Design and Tech

Qardio Core Is the World's Most Advanced Heart-Rate Monitor

This heart-rate monitor with pending FDA approval will count your every heart beat and breath, and it could become an invaluable training tool for serious athletes

Qardio Core Is the World's Most Advanced Heart-Rate Monitor

The Core's data is so good, doctors can use it to give you medical advice. Photo: Qardio

Most heart-rate monitors capture just some of your heart beats, then create an average to provide workout data. That system works just fine for training, but Qardio wants to make it even more accurate with its new Core, which captures every single beat, plus your respiration rate (how fast you breathe in and out), giving users a much more robust way to measure how their heart responds to exercise.

It's so good that the chest strap has pending* FDA approval: which means the data could be used by doctors to give wearers medical advice. It's the first step toward bringing high-level heart-rate monitoring to people outside of a lab setting. “We see how your heart is responding to the workload at a lab-quality level,” says Alexis Zervoglos, Qardio’s chief business officer.

Theoretically, all this additional information will help amateur athletes build better workouts. For example, with the ability to track every heartbeat and their respiration rates, users can measure their V02 max much more accurately. Users can also watch how quickly their heart rate returns to normal after exercise—key in determining proper recovery. What's not clear yet is whether Qardio's companion app will be robust enough to help users parse all this info without the help of a trainer. 

In addition to heart-rate, the Core uses an accelerometer and gyro to watch running form (are you slouching?) and measure cadence. The same sensors also monitor oscillation (to optimize stride length), and respiration and stress levels. There’s onboard memory, too, so you can exercise without bringing your phone along, and the battery's good for up to two days.

Price still hasn't been announced, but our guess is that it will be competitive with the highest-end trackers from companies like Polar, Garmin, and Suunto. At 7.3 inches wide, 3.4 inches high, and a half-inch thick, it's bigger than most heart-rate chest straps. But when I tried it on at CES this week, I found it surprisingly comfortable. 

Bottom line: This much data is likely overkill unless you're training hard. But if you are looking to fine-tune a fitness plan, it would be a very valuable tool. 

*This story has been updated to reflect a change about FDA approval.

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