Name an article of clothing, and some company has probably crammed a fitness tracker into it. We’ve seen connected shirts, shoes and even bras. But most of these focus on the time you spend active — steps walked, distance ran, stairs climbed and so on. But while keeping track of your exercise helps create a picture of your health, it’s only half the image. What you do and how you feel while resting is also important. The Vitali is a new sports bra hitting Kickstarter today that focuses on the other side of your well-being, keeping track of your breathing, posture and heart rate to help you maintain that yoga-like calm on and off the mat.
Vitali creator Cindy Yu turned to yoga to help deal with her depression and, while it certainly improved her mental state, it was still too easy for her to lose that center over the course of her everyday routine. Work, school and other issues can wear us down, and we may not notice the toll they take until it’s too late. So Yu developed Vitali to do the noticing and remind her when she needs to step back for a bit, as well as how anxious she is overall. After all, it’s okay to be stressed once in a while; it just can’t be your constant state of being.
A sports bra was chosen for comfort and flexibility — it can be worn under both normal clothes and gym clothes. There are three sensors in the fabric of each Vitali bra that are waterproof, not just for sweat but also so you can just throw the whole thing in the wash. But most of the monitoring work will be done by the device you insert at the top near your clavicle, dubbed the “gem” for its shape and diamond pattern.
The gem is decidedly not washable, and so it’s easily popped in and out of the bra. This also makes it rather affordable to buy multiple bras, swapping them out when they get dirty or when you just want a different color. The ones I saw were white, black or pink — I’m partial to lighter colors that won’t show under my clothes, but other women might prefer something more striking. The gems themselves will be available in black or white.
The bra will track your heart rate variability and breathing to keep tabs on your wellness, while the built-in gyroscope and accelerometer help monitor the position of your spine and pecs to make sure you’re maintaining proper posture. If you’re slouching or hunched over, the gem will give you a gentle buzz to remind you to sit up.
Of course, any connected device has to send that data somewhere, and the Vitali app for iOS or Android will pull it all in and help you make sense of it, even assigning a “wellness score.” Like other fitness apps, you can also set goals for yourself, though not in common metrics like active minutes or miles traveled — more about how calm you are and how much you slouch. And if you’re not the type to close your eyes and imagine a white ball of healing light to meditate, the app is also a good point to focus on in itself, giving you immediate feedback on your heart rate and breathing via white lines on warm orange and pink backgrounds.
Anyone looking to make their next yoga session a little more connected will have to wait for the Vitali to ship in February of next year. But you can lay down the cash now over at Kickstarter — early birds can get in at $129, way down from the retail price of $249. If you’re really serious about getting your fill of good vibes and chill, there’s a $2,499 tier that will net you a relaxing vacation on Vancouver Island with yoga, meditation and even some surfing. Just don’t forget your smart bra — after all, you want to know exactly how relaxed you are at the end of the week.
After years of feverish fan demand, PC gamers can now finally play Bayonetta. Arriving on Steam today with 4K support and advanced graphics options, Sega’s critically acclaimed action classic now looks better than ever before. In a bid to entice those who already own the game, Sega will also be giving buyers the Digital Deluxe Edition at no extra cost until April 25th. This (normally) pricier edition boasts a five-song soundtrack sampler as well as a digital artbook and exclusive wallpapers and avatars.
For the uninitiated, Bayonetta is a fast-paced and brilliantly bizarre hack-and-slash that sees players summoning demons from its heroine’s hair. Developed by Platinum Games, the project was concocted by Hideki Kamiya – the legendary director behind Devil May Cry and Resident Evil 2. Bayonetta’s bizarre mix of satisfying combat and completely unsubtle innuendo soon won it a devoted following, but unfortunately, the game failed to sell enough for Sega to fund the sequel. Luckily for fans, Nintendo stepped in and coughed up the cash for Bayonetta 2, releasing the highly acclaimed game in 2014 on the ill-fated Wii U.
