Withings Activité activity-tracking watch

ActiviteWithings has announced its new Activité watch with built in activity tracker, though it’s not due to ship until fall (when it’s likely to face challenges from Apple and Google).  It looks like a normal watch, and is even powered by a normal watch battery (size CR2025 if you’re curious, which last about one year).  Note the 0-100 dial though…that helps you track your activity goals.  Withings is not new to this scene; I’ve been using their Pulse activity tracker for over a year now and really like it.  Throwing those electronics into a watch body could be a really nice solution for those who want that combination and not a full ‘smart watch’.  At $390 it’s not cheap compared to activity trackers, but you really need to compare this to nice watches to justify its price.

For more info, go to Withings’ website or check out their press release here.

Activity tracker for dogs?

beagleSo I was joking with my wife that someone should make an activity tracker for dogs.  It seemed like a useless, stupid idea.  Then someone went and did it?  Amazing.  But then, the Pet Rock was a stupid idea too, and, well, I wish I had done that.  But some stupid ideas should remain in the recesses of our mind (the Jump to Conclusions Mat, for example).

So anyway, there’s an activity tracker for dogs now.  True story.  It’s the Whistle, and costs $129 (note – you can get an entire dog for less than that if you’re not too picky).whistle  As a novelty gadget gift, it’s pretty awesome, but I really fail to see the value it brings beyond that.

It straps to about any collar which is nice, and is waterproof which is really just common sense for the target demographic.  It tracks your dog’s rest and activity throughout the day, naturally syncing to a smartphone app.  Surprisingly, the company recommends it for use on dogs greater than 10 pounds…which makes me question the use of stainless steel in the enclosure rather than lighter aluminum?  But oh well.  The battery should last around a week, at which point you can charge it via a USB cable.

So yeah, I’m a skeptic…but my Beau, my beagle pictured above, would be happy to test one out if they’ll send me one for review! 🙂

You can buy one at the link above, or at PetSmart.

Smartwatches at CES2014

As expected, CES saw the introduction of a few new smartwatches, all hoping to grab marketshare and build sales momentum before the rumored Apple iWatch hits the market later this year.  Intel showed off a reference design powered by their new Edison chip, which is likely to be popular with OEMs.

Meta smartwatchThe Meta smartwatch is targeting the premium end of the market with style and a higher price (TBD, but likely more than $200).  Functionally, it offers similar remote-display capability as other smartwatches, though it sounds like Meta is putting a lot of attention into producing a watch that is comfortable and more easily integrated into your life.  We’ll see.

Pebble metal smartwatchPebble took the guts from their smartwatch and wrapped it in a couple of different metal options at a $250 price point.  It sounds so far like a pretty welcome change that was done right.  The bigger news, though, is that Pebble will finally be opening up an App store soon, and it’s the apps (or lack thereof) that have been the bane of every smartwatch on the market to date.

polarThe Polar V800 integrates GPS with a typical smartwatch feature set, to provide all around functionality for those with active lifestyles.  I regularly use a Garmin Forerunner to track my running so at first glance this sounds great, but users of those Garmin devices will be familiar with how quickly the battery will die when GPS is active.  Polar claims a 14 hour battery life when GPS is active (or 50 hours in what they call lower power GPS mode…I’m not sure what that is, I assume just infrequent GPS updates).  So it might work OK as a smartwatch, but I’m not convinced that the bulk of this will be worth it, I’d rather strap on my Garmin when going for a run, and use that in conjunction with a slim smart-bracelet instead.  Maybe when I see the V800 in person I’ll change my mind.

On the smartwatch horizon for 2014 are two 800lb gorillas ready to enter the ring.  The first up will be Google, expected to release their smartwatch very soon.  Later in 2014, it’s almost certain that Apple will release a smartwatch as well, and if you ask me, that’ll happen before WWDC to help get developers on board with it – the strength of any smartwatch is ultimately measured by how the apps use it, so Apple will want to tap that resource to help them dominate the market.

2014 is shaping up to be a fun year in wearable technology!

Movea Fitness Band

Movea fitness bandYes, it’s yet another wrist-worn activity tracker, this time the Movea G-series.  They’re claiming to be the most accurate wristband, able to even detect the posture of the user.  However, this is only a reference design at this point, awaiting a manufacturer to step forth and bring this to market or incorporate its technology into their own product.  A vaporware product like this is readily dismissed, yet if you poke around Movea’s website, you’ll see they’re also providing the platform to OEMs to incorporate gesture-based control into interactive TV experiences.  With this wristband, they’re showing off one of the critical pieces of the puzzle, to allow for gesture-based TV control…and I think this is a market we’ll see devices addressing in 2014 (Apple iWatch).  Read more at The Verge.