14.9 C
Friday, May 17, 2024

Smart Devices as a Digital Life Coaches

How your smart device can become your life coach.

The world is changing and in many great ways. As mobile devises become more powerful, their functionality has extended beyond simply sending emails, text messages and phone calls (yes, the order was intentional). The latest advance, and you will see this popping up everywhere are what I would like to call “Digital Life Coaches”.

Imagine having your dietitian, personal trainer, GPS (in some cases), sleep therapist, and alarm clock with you your 24/7. With devices like Lark’s larklife (http://www.lark.com) , or the Nike+ Fuelband (http://www.nike.com/ca/en_ca/lp/nikeplusfuelband) you can. Starting around $125 you get to wear a stylish wristband (how dare we call it a bracelet, as we may offend the occasional man), that digitally monitors many aspects of our lives.

Most of the bands work very similar and are based around an accelerometer and software on your computer, online or your smartphone; here is a quick rundown on the Nike Fuleband and LarkLife.


The Nike+ Fuelband tracks your all-day activity to help you do more.  Here is a quick overview of the Fuelbands key features:

TRACK YOUR DAY: Through a sports-tested accelerometer, Nike+ FuelBand tracks your daily activity including running, walking, basketball, dancing – and dozens of everyday activity. It tracks each step taken and calorie burned. It also tells the time of day [a neat feature].

SET A DAILY GOAL: Decide how active you want to be by setting a daily NikeFuel goal. The band’s LED display lights up from red to green showing your progress throughout the day.

SEE YOUR PROGRESS: Visualize your daily activity to see when you’re most active – and when you’re not. Nike+ helps you understand your activity patterns to help you do more. Progress is available online or via a smart phone such as the Apple iPhone.

STAY MOTIVATED: Receive achievements and rewards as you do more. Get on a streak, exceed your goal, and hit milestones along the way, and tell the world by sharing your activity and achievements through Facebook, Twitter and Path [interesting, I am not familiar with Path, will need to check it out!]

Overall, my impressions with Nike+ Fuelband is that it is catered more to active, physical fitness over every day personal life balance.  That is where larklife takes over.


I have been interested in Lark for a while now when I first got wind of their Lark Pro – Personal Sleep Coach that silently wakes you through a vibrating alarm clock. The Pro version, includes a sleep coach that monitors information like length of sleep, time, and patterns, to help improve your sleeping patterns. Lark has expanded its lineup to provide 24 hour life coaching with their LarkLife. Lark’s LarkLife is your all-in-one exercise, diet and sleep coach. LarkLife monitors your daily activity to help you: exercise smarter – Tap into your optimal exercise time and make your workout work for you; eat smarter – Get insight about what to eat and when, so you feel more energized and keep a healthy weight; sleep smarter – Improve your sleep and wake up more refreshed without bugging your sleeping partner; energize smarter – Pick up your productivity at work and at home with tips on how to focus and feel energized.

Some very cool features in the LarkLife include:


  • Step / Distance Tracking: At the end of the day, you’ll know how far you’ve gone, how sedentary you’ve been, how each day compares to the last, and how that compares to the average person, so you can make improvements the next day.
  • Exercise Logging: Easily keep track of the type of exercise, the amount of time you spent doing it, the distance you covered, the calories you burned and when you started and stopped. Larklife is so smart, it can even tell if you went for a walk or run and will log it for you automatically, so you can compare activity and calories burned across different exercises.
  • Calories Burned: See how many calories you’re burning based on your activity each day. Since managing calorie use is important to maintaining focus, mood and productivity, Larklife helps you modify your thinking and behavior around being more active.
  • Fitness Alerts: Get a nudge to move if you’ve been inactive for a while. Larklife makes it easier to stick to a fitness routine with alerts that help you stay on track, as well as find ways to squeeze more movement into your day.
  • Expert Fitness Coaching: Developed with top experts who coach pro athletes and business executives, Larklife’s activity tips reinforce positive behaviors and help you to learn new ones to incorporate into your daily routine. By getting more consistent, effective activity each day, you’ll notice improvement in your energy levels and your health.


  • ONE BUTTON DIET LOGGING: Log meals with the press of the button and pick the food group it belongs in. The simple diet logging helps you keep track of your meals and snacks to keep your energy up and work toward a healthy weight.
  • HYDRATION TRACKING: Easily track your daily water intake. With just one tap, you can log a serving of water. larklife helps you track the water you drink and reminds you to have a glass when it looks like you haven’t had enough, so you can get the most out of your exercise and your
  • MEAL ALERTS & REMINDERS: Easily track your daily water intake. With just one tap, you can log a serving of water. larklife helps you track the water you drink and reminds you to have a glass when it looks like you haven’t had enough, so you can get the most out of your exercise and your
  • EXPERT NUTRITION COACHING: Meal tips are designed by top nutrition experts. Learn about the super foods and eating habits that help you maintain a healthy weight and stay energized throughout the day. The smart accelerometer in the sensor tracks your daily activity level, which larklife translates into expert nutrition coaching for your optimal meal times and the types of foods you should eat.


  • SLEEP TRACKING: At night, the smart accelerometer becomes a comfortable sleep sensor that determines your sleep duration and quality, as well as when you’re falling asleep, awake or tossing and turning. Getting good quality sleep is the foundation of energy and the key to maintaining focus during the day.’
  • ACTIGRAPHY: Used widely by sleep clinics to track sleep quality based on activity, actigraphy tracks millions of micro-movements every minute, and then calculates exactly how long and how well you’ve slept. Developed with Stanford sleep specialist, Cheri Mah, larklife shows you the changes you can make to sleep better.
  • SILENT ALARM CLOCK: Dynamic vibration patterns gently nudge you awake while others around you sleep. Gentle vibration can reduce heart rate variability, stress levels and blood pressure spikes—all of which are known to cause that groggy feeling in the morning. Great for couples, roommates, the hard of hearing and deep sleepers.
  • SLEEP ALERTS AND REMINDERS: It can be hard to keep a consistent bedtime, no matter how good it is for you. Get recommendations for when to head to bed in order to sleep better and feel your best the next day.
  • SLEEP COACHING: Stanford sleep specialist, Cheri Mah, developed expert sleep tips to give you advice and encouragement that helps you stick to a consistent sleep schedule and a high quality of sleep. Discover the little triggers you may not have known about that make a big impact on how you sleep at night and how you feel the next day.


  • Productivity Break: Timing breaks can help you get a fresh perspective and actually make you more productive when you get back to work. Larklife recommends when and how to spend your break to get back feeling refreshed.
  • EXPERT PRODUCTIVITY COACHING: Refresh tips use expert-based guidance to help you to discover the things that add more energy to your day. Whether it’s a new hobby or a phone call with an old friend, Larklife knows that energy and wellness come from more than just the physical. Increasing your productivity starts with feeling more refreshed.


As both products rely extensively on supplementary software to provide your results, which affords both companies a huge advantage of being able to implement new and interesting features  without the need for fancy hardware upgrades. Through a simple iPhone update or website enhancement, as examples, new features could be added to either device. Overall, both products look very cool; however as I need to spend my own money to test them out, it is still a tough call which I am going to buy. The Nike FuelBand looks cool, the LED screen is a very nice touch and almost had me sold with the “coolness” alone. However, Lark, and especially the sleep coaching has held my interest for a while.


Mark Hanlon


Mark is an avid photographer, Starbucks addict, motivated cyclist, struggling runner, and rocking single parent living outside of Toronto, Ontario. Living with two chronic ilnesses, Crohn’s Disease and Diabetes, life for this Transportation Planner and Registered Professional Planner (RPP) can be an interesting mix.