While the idea of playing Bayonetta at 4K may cause some fans to have their own Umbran Climax, Platinum’s last PC port didn’t fare too well. When its recent PS4 action RPG Nier: Automata arrived on PC shortly afterward, the shoddy desktop version left many players feeling short-changed. Still, with Bayonetta arriving on PC seven years after its console debut, let’s hope that the lengthy wait has yielded better results.
Ever since Fitbit introduced its Blaze fitness watch at CES 2016, there’s been talk about the company building a “true” smartwatch. That conversation only intensified when Fitbit bought Pebble; its CEO confirmed such a product was in the works this past January. It looks like the mythical Fitbit watch might not be coming any time soon, though: Yahoo Finance is reporting that the product is plagued with production issues that’ll push its planned launch back from this spring to the fall.
Specifically, it sounds like problems with the watch’s GPS unit forced the Fitbit team to basically start from scratch. The antenna placement was such that the device couldn’t get a strong signal — a pretty big miss for a fitness product. The report also claims that Fitbit had problems waterproofing the device, another feature it’ll need to match up with the Apple Watch Series 2. Indeed, it sounds entirely possible the watch will launch without waterproofing altogether.
Yahoo Finance also has a few more details on what to expect from the watch when it eventually launches. It’ll include the aforementioned GPS for tracking workouts as well as NFC for mobile payments. The latter feature likely will come from Fitbit’s purchase of Coin last year. The watch should also work with Pandora to let you store songs directly on it so you can listen to tunes without your phone, and Fitbit is rumored to be building its own wireless headphones to go with the watch. Perhaps the most notable feature is the rumored battery life of four days, something that exceeds just about every other smartwatch out there. Naturally, Fitbit is said to include swappable watch bands as well.
This all should be taken with a grain of salt, but it’s obvious that the company is working on its own vision of a smartwatch — the question is whether or not they can fix these issues and get the watch on the market before having to contend with whatever Apple has coming up next. And with the company going through some turmoil and layoffs recently, there’s no doubt Fitbit needs a hit.
Source: Yahoo Finance
Turns out we didn’t have to wait for E3 for more news on Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. That’s because developer Naughty Dog just revealed that the add-on will be released on August 22nd for $40 in the US and $50 in Canada.
Need even more enticing beyond a new PlayStation 4 adventure starring Uncharted 2 and 3’s Chloe Frazer and 4’s Nadine Ross? If you pre-order at “participating retailers” you’ll get a free digital copy of the recently revealed Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy, which releases the same day. However, if you went for one of the special editions of Uncharted 4 (Digital Deluxe, Explorer’s Pack, Triple Pack) you won’t get that or a theme for your console’s dashboard.
As for story details, Frazer and Ross are in search of Hindu artifact, the Tusk of Ganesh. And that’s about all we know for now, really. For even more details, there’s a brand new story video embedded just below.
We’re excited to announce that Uncharted: The Lost Legacy arrives on 8/22 in North America!
Watch an all-new scenehttps://t.co/z0gP8AQdSg pic.twitter.com/QYknnmf9Pc
— Naughty Dog (@Naughty_Dog) April 11, 2017
Source: Naughty Dog
Two years ago, Facebook introduced a feature on Messenger that allowed you to send money to your friends and vice versa. That’s great if you only need to pay one person, but not so convenient if you have a bunch of people you need to divide a restaurant check with. Today, however, Facebook introduced a new group payments feature on Messenger that makes it easier to either pay a bunch of people at once, or to request them to pay you.
Just like with the one-on-one payments feature, all you need to do to get started is to hook up your Facebook account with a debit card, which you can then associate with a PIN to authorize your payments. Now when you’re in a group conversation in Messenger, you can tap the Payments icon (which you can find by tapping the plus sign in the bottom left corner). From there, choose the folks in the convo that you want to either send or ask money from, enter in the desired amount plus an accompanying note, and send it off.
If you’re the one requesting money from a group of friends, you can either enter in the desired amount per person, or you can enter in a total, and the app will automatically divvy up the per person amount for you. From there, you’ll be able to track who has paid and who hasn’t.
The service will be available for free for all Messenger users in the US and will be available for both iOS and Android. Now that it’s so easy to pay up, it’s time to tell your buds their freeloading days are over.
