The plethora of wearable fitness trackers (like Fitbit, Misfit, Withings, Jawbone, and others) create incredible amounts of data, and that information is being drawn into the Internet of Things (IoT). Not only do these devices provide insights into the wearer’s fitness, but they are beginning to interact with the connected devices around us and, just as importantly, with each other.
Two leading companies in the wearable fitness tracker arena have recently made some interesting announcements. Jawbone and Fitbit each have wristband fitness monitors that are water-resistant and feature continuous heart-rate monitoring. But they each have a newly integrated feature that adds to the equation.
Fitbit has embraced Multi-Tracker support, a scenario where a single user can have several wearable trackers; for example, they propose switching between a smaller tracker for all-day step counting and the larger, full-featured Surge for workouts. This plan has a few very interesting possibilities; a single user account can have one of each of the six Fitbit tracker models, plus access to “MobileTrack,” which tracks steps using only the smartphone’s hardware. Best of all, Fitbit will automatically detect when you switch between each of your trackers.
Alternatively, Jawbone has just unveiled brand a new fitness tracker: the UP4. It features the ability for wireless payments with a registered American Express card–allowing the user to pay for goods at merchants that support wireless payments. There is some suspicion surrounding Jawbone’s announcement, as the company announced the still unavailable UP3 activity tracker back in 2014. (Note: Jawbone did recently announce that shipping for the UP3 will begin on April 20th; the UP4 is simply “coming soon.”)
Both of these new features are innovative and both will have proponents and detractors–adoption of them will be the proof of success or failure. There does not seem to be any downside to the Fitbit’s multi-tracker support, while anything with access to finances carries tremendous risks.