartphones and wearable computing. The Fitbit and Nike+ devices, for example, can detect how many steps you take and how many stairs you climb. You can set your daily targets or just measure your general activity and share the results with friends. You can even share them with the world in general, so keeping fit becomes a global game. For those less physical, accelerometers are also used in special 'sleep phase' alarm clocks. They monitor body movement and wake you up when you're in light sleep mode. That makes waking up easier and more pleasant.

And the winner is - stairs... eventually

Walk virtually anywhere

Omni aim to take game playing a step further. They are developing a platform that you stand on and can walk on. As you walk, wearing special shoes, the platform floor detects your footfall. That movement is translated into movement of your character on screen. The system will replace a normal games controller. Instead of pressing buttons, it's your actual body walking and running that does the controlling. As computer games increase in their realism this could become the new (if tiring) way to get around that virtual town.

And the winner is - World of Warcraft taxi companies

Bike snatcher catcher

Cycling is a popular way to get fit and help the environment. An American start-up company have created Bike+, a gadget for your bike. It logs the distances you have peddled and the routes taken, so you can use this data to get fitter. It also has an extra twist; one of the things about having a smart bike is that it can be a target for thieves. Bike+ also acts as an alarm, so if the bike is moved when it shouldn't be it sets off an alarm and sends you a text. You can track where the thieves have taken your beloved bike, and hopefully recover it safely.

And the winner is - the long arm of the law and a good pair of legs

Gear of good cheer

A good run can relieve stress, but researchers at Microsoft have come up with a new way to monitor how stressed you are: the smart bra. It measures the heartbeat, skin moisture and activity of the person wearing it, and in tests was able to predict stress levels pretty accurately. Microsoft are now looking to develop something more unisex, in the form of a bracelet. Someday soon you clothes or fashion accessories might be telling you to take a run.

And the winner is - pushy clothes, take a hike