The world’s first strapless, continuous heart rate monitor you can wear on your wrist

Heart rate monitoring is useful and beneficial to athletes, helping them optimize their training, control their intensity level, and preventing over- and under-training. But any runner knows: efficients heart-rate monitors involve chest straps and bulky armbands or wristwatches to get the job done.

Creator of the MIO watch, Dickinson, has partnered with Philips Electronics to create a new watch that’s also an heart rate monitor. Called the Alpha, it is the world’s first strapless, continuous heart rate monitor you can wear on your wrist that doesn’t involve a chest strap, and, in testing, has been tested EKG-accurate even while you are running at performance speeds of up to 20km/h (12mph)!

The Alpha has a simple white-framed face and comes with a breathable black strap. It tells time, has a timer, gives both visual and audio alerts when the wearer moves in and out of heart-rate zones, and offers a “last run” statistics review.

alpha watch

How It Works?

The device is really intuitive with just two buttons to push and only the most essential features:

  • Continuous heart rate display
  • User settable heart rate zones with visual and audible alerts
  • Data review (total exercise time; average heart rate; time “in zone”)
  • Timer
  • Clock
  • Bluetooth Smart connectivity

Two light beams and an electro-optical cell “sense” the volume of blood under the wrist skin that pulsates in the rhythm of the heart, and so does the signal from the electro-optical cell. This signal is processed by an advanced electronics circuit and passed on to a highly specialized computer program that is embedded in the watch. To avoid the interferences caused by the arm movements while walking or running strongly with the electro-optical signal to the point that it is no longer possible to extract the heart rate from it, the watch has been provided with a separate motion detector. The computer program is able to use the information from this detector to compensate for the disturbance that is generated in the electro-optical signal by walking or running motions. As a result, the device can display an accurate heart rate even during motion-intense activities.

“The goal with this tech was to eliminate the muscle noise,” Dickinson said in an interview. “The wrist moves so much and there’s so much ambient noise that in the past it’s been hard to get just the heart rate.” She said that paying a visit to the Philips company in the Netherlands two years ago convinced her this device could be done.

alpha watch 2


Alpha is compatible with all smart phones featuring Bluetooth 4.0. (iOS and Android) and certain fitness apps, like RunKeeper. Unfortunately, the watch doesn’t offer built-in GPS or an accelerometer, so it can’t measure speed, distance or pace and you’ll have to use your favorite smart phone app. to get this part of the job done!


This post is also available in: French


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