In the world of health and fitness tracking, smartphone connected devices like Fitbit Flex, Jawbone UP, and Basis Band have scoped out the wrist as the ideal place for accelerometers, pulse, and galvanic skin response sensors to give people feedback about their workouts. In the mobile computing sphere, startups like Pebble and giants like Apple alike are developing smartwatches. A smartwatch is a wirelessly-connected watch that serves as a second screen for a smartphone, located on the wrist for easy access. Or, in the case of a few startups, the smartwatch is a whole mobile computer on the wrist — no phone required. ABI Research predicts more than a million smartwatches will ship in 2013.
With only two wrists per person, which class of device is going to win out? Or, perhaps more likely, will the winning smartwatch be the one that includes health and fitness tracking capabilities? Here’s a roundup of the some of the most talked about smartwatches — on the market, coming soon, or rumored — with a special emphasis on their health and fitness tracking capabilities.
The Pebble smartwatch was a Kickstarter sensation to which many tech writers have attributed the modern rise of the smartwatch. Making use of e-paper technology, the wristworn device connects via Bluetooth to Apple and Android phones to display notifications about incoming calls, text messages, emails, and social media notifications, among other things.
Pebble picked fitness app Runkeeper as its first third-party app integration, allowing users to stop and start tracking and get updates on their run statistics on their wrist. Another Pebble app turns the watch into a cycling computer. The watch itself does not include GPS or an accelerometer, instead relying on the user’s smartphone.
“What are situations where it is more convenient to check a wristworn computer than to check a phone in your pocket?” Runkeeper CEO Jason Jacobs told MobiHealthNews at the time. “There are lots of situations where you don’t need a wrist computer, but this happens to be one situation where it does make sense. [Pebble chose RunKeeper as its first app partner] because it a showcase of the value that Pebble is building.”