The fitness market is growing and this has led to the development of literally thousands of fitness applications entering the market daily. Most of the fitness applications are perfectly harmless. They provide services like counting the calories burned, keeping track of workouts, collecting various data about calories, and using the data collected to design a customized workout plan. However, a fitness application that was designed by one fitness company goes a very controversial step further. Their application actually reveals sensitive information about various military bases and spy posts around the world.
A Tracking Map
If you’ve ever downloaded one of those fitness application, you already know that they make various requests of the user. For example, they ask the user permission to know their location and several other permissions, which are usually granted in order to use the application. Strava released information that their application produces a visualization data map that records the users activity. The controversy surrounds the fact that the application has access to millions of GPS data points. This makes it extremely easy for the application to track down any location across the world. This includes secret locations and spy posts. Even more controversial is the fact that the Strava application is very popular and available to download to a smartphone or fitness trackers. The availability of the application caused military personnel to take note and quickly discover that the Strava data map is detailed enough to reveal secret military locations.
Strava has the potential to cause great harm. The real danger begins when a soldier decides to download the application and use it on a regular basis for their fitness workout. For example, the application could log a soldier’s jogging routine and show distinctive markings that reveal the location of their military base. The leak of this sensitive data is a definite security breach. Of course, the key to stopping such security breaches in the future is in the hands of the military. It’s simple. All applications that are used by active military personnel must pass inspection before approval for use by military personnel.
A recent study by Stanford University scientists has found out that most fitness trackers in the market can only be used to measure heart rate but not the amount of calories burnt during a workout. This means that you need to exercise caution when it comes to buying and using these devices. As a result, you are advised against using fitness trackers to judge what you eat.
This study has jolted the technological world. There have been calls for companies that manufacture fitness trackers release data indicating how their gadgets work out measurements. During the study, the accuracy of 7 fitness trackers was tested with 60 participants being asked to run, cycle, and walk. In the end, it was established that six of the seven fitness trackers could only estimate wearers’ heart rates. The six are the Apple Watch, Basis Peak, Fitbit Surge, Microsoft Band, MIP Alpha 2, Samsung Gear S2, and PulseOn.
Only five devices were able to keep track of the participants’ energy use. Nonetheless, their measurements were still inaccurate because none of them had an error rate lower than 20%. The study’s coordinator Dr. Euan Ashley from Stanford’s department of cardiovascular medicine points out that fitness enthusiasts ought to be aware of the limitations and strengths of fitness devices before buying them.
Dr. Ashley further adds that those who use these gadgets should know that what they get are only rough estimates but not the actual energy expenditure. This is not only dangerous but also deceiving. For instance, you might engage in a workout and think that you have lost 400 calories. As a result, you may relax thinking that you have 400 calories to play around with. This can particularly be an issue more so among people who tend to base their diets basing on what they think they might have burnt off in their workouts.
In as much as technology for monitoring heart rate has improved, little can be said of the effectiveness of gadgets that purport to measure individual’s energy expenditure. This may have been caused by failure by companies to use heart rates. Besides this, there is a huge difference when it comes to energy expenditure among individuals. Therefore, a single parameter cannot be used to measure the amount of calories burnt during a workout.