All posts by Daniel Davies

Factor’s Gift Guide: Supercharged sports tech for fitness enthusiasts

If you’re not sure what to buy your fitness-loving friends and family, we’re here to help. From the latest and greatest wearable fitness trackers to niche tech for die-hard sports addicts, here are ten of the best gifts for the sporty people in your life, in part four of our gift guide.


Jawbone UP3


If your nearest and dearest are looking to get fit in the New Year, then perhaps you should consider getting them the UP3 wearable-fitness tracker. The band uses sensors, specific algorithms and Bluetooth to monitor everything from heart rate to how deep and long your sleep is.


Misfit Flash


Fitness may take a bit of a backseat over the holidays, but there’s no reason why your gifts can’t make people productive. For anyone who enjoys walking, running, cycling, tennis, yoga, dance and pretty much any other physical activity, the Misfit Flash and associated app will turn fitness data into easy-to-read charts and in-depth analysis on how hard they’re exerting themselves.


Fitbit Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale


We all know Christmas is a time to indulge so the scales are probably the last thing you want to see, but with scales this good we’ll make an exception. The Fitbit Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale tracks weight, body mass and body fat percentage. It will also produce progress trends in easy-to-read charts and graphs, so if you want to track your progress over Christmas then go for it. If not, leave the smart scales for the New Year.


HealBe GoBe


For any true fitness fanatics you have to buy for this Christmas, may we suggest the Healbe GoBe. The GoBe calculates your calorie intake through your skin, monitors heart rate and tracks activity, stress levels and water intake. So basically every aspect of health and wellbeing is monitored, which is perfect for anyone who thinks of the gym as their temple.


Jabra Sport Pulse


If you need a gift for the runner in the family, then the Jabra Sport Pulse headphones are a good option. The wireless sports earbuds have been optimised for running, so they’re sweat-proof and weather proof. They also feature heart rate monitoring technology which measures your heart rate via your inner ear with clinical-grade accuracy. As well as the obvious health benefits, the earbuds are powered by Dolby sound, so all you’ll hear is bass no matter where your run takes you.


GoPro Hero4 Black


Anyone planning on filming the Christmas festivities or New Year merriment may appreciate the “most advanced GoPro ever”. The Hero4 Black features ultra-high resolution – the best image quality of any GoPro – professional audio performance and an increase in processing speed on previous iterations. The most useful feature for this time of year though are the Night Photo and Night Lapse modes that allow you to capture ultra low-light scenes, so you won’t have to miss any of the firework celebrations as the clock counts down on New Year’s Eve.


Push Band


If you’re intended recipient is a serious gym goer and see most wearables as dainty devices that measure the wrong metrics, then perhaps the Push band is the perfect gift for them. Push measures the wearer’s power, force and balance, so it’s perfect for anyone who lifts weights. The armband tracks and analyses training, and provides metrics that can help the wearer to improve technique while reducing the risk of injury.


Xmetrics FIT


Swimming fans will appreciate the Xmetrics FIT. Essentially, it’s a virtual coach, positioned on the back of the swimmers head, that provides data analysis and audio feedback in real-time. The device will also measure key metrics like lap time, pace, stroke rate and distance swam. For anyone who practices – or plans to practice – swimming on a regular basis this is a must-have gadget.


Game Golf Live


If you’re shopping for someone who plans to spend the holidays out on the golf course, then Game Golf Live is an essential purchase. Golfers place a small, lightweight device on their waist and attach individual, feather-light sensor tags to the top of the grip on each club, which will then capture player data. Information can then be gleaned from the wearer’s swing and a detailed tips section will offer possible improvements.


Fuze Gyro-Flasher


If you’re searching for a stylish and safety conscious option to light up a child’s bike this Christmas, or if you’re shopping for a young-at-heart cycling fan, you can’t really look further than Fuze’s Gyro-Flasher. It provides 2m of bright light-up LED wire that wraps around bikes or scooters to create a customised and futuristic look.

Astronomers locate radio waves almost a decade after they were first detected

Astronomers have discovered the origin of radio pulses from outer space and in the process have solved one of the great new mysteries of astronomy.

Using data-mining software developed at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa, astronomers were able to locate the Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) – bursts of energy from space that appear as short flashes of radio waves to telescopes on Earth – by sifting through data recorded during radio astronomy observations.

“Hidden within an incredibly massive dataset, we found a very peculiar signal that matched all the known characterizes of a Fast Radio Bursts,” says author on the paper, Jeffrey Peterson.

Image and featured image courtesy of Jingchuan Yu, Beijing Planetarium

Image and featured image courtesy of Jingchuan Yu, Beijing Planetarium

While they sifted through the data, in an effort to locate the FRBs, the astronomers discovered that, surprisingly, the waves exhibited Faraday rotation – a corkscrew-like twist radio waves acquire by passing through a powerful magnetic field.

Additional analysis of the signal revealed that it passed through two distinct regions of ionized gas, called screens, on its way to Earth. By studying the interplay between the two screens, the astronomers were able to determine their relative locations.

“Taken together, these remarkable data reveal more about an FRB than we have ever seen before and give us important constraints on these mysterious events,” says lead author of the findings Kiyoshi Masui.

Image courtesy of Raelene Gutierrez

Image courtesy of Raelene Gutierrez

While only 16 FRBs have ever been recorded, the astronomers believe there could be thousands occurring each day.

FRBs were first detected in 2006 as astronomers combed through pulsar survey data from the Parkes Observatory in Australia.

The find ranked among the brightest observations ever in radio astronomy, originating from billions of light-years away, and it lasted just a few milliseconds.

By locating FRBs, astronomers have concluded a search that was originally abandoned after scientists in the 1970s and ’80s failed to locate such signals.

On the likelihood of finding more FRBs, Masui said: “We have an exciting new tool to search through otherwise overwhelming archival data to uncover more examples and get closer to truly understanding their nature.”

The astronomers’ full findings are available to read in the journal Nature.