The Skulpt Aim isn't your typical fitness tracker. Rather than tracking daily activities, such as steps taken, calories burned, and distance traveled, this $200 tracker measures muscle quality and body fat percentage.
The Aim isn't the first device to measure these metrics. Bioimpedance scales and skinfold calipers have been used by gym goers for years to measure body fat, but the Aim is the first device to measure fat percentage from individual muscles and muscle quality, which the company defines as a metric for a muscle's strength and definition.
Skulpt uses electrical impedance myography technology and proprietary sensors to measure 12 muscles on both the left and right sides of your body. This is compared to the bioelectrical impedance technology used in many scales and even devices like the Jawbone Up3, which can be be skewed due to hydration and bone density levels. The Aim can measure abs, biceps, calves, chest, forearms, glutes, hamstrings, lower back, quads, shoulders, triceps and upper back.
Included with the device is a charging cradle, a travel pouch, and a spray water bottle. The charging cradle connects through a Mini-USB cable, which is a bit of pain given most of today's gadgets connect through Micro-USB. When you first power on the Aim you will be asked to create an account and then pair the device with the Skulpt Android or iOS app on your smartphone. This is how you can view and keep track of your muscle quality and fat percentage data.
Measuring with the Aim: Your results may vary
On the back of the tracker are 12 sensors; once you have chosen which muscle you would like to measure, simply spray the sensors with water and place the Aim on your muscle. Alternatively, the Aim is water-resistant and can be used while in the shower. This makes it even easier to use because it takes away the need to constantly wet the sensors with the spray bottle.
Once placed on your muscle, the sensors will painlessly send a small current past the fat and through your muscle. If the reading was successful, the ring around the bezel will turn from red to blue.
The first time I measured with the Aim I received some unpleasant news. Despite all of the time I spend in the gym, I measured an overall muscle quality rating of 52, which according to the Skulpt app fell in the "needs work" category. My body fat percentage, however, came in at 10.7 percent, which put my rank at the top of the "athletic" category.
Skulpt claims that the Aim is five times more accurate than bioimpedance scales, and three to four times more accurate than measuring with calipers, but I have my concerns. I know simply by looking in the mirror that I have more than 10.7 percent body fat. The bioimpedance scale I own measured me at 14 percent, while I personally measured myself with a caliper to around 16 to 17 percent.
A few days later I measured again and saw different results. This time I scored a 93 for overall muscle quality score, but my body fat increased to 23.3 percent. The next time I measured, I was at 104 muscle quality and 22.2 percent body fat. Over the course of the next month I used the Aim a couple of times each week, again with varying results. My most recent test appeared to be the most accurate, measuring my muscle quality at 106 and my body fat at 19.5 percent.
It's clear that results vary (sometimes rather dramatically) from one reading to the next. I also found measurements produce different results depending on the position of the Aim. For example, moving the device over an inch on my left abdomen resulted in a higher muscle quality score and a lower body fat percentage.
Android and iOS support
Muscle quality and fat percentage progress can be viewed in the Skulpt mobile app. One of my favorite things about the app is the full-body view. From here you can see a complete snapshot of each muscle complete with the muscle quality score and fat percentage. This allows you to see what areas of your body need work or what areas may be average, fit, athletic or "skulpted," according to the company.
Unfortunately, aside from viewing your data and updating the Aim, the Skulpt app has little to offer. Sure you can track your progress over time, but I would have loved to see some form of coaching or tips on how to improve my muscle quality.
The Skulpt Aim is simple to use, but is it worth $200? For the average consumer that answer is simple, no. Even for someone like me, a techie with a love for working out, it's a tough sell. I have some doubts on the accuracy of the Aim, and for $200 I much rather use calipers for similar body fat estimates. The muscle quality metric is interesting, but the Skulpt app doesn't provide any feedback or tips on how to improve your strength.
The Aim may be an interesting purchase for a personal trainer, but even that could be a bit of a stretch. If you really have an interest in body fat, save yourself some money, pick up a pair of calipers and keep track of your measurements in a spreadsheet.
This article originally appeared on CNET.com as "A tracker that attempts to measure muscle quality and body fat"