Google launches kids Fitbit with gaming features from Mashable


Google is looking to gamify physical activity for kids 7 and older with a smartwatch that also provides a digital tether to their parents. In other words, the Fitbit Ace LTE, which debuted Wednesday, aims to make everyone happy.

Kids who like video games but maybe aren’t so fond of exercise can try a smartwatch that attempts to combine the two activities. A library of original arcade games encourage and reward movement and play. In general, the emphasis is on consistency and effort, not achieving perfect activity streaks.

A fishing game called “Smokey Lake,” for example, asks the wearer to cast a line and reel it back in. When they run out of digital bait, the wearer must walk a certain number of steps to earn more. The watch logs a wide range of physical activity, but by design it doesn’t include common exercise or health tracker metrics, like calories or heart rate.

Parents skeptical of screen time and mobile phone use who also want their kids to be active and independent may be drawn to the Fitbit Ace LTE’s safety, privacy, and communication features. Through the new Fitbit Ace app, parents can call, text, and voice message their children on an Android or iOS phone, in addition to seeing their child’s real-time location. Parents also control and approve their child’s contacts. Access to the arcade games can be restricted during school time, or any time you choose.

Available for preorder at the Google Store or Amazon, the Fitbit Ace LTE retails for $229.95, plus the cost of a monthly ($9.99) or annual ($119.99) data plan called Fit Ace Pass. The watch does not require an activation fee, data plan through a wireless carrier, or the purchase of a SIM card.

Google is billing the device as the first smartwatch the company has designed for kids, emphasizing that it has been built from the “ground up” with digital privacy, safety, and well-being in mind. The Fitbit Ace 3, which is also for kids, doesn’t offer calling or texting from the watch on its own, nor does it offer gaming options.

With the Fitbit Ace LTE, Google appears to be taking seriously widespread criticism of how digital spaces and devices aren’t designed from the outset with youth safety in mind. The new watch isn’t discoverable by strangers, which means that kids shouldn’t get unsolicited messages or become friends with someone they don’t know by wearing it.

Google says there are no third-party ads or apps on the device. Location data, which is shown only to parents, is discarded after 24 hours. Activity and movement data is automatically deleted after a maximum of 35 days. Google says that it will not train its algorithm on user data.

The company has included features to boost engagement, including a customizable creature called an eejie (think Tamagotchi). The character becomes healthier and happier the more a kid reaches their movement goals. When they complete daily activities included in one of the arcade games, they get arcade tickets to customize their eejie’s clothing or home.

Whether Google has successfully struck the balance between play and safety and engagement and well-being will depend on how kids and their parents use the watch once it arrives in their household.

The Fitbit Ace LTE is available at the Google Store and Amazon starting June 5.

The post Google launches kids Fitbit with gaming features from Mashable appeared first on Tom Bettenhausen’s.

“}]]    ​Article Continues..