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Mio’s new fitness tracker wants you to ignore your step count

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Slicing through the truth

Vancouver-based Mio Global is known for being one of the earliest wrist-device makers to use optical heart-rate tracking technology. Now, in an increasingly competitive wearable market, Mio is trying to stand out for something else: creating a totally new metric for physical activity that ignores the "10,000 steps" rule that has become standard in consumer wearables.

Along with a new piece of hardware, Mio is rolling out something it calls the Personal Activity Intelligence score, or PAI. It’s a personalized score that factors in age, gender, resting heart rate, and maximum heart rate, so whether you’re a fitness buff or mostly sedentary, your PAI score is supposed to reflect your own exertion levels — unlike 10,000 steps, which Mio now says is an "inaccurate way to measure activity, as not all steps are created equal, and not all exercise involves steps."

Mio's new activity tracker is called Slice

Mio says its algorithms for its PAI score are based on the HUNT study, an extensive longitudinal health study conducted between 1984 and 2008 at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, with tens of thousands of participants. One of the findings of the study, for example, suggests that resting heart rate is an important predictor for overall cardiovascular fitness, and a high resting heart rate is associated with increased cardiovascular risk over time.

As for Mio’s new hardware, the activity tracker being introduced at CES is called the Slice. The Slice initially seems like your standard commodity activity tracker: It tracks steps, distance, calories burned, and sleep, and offers a smattering of smartphone notifications. But Mio is attempting to differentiate the Slice by making it the only Mio hardware that will display the PAI score directly on the band itself. Wearers of other Mio products, like the Alpha 2 and the Fuse bands, can see their PAI score in Mio’s updated mobile app. The Slice ships later on this year (no firm date announced) and will cost $99.

Mio is not the only wearable technology company to introduce software in recent weeks that eschews the "10,000 daily steps" rule. Last month smartwatch maker Pebble announced a new health platform that adjusts a wearer’s activity goals based on how active he or she has been recently, rather than setting the same step goal every day.

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