Fitbit Becomes The First Wearable Company To Integrate With Amazon’s Alexa

What Happened
Another day, another new skill added to Amazon’s virtual assistant service Alexa. Today, Fitbit unveiled its integration with Alexa, which allows users to get their daily fitness stats, such as steps taken and heart rates, simply by asking their Alexa-enabled Amazon devices. The fitness wearable maker also designed some contextual messages so that Alexa can offer users words of encouragement throughout the day.

What Brands Need To Do
While Fitbit is the first wearable company to integrate with Alexa, it is not the first one to add a conversational touch to fitness wearables. Moov, for example, created a fitness tracker that talks to you during workouts via wireless earbuds to guide you through the exercises and reads you key biometric stats. Nevertheless, by integrating with Alexa, Fitbit has added another dimension to its product and a new touchpoint to engage users. As Amazon and the developer community continue to build out Alexa’s capabilities and make it an increasingly brand-friendly platform to reach consumers at home, brands would be smart to get on board with those devices via integrations or partnerships.

For more information on how brands can develop authentic brand voices and navigate the new rules of discovery, check out the Conversational Interfaces section in our Outlook 2016.


Source: CNet

Can Smartphones Replace Fitness Wearables?

Read original story on: Engagdet

A new study by The University of Pennsylvania shows that smartphone apps’ step counts are reasonably on the mark, whereas fitness wearables are much less reliable, with wide error margins. This, coupled with the news of Fitbit advising users suffering from skin rash to take off its products for a while, raises the question of whether smartphones are adequate substitute for fitness wearables. After all, it’s the data these devices collect that matters, not the devices themselves.

At least for now, the answer is a tentative “no”. First off, smartphone screens are getting bigger and bigger, which makes them inconvenient to carry around, especially while exercising. Moreover, it may take a few more years for smartphone to be equipped with advanced biometric sensors that are currently on some wearables. That being said, wearables are designed to be worn, and brands need to do a better job at making them truly wearable.

Fitbit Officially Charges Forward With Three New Devices

Read original story on: The Verge

Over a week after their existence was leaked, fitness tracker leader Fitbit has officially announced three new wearable devices. The Fitbit Charge is an update to Fitbit’s previous Force fitness tracker, but the other two devices — the Charge HR and the Surge — include some powerful new technology that should allow users to get a picture of their health all day. Given their recent decision to opt out of Apple’s HealthKit, however, it seems like Fitbit might need to do more than just hardware updates to retain the user base.

Why FitBit Chose Not To Support Apple’s HealthKit, For Now

The wearable fitness device company Fitbit has stated in a recent post on its community forum that it has ‘”no current plans” to support Apple’s HealthKit system. It’s an odd decision given that Fitbit Flex was prominently featured in Apple’s keynote that introduced HealthKit, and the reasons behind this choice might go beyond fear of user takeover by Apple’s shining new platform, as the company makes a profit from selling the tracker devices anyway.

The true reason of the opt-out could be about the health data that Fitbit currently hosts on its own platform. By denying support for HealthKit, the company appears to be aiming for a tighter control over the data its devices harness, despite potential detriments to the user’s experience. Still, considering the high demand for integration voiced on its forum, we won’t be surprised if Fitbit decides to join Apple’s party down the road.

Fitbit Becoming First Fitness Band To Support Windows Phone

As the current 3rd place in the race of mobile operating systems, Windows OS often gets neglected by app developers in favor of iOS and Android. But after getting a fashion make-over, Fitbit, the current forerunner in fitness tracking wearable, decides it’s time to cover all bases by releasing a mobile syncing app for Windows Phone 8.1., with all functions in tact. Sources cite the new Phone’s improved Bluetooth support as the reason that Fitbit moved in, but most likely, that’d be true if other fitness band manufacturers follow suit and create apps for Microsoft’s mobile platform as well. Obviously, just as advertiser always follows the audience, developers first go where the users are before branching out. And for now, Windows Mobile OS is usually not the starting point, but a mere afterthought. And Microsoft still has a lot to do to bridge that gap.

Fitbit Gets A Fashion Makeover by Tory Burch

The flirtation between tech and fashion continues as Tory Burch introduces a new accessory collection, which includes a pendant, a bracelet, and a pair of silicone bands, all designed to help you wear your Fitbit Flex with style. Now all the techy fashionistas and fashionable techies can finally wear a fitness tracker to a nightclub without being constantly asked about it. Applying fashion to elevate and normalize new tech devices has always been Apple’s motto, which they are certainly following for the much-rumored iWatch. It is good to see the wearable tech companies catching on as well.

More Reality TV To Incorporate Activity Tracker FitBit

CBS is integrating Fitbit Flex activity trackers into this season of “Big Brother,” letting viewers track the contestants’ indoor movement and other physical data. Although this is the first time a wearable technology will be incorporated into prime-time TV, several other reality shows, as suggested by the source, also seem eager to jump on the tracking bandwagon as well (curiously absent from the list, however, is CBS’s Emmy-winning global traveling competition show The Amazing Race). The jury is still out on whether, or rather, how fast would our voyeuristic demand of documenting surveillance in reality entertainment overflow into our personal daily life. Nonetheless, reality TV might just very well become the foreground for normalizing consumer wearable tech.

FitBit Partners With HTC

As health and fitness trackers become more and more of a mainstream item, smartphones and brands continue to look for new ways to bring them into their offerings. HTC’s new HTC One (M8) isn’t the first such item to do this with their phone, but it’s the first to partner with category-wide leader FitBit to bring their software onto all new HTC One devices. It means that the FitBit software will be pre-installed, so users will be much more inclined to use FitBit’s built-in software rather than heading to the Google Play store for their own. The FitBit software won’t just work with the Force or Flex; FitBit’s software will also work with any of the tracking sensors in the HTC One itself – so whether users use FitBit’s hardware or the technology built into the phone, FitBit wins. The goal, of course, is for FitBit to be to health and fitness trackers what Kleenex are to Tissues, and by integrating their software within popular smartphones at the point of purchase, they’re certainly well on their way to getting there. But whether they will be undercut by bigger companies yet to release their products – i.e. Apple – remains to be seen. Nevertheless, this is big news for both FitBit and HTC.

Barriers To Wearable Adoption

Wearables were undoubtedly one of the categories at CES with the most growth potential. With embedded sensors, these wearables can measure everything from calories consumed to steps taken and hours slept. As this Fast Co article points out, however, there are some serious roadblocks to mainstream adoption, chiefly battery life, technical limitations, and “aesthetic drawbacks.” Despite these issues, there are a few things that brands need to take note of in the wearable space concerning media. First and foremost, wearables require a glanceable UI that packages information in an immediately digestible and actionable way. Secondly, successful ones let data tell stories like Nike+ ability to share runs with friends or ZombieRun which marries fitness tracking with a Zombie adventure game.  

Fitbit Updates Wristbands

Fitbit appears set to launch a new personal tracking device called the Fitbit Force. It’ll incorporate many of the features that make it’s One tracker clip so popular – including calculating altitude, 24 hour step calculations, and sleep. The Force will also include a digital watch face, effectively turning it into a fitness-focused smartwatch, a notable advantage over competitors in the wearable tech space. It’s set to be priced at $129.95, which is $30 more than the Flex. There’s no release date yet, but it should be available for the holiday season.