A forking good way to health

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hapifork reut

REUTERS

A reporter tries out the HAPIfork at the opening press event of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

With the end of January in sight, how many of you are still sticking to your New Year resolutions?

If you’re like most people, me included, by now you’ll either have abandoned them or be wavering dangerously.

The good news for us geeks is that there’s a slew of new tech to help us get back on track and, hopefully, keep us there long enough to form some positive new habits.

Here’s a selection that ticks the three most common resolution boxes: fat loss, fitness and finances.

Put a fork in it

Can a new-fangled fork really help you eat less and lose weight? A company called Hapilabs will have you believe it and, if the buzz surrounding its new product at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is anything to go by, they may have a point.

At first glance the HAPIfork looks like an overgrown toddler’s fork; it’s chunky with stubby tines and comes in a range of colours.

Despite the name, it’s got nothing to do with McDonald’s and its Happy Meals. Quite the opposite, in fact. While fast food joints encourage you to scarf down your grub and vacate your seat for new customers as quickly as possible, the HAPIfork is designed to slooooooow down your eating, chewing each mouthful for at least 10 seconds, something that I’m told has been scientifically proven to aid digestion and help you feel full on less food.

Eat too fast and the fork’s built-in sensors pick this up and vibrate to warn you to slow down, the haptic feedback that gives the utensil its name.

It also plugs into your computer to provide ongoing statistics about your eating habits and progress and even links to a smartphone app, providing a multi-pronged hi-tech approach to an age-old problem.

Run for your life

If you know your zombie lore you’ll know that the slow and the unfit are the first to die when the zombie apocalypse strikes. There’s nothing like a horde of hungry undead on your tail to bring out your inner Usain Bolt.

That’s the premise behind Zombies Run!, a clever application for iPhones and Android smartphones. Part app and part game, it promises to get you fit by sending you on a series of running missions in and around a survivors’ outpost surrounded by zombie-infested woods.

The story is narrated to you via your handset’s earphones and the app uses your phone’s GPS to track your speed and distance and to superimpose its fictional landscape on to your favourite training route.

Beginners are encouraged to start with the separate Zombies 5K app that aims to gradually build your fitness levels over eight weeks till you can average 5km in 30 minutes. At the time of going to press, Zombies Run! and Zombies 5K cost around R35 and R9 respectively, thanks to a New Year’s resolution special.

Watch the wonga

Count the cents, we’re told, and the rands will look after themselves, good advice most of us threw out the window over the festive season.

Now’s the perfect time to put in place a system to help ensure we’re on a firmer financial footing this time next year.

Personal money management tool 22seven can help you do this by automatically pulling data from your various bank accounts and presenting to you in an easy-to-understand format, helping you keep track of your cash as well as your savings debt payment goals.

Headed by founder and CEO Christo Davel, the year-old service initially met with some stubborn resistance from local banks, some of whom threatened to block it from accessing customers’ accounts, citing security risks.

Most are on board now and at least one, Nedbank, offers its own competing product, My Financial Life.

While competing platforms operate for free, 22seven charges a monthly subscription.

The company is rumoured to be in takeover talks with financial services provider Old Mutual.

If true, this would indicate a growing acceptance of and consumer demand for such tools, already popular in the recession-battered US and UK. - Sunday Tribune

* For links to all the products and apps featured here, visit GeekBeard.posterous.com or tweet me @alanqcooper with any questions or comments.


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