A Wall-Mounted Sensor Can Track Your Movement Better Than a FitBit

Hsu et. al, CSAIL [PDF]

Hsu et. al, CSAIL [PDF]

The way that a person walks can contain important information about their health. In 2011, a University of Pittsburgh study found that walking speeds could predict life expectancy. Now, MIT researchers have found an easy way to monitor how fast people are walking at home, as The Verge reports.

The MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL)—which has previously debuted technology to help people learn languages and evaluate their selfies—is working on a wall-mounted sensor that can track people’s movements via radio signals. WiGait sends out low-radiation signals that reflect off a person’s body as they walk through the room, then calculates how fast that person is moving based on how the signals come back. It’s 95 to 99 percent accurate at measuring people’s walking speeds and stride lengths, according to MIT. The team behind the device claims it is more accurate than trackers like FitBit, which don't measure velocity or stride length, just step numbers. WiGait can recognize the movements of up to four different people in a room and works at distances of up to 40 feet, including through walls.

The technology could be used to study older people’s walking speeds at home to analyze their health without requiring them to wear an intrusive wristband or other wearable device. Walking speed can be an indicator of a person’s risks for future falls and hospitalizations, and WiGait could be used to monitor patients with a high risk of falling or cognitive decline, especially in assisted-living homes.

The CSAIL research [PDF] tested out WiGait in 14 different homes, and found that users tended to forget it was there after a few days, and preferred it to the idea of installing a camera-based monitoring device in their home. Most people don’t want to be recorded 24/7, but radio signals that only recognize movement might be a more acceptable way to collect data on people’s gait speeds at home, where, in the case of older people with limited mobility, they probably spend most of their time.

[h/t The Verge]

7 Massage Guns That Are on Sale Right Now

Jawku/Actigun
Jawku/Actigun

Outdoor exercise is a big focus leading into summer, but as you begin to really tone and strengthen your muscles, you might notice some tough knots and soreness that you just can’t kick. Enter the post-workout massage gun—these bad boys are like having a deep-tissue masseuse by your side whenever you want. If you're looking to pick one up for yourself, check out these brands while they’re on sale.

1. Actigun 2.0: Percussion Massager (Black); $128 (57 percent off)

Actigun massage gun.
Actigun

Don't assume you need a professional masseur to provide relief—this massage gun offers 20 variable speeds and can adjust the output power on its own according to pressure. Can your human massage therapist do that?

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2. JAWKU Muscle Blaster V2 Cordless Percussion Massage Gun; $260 (13 percent off)

Jawku massaging gun.
Jawku

This cordless, five-speed massager uses a design that's aimed to increase blood flow, release stored lactic acid, and relieve sore muscles through various vibrations.

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3. DEEP4s: Percussive Therapy Massage Gun for Athletes; $230 (23 percent off)

Re-Athlete massage gun.
Re-Athlete

Instant relief is an option with this massage tool, featuring five different attachments made to tackle any muscle group. You can squeeze in eight hours of massage time before you have to charge it again.

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4. Handheld Massage Gun for Deep Tissue Percussion; $75 (15 percent off)

Massage gun from Stackcommerce.
Stackcommerce

With five replaceable heads and six speed settings, this massage gun can easily adapt to the location and intensity of your soreness. And since it lasts up to three hours per charge, you won't have to worry about constantly plugging it in.

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5. The Backmate Power Massager; $120 (19 percent off)

Backmate massage gun.
Backmate

Speed is the name of the game here. The Backmate Power Massager is designed for fast, effective relief through its ergonomic design. Fast doesn’t need to mean short, either. After the instant relief, you can stimulate and distract your nervous system for lasting pain relief.

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6. ZTECH Percussion Massage Gun (Red); $80 (46 percent off)

ZTech massage gun.
ZTech

This massage gun looks a lot like a power drill, and, similarly, you can adjust its design for the perfect fit with six interchangeable heads that target different muscle areas.

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7. Aduro Sport Elite Recovery Massage Gun (Maroon); $80 (60 percent off)

Aduro massage gun.
Aduro

Tackle large muscle groups, the neck, Achilles tendon, joints, and small muscle areas with this single massage gun. Four massage heads and six intensity levels allow this tool to provide a highly customizable experience.

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This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. If you haven't received your voucher or have a question about your order, contact the Mental Floss shop here.


Fiona the Hippo Is Now on Cameo

Mark Dumont, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0
Mark Dumont, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Fiona the Hippo has earned her status as a celebrity. Born prematurely and weighing just 29 pounds in 2017, she became a sensation when she beat the odds and survived. Now, the Cincinnati Zoo's most beloved resident is taking her famous mug to Cameo.

Cameo is a service that allows fans to pay for personalized video messages from various celebrities. Most celebrities on the website are people, but that hasn't stopped Fiona from offering her star presence to the public.

For $100, you can request a custom video from the Cincinnati Zoo starring Fiona. A zoo staff member will recite the message while filming Fiona being adorable in her enclosure. One example video shows Fiona hanging out with her mom and snacking on some lettuce while her caretaker wishes the recipient a happy birthday.

Animal lovers who pay for a Cameo from Fiona will be supporting a good cause, too. Proceeds from the purchase will go to the Cincinnati Zoo, which is currently operating at limited capacity due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have a Cameo account, you can request your own video message for $100 here.

This isn't the first time the Cincinnati Zoo has used Fiona's popularity as a fundraising tool. Earlier this year, the zoo started selling the dung left behind by Fiona and other animals as garden fertilizer.