New mobile phones help keep you healthy

New mobile phone services in Japan are aimed at helping users keep healthly.

Mobile phones have always been about helping you keep in touch. Now they're helping you stay healthy.

Eager to discover the next new trend in mobile phone technology, Japanese mobile carriers are developing and rolling out services that tie a user's desire to keep fit with their mobile phone and network-linked services.

First off the starting block has been KDDI's Au unit, which launched a service earlier this year called Smart Sports.

Most of its new handsets incorporate the service to some degree but three recently-launched models are fully equipped to take advantage of the technology. Inside the phones, a motion sensor and GPS (Global Positioning System) work together so that when you're running, the number of steps taken, distance, and calories burned are measured and recorded -- and the phone does this even if the phone's dedicated "Run&Walk" application isn't launched.

When you're done work-out information can be sent to a server and later your run can be mapped and analyzed through a PC.

And because the beat of music can help you during your daily exercise, the service links in with Au's "Lismo" music download service and can send selected tunes to a pair of wireless headphones. Using the "Beat Run" playback mode, it will also match musical tracks and the pace of the exercise.

The Smart Sports Web site indicates 7,200 users worked out with the service on Sunday and that in total this month 54,000 users have racked up more than 1 million [m] kilometers of running and walking between them and burned a collective 38 million [m] kilocalories.

Rival carrier NTT DoCoMo is also developing health-related applications.

Its system has weighing scales or blood-pressure monitors sending data to a user's mobile phone via Bluetooth. DoCoMo is hoping to get organizations like health clubs and hospitals to participate so that automatic monitoring of basic wellness data can be easily done -- with the user's consent of course.

The system isn't commercialized yet but NTT DoCoMo hopes to have it available some time in the next year.

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Martyn Williams

IDG News Service

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