Forget the stereotype of the gadget-loving couch potato. These innovations can help you stay trim, monitor your fitness and even save your life.
By now you must have heard of the Wii Fit, a high-tech device from Nintendo designed to help gamers and non-gamers alike lose weight and get into shape.
The selling point is that the whole thing is fun — you hardly notice you're being frogmarched to fitness. Nintendo's philosophy is this: why sweat it out in a crowded gym, which strips you of a large chunk of cash (and dignity) every month, when you can exercise in the comfort of your own home, and enjoy yourself at the same time?
The Wii Fit syncs with a Nintendo Wii games console and instructs you to perform a number of manoeuvres, from basic muscle stretches to Yoga poses. Built-in software records your height and weight, then works out your body mass index (BMI). The more you play, the healthier you'll become — we found it's so addictive we suspect you'll be on the Wii Fit more often than you'd ever visit the gym — and you can monitor your progress.
The Wii Fit's concept is a canny one: take the ready market of gamers and TV addicts and show them they can get fit and healthy — all without having to relinquish control of the remote or leave the comfort of their bedroom or lounge. And the gaming element — many of the activities are simply physically demanding versions of the racing, leaping and so on that gamers are used to — should appeal to leader-board-climbing competitive types.
But this is far from the only instance of gaming and technology being used in the pursuit of a healthier lifestyle. Fitness-conscious gadget lovers can choose from a range of devices designed to provide exercise tips and monitor heart rate and calorie consumption.
If you just need to be encouraged to stick to a healthy diet, there are plenty of online services and communities that can help. For example, Orange e-Diet and FitBug.com can both track your daily calorie intake.
But the marriage between health and technology isn't as new as you might think. For years, tech giants such as Intel, Microsoft and Philips have been creating devices that can increase efficiency in the medical fields.
Whether it's rugged laptops that help doctors in remote third-world locations or webcams that let you monitor whether distant relatives have taken their daily medication, technology and health go hand in hand.