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Wearable maker Jawbone is making its first entry into the payment market by announcing a deal with American Express to create a payment-enabled fitness tracker, named the Up4. Enabled by NFC technology, Up4 is the first wearable device after Apple Watch to incorporate mobile payment into its functionality. Given the significant competitions in the space, Jawbone certainly needs this to stand out.
Head image taken from Jawbone.com
Are Bluetooth headsets relevant anymore? Just a few years ago, early adopters were sporting them much the same way they’re now chasing Google Glass and Coin unified credit cards. At $99, Jawbone is trying to distance itself from the stigma it has acquired of clunky earpieces. To do it, it’s integrating two-way communication between the device and the phone in ways it hasn’t in the past: proper voice control allows users to talk to the device from the headset – and be spoken to by Google Now and Siri – for everything the smartphone is capable of including directions, appointments, text messages, etc. The idea is to keep the phone in the users’ pockets, and to control the device with already-accepted voice commands; in other words, to turn the headset into a piece of efficient, wearable tech. And, at the size of a piece of gum, it’s not going to be as jarring to wear as, say, a pair of glasses that force you to look up and to the right. It’s also noise-cancelling, ensuring that if you want to listen to music, you can. As the public becomes increasingly comfortable with voice control as a mechanism for interfacing with technology, the ultra-simplistic, minimal interface of the Jawbone might just resurface.
After several attempts, Jawbone is finally putting out a Bluetooth-based piece of fitness tracking hardware: the Up24. Jawbone has previously refused to put out Bluetooth devices because of both battery life and physical constraints, but upon the wider acceptance of Bluetooth Low Energy, Jawbone has finally warmed to the idea of a BLE device. Now, whether it’s too little too late for Jawbone – who risked falling behind to competitors FitBit – will have to be seen in the sales of the product this holiday season.
With so many wearable devices, it can be hard to keep up which is why Jawbone is integrating with other apps to become the centralized quantified self platform. Leveraging their API, Jawbone could integrate with other services like Nike+ or Withings to begin aggregating every piece of health data imaginable. The result would create an incredibly powerful health tool that could produce a wealth of content and experiences brands could be a part of.
Jawbone UP 2.0: Still Not Wireless, But A Marked Improvement