Connected walking canes could be next for fitness tracking

With the fitness tracker craze in full swing, it's no surprise that tech companies are looking to expand the audience.

At Mobile World Congress, Fujitsu showed off what could be the fitness-tracking canes of the future, as reported by Pocket-Lint. One of the prototype walking sticks provided GPS directions, in the form of arrows on an LED screen. Another prototype measured the user's heart rate.

Fujitsu's GPS concept cane

Both walking sticks sent data back to a host computer, which could be monitored by a relative or doctor. The computer provided an overview of the walking route and the vital signs of the user.

Fujitsu's connected cane is still a long way off from production, and there are plenty of unanswered questions, such as how the device would stay connected and how much it would cost.

Still, it's a clever idea, and another example of how ordinary objects can become more useful by connecting to the Internet. (Yes, there's a commonly-accepted a term for this, called “Internet of things,” which I can't stand because it seems utterly meaningless.)

Other connected devices

We're seeing the concept blossom in other areas, beyond fitness-related devices like Jawbone Up and Nike+ Fuelband. Typically unconnected gadgets like cameras and watches are gaining new functionality by getting online, and smart homes are inching toward the mainstream with devices like the Nest thermostat and connected lightbulbs.

The challenge for Fujitsu's cane is that it would need constant Internet connectivity, either by tethering to a smartphone or by having its own mobile broadband connection and data plan. That means wireless carriers would likely need to be involved in bringing something like this to market.

Hopefully we'll all still be alive by the time that happens.

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