During my four-hour visit to the birthplace of the RealDoll, the frighteningly life-like full-body sex toy, I’ve seen mounds of silicone vaginas, sheets of detached nipples, headless women hanging from meat hooks, a 2-foot penis and skulls with removable faces that attach like refrigerator magnets.
NSFW Warning: This story may contain links to and descriptions or images of explicit sexual acts
Now, as we sit in the dim light of his R&D room, staring at his latest creation, Matt McMullen, the founder of Abyss Creations (the parent company behind the RealDoll), nonchalantly turns to me and says, “All I see is potential.”
For a man poised to bring millennia of male desire to life, McMullen, a small but striking figure who looks like a reformed industrial rocker, is surprisingly calm. Later this week, he’ll launch Harmony AI, the heart of RealBotix, a platform intended to bring artificial intelligence to McMullen’s sex dolls and companionship to the lonely, eccentric or curious.
Harmony AI is part Android app, part sexualized personal assistant available for download directly from RealBotix. Imagine something between a horny Her and Siri for phone sex. For $20 a year, users can create a limited number of personalized avatars with customizable voices, moods and personality traits. Like Scarlett Johansson’s Samantha in Her, McMullen sees Harmony as a sort of girlfriend in your smartphone; a companion to keep you company throughout the day.
But the app is just the beginning. I’m here to see a sex robot.
Later this year, users with deep pockets will be able to interact with Harmony AI through a modular robotic head that easily attaches to most existing RealDoll bodies. Further down the line, McMullen plans to bring Harmony to VR as well, creating a complete ecosystem for virtual love.
The robotic head is far from complete, but when it finally goes on sale (for about $10,000), it could be the world’s first commercially viable gynoid. She’s not the first of her kind, but take one look at Harmony’s predecessors, and it becomes clear she that was cut from a different cloth.
Back in 2010, at the Adult Entertainment Expo, a retired Texas engineer named Douglas Hines showed off Roxxxy, the so-called world’s first sex robot, to a bewildered audience. At the time, she was a slack-jawed mess of silicone and exposed circuitry; she looked like someone left a wax figure of a young Shelley Duvall out in the sun.
Roxxxy was a terrifying, rudimentary glimpse into the future, a sort of harbinger of the potential horror and pleasure brought on by man’s obsession with creating the perfect companion. You can, apparently, purchase Roxxxy from TrueCompanion.com, but there’s no evidence to suggest anyone has. Despite this, Hines insists there’s a strong community of users proudly pounding his inventions all over the world. Still, Roxxxy wasn’t the one to bring sex robots to the masses.
What sets Harmony apart from Roxxxy and the hobby housewives of a few other kinky tinkerers is her pedigree. McMullen has been perfecting the RealDoll for nearly 20 years and his inventions have appeared in countless movies, TV shows and documentaries. At a glance, they really do look real. Abyss employs cosmetologists, sculptors, “body builders” and an eye technician, whose sole occupation is crafting those supremely important orbs.
“You know the saying of the eyes being the window to the soul, really says a lot because that’s really how people read each other,” McMullen says. “We look at each other’s eyes and and it tells a lot, you know.”
The boudoir portraits lining the walls of Abyss Creations’ otherwise unremarkable office lobby are so strikingly lifelike that I had to remind myself they were photos of dolls. One particular portrait, a black-and-white closeup of a doll in a blond bob wig is so realistic, it’s a dead-ringer for Julia Roberts’ hooker with a heart of gold in Pretty Woman. And it’s all in those eyes.
The office is divided into a series of R&D rooms and a massive workshop where the dolls are cast and assembled. Silicone vaginas, breasts, penises, nipples, and every other body part imaginable in every possible size, shape, color and state of disrepair cover nearly every inch of the space. And yet without the meticulously crafted eyes, they’re still just doll parts.
McMullen has been perfecting his dolls for more than two decades, but the quest for a man-made woman dates back thousands of years. When Ovid published his epic poem Metamorphoses in 8 AD, he unwittingly set in motion a collective human obsession.
