Thu, Jun 26, 2014 - Page 15 News List

New smartwatch doubles as a tracker of fitness, calculates calories burned, sleep

AFP and AP, NEW YORK and SAN FRANCISCO

Smart gadget specialty firm Withings introduced a fashionable Swiss-made timepiece on Tuesday that doubles as a fitness tracker.

The French company billed “Activite” as a chic watch with computing brains to track steps taken, calories burned, distance traveled and sleep patterns.

Fitness has been a hotspot in the budding trend of wearable computers, with activity monitoring bracelets or pendants such as UP24 and Fitbit finding success.

Consumer electronics titans such as Sony Corp, Samsung Electronics Co and LG Electronics Co have stepped up with smart watches boasting fitness tracking capabilities.

Apple Inc built a Health Kit into the newest version of the software powering iPhones and iPads.

“Activite” was created by designers in Paris in a spirit of “reinterpreting classical time pieces.”

It uses Bluetooth connectivity to synch with Withing Health Mate applications on Apple smartphones or tablets.

“Activite” will be priced at US$390 when it is released later this year, according to Withings.

Meanwhile, Google Inc is likely to show off an Android update, wearable gadgets and so-called smart home devices at its two-day developer conference, which began yesterday in San Francisco.

Pacific Crest analyst Evan Wilson believes Google is to unveil a new version of its Android operating system — possibly called Lollipop — with a “heavy focus” on extensions for smartwatches and smart home devices at its I/O event.

“We think Google will directly counter Apple’s recent announcements of health products (Apple HealthKit) and home automation (Apple HomeKit),” Wilson wrote in a note to investors.

In March, Google released “Android Wear,” a version of its operating system tailored to computerized wristwatches and other wearable devices.

Although there are already several smartwatches on the market, the devices are more popular with gadget geeks and fitness fanatics than regular consumers.

However, Google could help change that with Android Wear. Google may also have news about Glass, including when the company might launch a new and perhaps less expensive version of the US$1,500 Internet-connected eyewear.

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