Hands on: Tao’s WellShell is like a Wii Fit board for your hands

Fitness tech had an entire corner dedicated to it at CES this year, and even then examples kept popping up elsewhere on the show floor, such is the interest in this growing niche. Of course, there was a dizzying array of wrist and even head bands on display for the fitness freak, but our favorite toy refused to fit into a single category. It’s the Tao WellShell, a super fun portable gadget that actually gets you moving, rather than depressingly highlighting those times when you can’t be bothered.

The name is apt, because at the moment it is indeed shaped like a shell. At first it’s difficult to see how it works, or in what way it could possibly benefit you, but once you connect it up to your phone or tablet it all starts to become clear. The WellShell is like one of those all-in-one fitness machines, but without the need for any space, and can be used in a variety of ways to get your muscles working. With the app fired up, you’re presented with a lengthy choice of specially designed exercises, all of which come with explanatory videos and even on-screen 3D models to ensure your posture is correct.

I prayed my feeble tech journo muscles wouldn’t let me down in front of the cute instructor.

We were shown, and rather embarrassingly had to perform, one of the simpler exercises on the list. You clasp the WellShell between the palms of your hands right in front of your chest, making it look like you’re about to pray. I prayed my feeble tech journo muscles wouldn’t let me down in front of the cute instructor. The idea is to push your hands together, exerting force on the shell’s sides. On the tablet, a mini game of a downhill skier appeared. You vary the force to keep him in-between the flags, which is a cunning way to get you pumping the non-existent iron. Think of this thing like a Wii Fit board for your hands.

Inevitably, I was less than impressive on my first go. (Whoever used it before me must have been a man-mountain, or at least, I hope they were.) The WellShell noted how pathetic I was, and then adjusted the intensity way down to the lowly Andy Boxall levels I needed for the next go round. As you get better, it’ll make the whole thing harder. The WellShell starts to get fun as you try the different exercises, which expand to see you clasp it in different positions, with a single hand against the body, or even between the knees. It’s surprisingly versatile for something without weights, handles, or pulleys. You can even get competitive by streaming the game to a big screen, so two people can play against each other.

There’s plenty of feedback once you’ve completed your WellShell workout, so you can keep track of your progress, and watch yourself get stronger. The app also has everything you need to become healthier, including a meal planner and tracking diary, plus all the usual monitoring of your stats. The shell itself is a little clunky, but it’s only a prototype, and the next version is a cool chrome disc with a rubberized cover to make it comfortable to press against your body.

How much difference using the WellShell on its own would make to anyone’s physique isn’t clear. Not that it matters because it’s so much fun to use. Plus, its monitoring of your personal ability makes it really accessible to everyone, not just fitness freaks who want a fix when they can’t get to the gym. For the rest of us, any exercise is better than none, so why not get some geeky enjoyment out of it at the same time.

The Tao WellShell well deserved it’s Best of CES finalist nomination, and it has just the right mix of serious fitness and geek appeal to do well. It’s expected to go on sale during the second half of 2014. The great thing is, you can use it in the privacy of your own home, or anywhere you like really. However, if you’re using it in public, like say, on the floor of the biggest consumer tech show in the world, we’d suggest a few practice runs beforehand.

Health & Fitness

In search of the fountain of youth, beauty companies turn to tech

Beauty tech is a fairly new concept, but at CES 2019, companies such as Olay, L’Oreal, and Neutrogena were fully embracing it with all kinds of gadgets that promise to give you glowing skin.
Gaming

Play your games whenever you want with a MicroSD card for your Nintendo Switch

The Nintendo Switch uses cartridge-based games, but its internal storage may fill up quicker than you would think. Here's what you should consider when picking out a MicroSD card to expand your Switch's storage capacity.
Deals

Here are 20 portable tech gadgets you’ll want to use every day

If you're looking for portable tech to keep you charged up while on the go (or for some great small gift ideas), we've rounded up 20 must-have gadgets. You'll find everything from a mini gaming controller to a folding Bluetooth keyboard.
Wearables

The best Apple Watch bands and straps to stylize your timepiece

If you have an Apple Watch, you know how easy it is to take off the strap it came with, so why not buy yourself another one? Here, we've gathered the best Apple Watch bands we've seen so far. There's something for everyone.
Mobile

How to choose an iPad in 2019: A practical guide to Apple’s tablets

Selecting an iPad from Apple's lineup can be intimidating, but it doesn't have to be. Our comprehensive guide should put the numbers and specs in practical, easy-to-understand terms. Find your ideal iPad with the help of our guide.
Mobile

Apple resurrects the iPhone SE with brand-new units starting at $249

Apple quietly started selling the iPhone SE again, at even lower prices than when it was discontinued four months ago. Brand new units of the 32GB version are on sale for $249, while the 128GB version is going for $299.
Mobile

The Cat S48c is the phone designed for construction workers (or the clumsy)

The Cat S48c is a rugged smartphone that's available from Sprint. It mixes midrange specs with a huge battery wrapped in an extremely tough and protective body. If you need a phone that can survive the construction site, then this is it.
Android

Popular Android navigation apps are just Google Maps with ads, researcher says

A malware researcher found that 19 free Android navigation apps on the Google Play Store were nothing more than Google Maps, but with ads. One of the apps asked for a payment to remove the ads, while some of them presented security risks.
Mobile

Google Maps will now help drivers stay within speed limits, avoid speed traps

Google Maps will now start showing speed limits and speed camera locations, so that drivers will not be flagged for speeding tickets. The new features arrive to the app years after they were introduced in Waze.
Mobile

Text up a storm with the best messaging apps for iOS and Android

These days, most people tend to favor digital messages over phone calls. We have the best messaging apps that allow you to share photos and documents, send text messages, and more with end-to-end encryption.
Mobile

If you want Samsung's advanced folding phone, be prepared to pay a lot for it

Samsung has been showcasing bendable display tech for a few years and now a folding smartphone might finally arrive. The Galaxy X, or perhaps the Galaxy Fold, may be the company's first example. Here's everything we know about it.
Mobile

Do these case images confirm a side-mounted fingerprint scanner on the S10 E?

It won't be long now; With 2019 underway, the Samsung Galaxy S10 is almost here. Before it arrives, here's absolutely everything you need to know about all three of Samsung's next flagships.
Mobile

T-Mobile 5G rollout: Here is everything you need to know

2019 will be a huge year for T-Mobile. Not only is a merger with Sprint likely, but T-Mobile is also in the midst of building out its next-generation mobile service. Here's everything you need to know about the T-Mobile 5G rollout.
Mobile

Verizon 5G rollout: Here is everything you need to know

Verizon is in the midst of a massive 5G rollout. In addition to fixed 5G service, it will also begin deploying mobile 5G in the coming months. Here's everything you need to know about Verizon's 5G network and when it will be in your town.