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O'neill mp3 compatible vestI’m browsing a wakeboarding magazine as I spot a life jacket (or vest) with built-in mp3 capability. Simply plug in your mp3… your favorite tunes… and hop off the boat.

So I wonder, where are Sportswear in-built gadgets going?

I mean in 2005, Adidas released “intelligent cushioning”.

Call it intelligent clothing; the sports shoe (adidas_1) senses the cushioning level on every step, determines whether its too soft or too firm, then adapts itself to provide the right level of cushioning.

Or how about Nike capitalizing on iPod’s explosion by introducing its “Nike+ Air Zoom Moire” in 2006 (You’ve probably seen these around).

It’s essentially footwear that’s designed to talk to your iPod while you run… so you keep track of your time, distance, calories burned and pace which are stored on your iPod, displayed on the screen and even played through its headphones.

And… while we’re talking iPod…

How about a washable, water-resistant iPod remote control?

iPod Remote control for outdoor sports

We’re talking outdoor sports where you wish to keep your iPod protected yet listen to your favorite tunes. It’s a flexible armband wireless remote for your iPod (SportCommand by Belkin).

Plus other examples such as NuMetrex™ introducing those Heart Rate Monitoring Sports Bras a few years ago.

With sensors knitted directly into the fabric giving it extra comfort – and the new sleeveless tank top looking even more fashionable.

What can you expect next?

How about standing in front of a mirror and running through a variety of sports shoes, different colors, different models… without changing your own shoes?

That’s what adidas has done with its “mi innovation center” in France found at Avenue des Champs Elysees. In effect, your stand in front of a virtual mirror… point out the adidas model you wish to try on a computer screen… and have the mirror display your feet in the chosen shoe model!

Would that save you trying dozens of shoes at a time?

(It’ll probably speed up deciding on color and look… yet, personally, I gott’a wear and feel my sport shoes before buying)

Here’s another one…

How about seeing your heart rate every time you wear your sports sunglasses for an extra 7 grams?

That’s what one German company (Rodenstock) is developing for release in 2009. The idea is to display stopwatch and heart rate data on the left edge of the lens while taking up minimum space from the left eye’s field of view. (see here)

Plus you’ve got alarm clocks that’ll monitor your sleep cycle and save you those bad groggy mornings… and clothes (Nano Dew) with vitamin E and special enzymes that’ll give you an anti-aging effect.

Out of all this… what hi-tech sportswear excites you the most? What do you find missing (or wish could be invented over the coming years)?

M. Jamal

P.S. Check out this video to get an idea about the adidas “mi innovation center” in Paris.

Chocolate has been a guilty pleasure we all secretly indulged in ever since we were kids, when we were constantly warned of its nasty effects on our teeth.

Growing up, our parents said it was a sure-fire formula for hyperactivity and sleeplessness, until adolescence came along and we stayed off it days before prom night because it was definitely a recipe for acne disaster.

Despite all the stop signs, we just can’t get enough of it.

Chocolate seems to be the tamest of all secret pleasures because it gives us comfort yet it does no harm to others.

But does it really do harm to your body?

Death By Chocolate
woman eating chocolate
This dessert name says it all, but don’t worry – it’s merely a marketing ploy purported by the restaurant chain Bennigan’s to entice diners to partake of something that “tastes so good that it can possibly be dangerous.”

In reality, it isn’t true that chocolate can cause cavities and tooth decay if the teeth are properly brushed and flossed; nor cause hyperactivity, as an ounce of milk chocolate only has 5 mg of caffeine, compared to an average cup of coffee’s 100-150 mg; and neither can it cause acne on its own merits.

It’s not even addictive, at least not in the sense that alcohol, nicotine, or other drugs are. On the contrary – studies on the health benefits of chocolate are providing encouraging results.

How Chocolate Can Actually Be Good For You

Having something that tastes so good and is at the same time beneficial for our health is simply too much. Is it at all possible?

Researchers at Harvard recently tested the effects of cocoa – chocolate’s base – on 136 participants, and they found that the substance improved blood flow, lowered bad cholesterol, and decreased platelet stickiness.

When this stickiness is reduced, the clotting that causes heart attacks and strokes is minimized.

The flavonoids in cocoa were found to be responsible for these results, as they seemed to prevent cell inflammation and damage.

Hypertension is also alleviated by eating 3.5 oz of dark chocolate daily, says Dr. Blumberg of Tufts University.

Chocolate contains antioxidants that block chemical changes in bad LDL cholesterol that cause clogged arteries. In fact, it was found that chocolate performed better than Vitamin C as an antioxidant and at detoxifying LDLs.

No significant effects were detected on those who ate white chocolate, however.

The most plausible explanation for these results was that white chocolate doesn’t have any cocoa nor flavonoids in it.

And here’s a stunning counterargument to the age-old acne-and-chocolate theory: Three months of drinking half a cup of a flavonoid-enriched cocoa beverage gave two dozen women smoother and moister skin.

The German researchers who conducted the study believed that the flavonoids helped improve the blood flow to the skin, significantly giving it a healthier look.

Even chocolate milk has been found to assist recovery during a workout.

Athletes who drank this beverage in between their workouts were found to come up with better endurance and fatigue test scores than those who drank regular sports drinks.

The brain can also benefit from chocolate, according to researchers at the Wheeling Jesuit University. Due to an improved blood circulation to the brain, chocolate could actually improve problem-solving skills, memory, reaction time, and attention span.

Perhaps one of the most intensive studies on the potential benefits of chocolates is being conducted by the mammoth conglomerate Mars, Inc. In the 1990s, the confectionary giant suffered a major setback when its suppliers in Brazil were waylaid by a fungal crop infection.

Since then, Mars started spending on studies to determine cocoa beans’ chemical makeup and perhaps mimic its composition, just in case another similar catastrophe happened in the future.

It was a tall order, but along the way, the studies branched out into the development of functional cocoa – that is, cocoa used to make fortified foods that are good for the health.

At present, they are seriously working on a flavanol-rich cocoa that can be touted as a product with cardiovascular and cerebral benefits.

Given America’s worsening problem of childhood obesity, they’re a long way from turning chocolate around from being everyone’s secret indulgence to a type of functional food, but we’re all crossing our fingers.

M. Jamal