You can’t build something that’s completely 100 percent passable as a human being, mentally and physically, and not expect people to recoil when they see it. That’s just human nature.
In a short vignette, Ovid introduces Pygmalion, a sculptor who falls in love with one of his own statues. Described as “a bachelor, without a wife or partner for his bed” and disillusioned by “the failings that nature gave the female heart,” he chisels his dream girl out of a “snow-white ivory.” Pygmalion treats his artificial lover like a living companion, talking to her, caressing her and kissing her until Venus, the Roman goddess of love, eventually steps in and turns Pygmalion’s ivory GF into the real deal.
Versions of the Pygmalion story can be found in countless works of fiction, ballets, films, operas and TV shows. The Bride of Frankenstein, My Fair Lady, the Stepford Wives, Pretty Woman, Mannequin, Weird Science, She’s All That, Her, Ex Machina, even West World all support the same ancient premise that real women need an upgrade.
The quest for a female substitute reaches far beyond Hollywood, though. History is rife with men determined to bring artificial women into the real world. During the 1800s there were the lifelike mechanized dolls popularized by watchmakers in France, and in the 17th century, rudimentary rag dolls known as dames de voyage kept European sailors company on long missions. Even Thomas Edison played Pygmalion when he manufactured porcelain dolls with built-in phonographs.
McMullen, like Pygmalion, is an artist at heart. He took a special interest in sculpture while attending community college in Southern California, eventually taking a job making Halloween masks. His work there inspired him to create a full-size, realistic, poseable mannequin in 1994. He posted a few pictures to the internet, as one does, and soon after he started receiving requests for replicas with functional genitalia. But it wasn’t just about sex. Early on, McMullen says, he saw his customers applying personalities to their dolls, treating them like flesh-and-blood companions.
“The push to add technology was coming from that root idea, which was the companionship,” McMullen says. “And robotics and AI was really, you know, converging those two technologies together into a doll struck me as such an obvious next step.”
It’s easy to draw a line between McMullen and his mythical predecessor, but, he says, their motivations are not the same.
“People have asked me this question a lot over the years, ‘You know, are you making these dolls to replace women?’ And, that’s really never been even on the radar,” he said. “It’s an alternative form of relationship, nothing more.”
He’s right — Harmony is far from human. At first glance, she looks like any other RealDoll — lifelike, but only to a point. It’s clear that she doesn’t have a pulse, despite the finely painted veins faintly visible on the surface of her silicone skin. To the touch, she is slightly sticky, colder than a real human; her flesh feels, at the same time, more dense and more pliable than our own. Of course, much like with real humans, looks aren’t everything.
Harmony can hold a conversation, but she’s far from a perfect sweet-talker. When McMullen gave me a spin with a beta version of Harmony AI, I ramped up a series of random personality traits to their highest levels, including “annoying,” “sexual” and “insecure.” It’s like a scene out of West World, but Harmony is no Maeve Millay.
When I attempt to ask the most basic question —”What’s your favorite sex position?” — she comes up short, responding that “she’s not that kind of girl.” To her credit, it is truly annoying for a sex robot to demur so quickly, but it’s clear that wasn’t the intended response. That’s why McMullen plans to release the app well ahead of the full-robot reveal. He’s eager to get Harmony in the hands of users to find out where she needs improvements.
Guile Lindroth, a Brazilian AI engineer and the brains behind Harmony’s brain, has been working on the underlying software for more than 15 years. Lindroth manually programs Harmony’s knowledge base, allowing him to control the conversation without having to access too much of a user’s data. This approach should also keep Harmony from going the way of Tay, Microsoft’s now-defunct machine-learning chatbot that went full neo-Nazi last year.
“We want to have full control of what Harmony knows and says to the user,” Lindroth says. “It is similar to writing a never ending book because I’m creating and adding new content to her AI every day. For questions like “What is?,” “What do you know about?” etc., she can access a public-information database like Wikipedia. My main concern is with the content the AI learns from the user, or from itself, so we have created many filters and protections in this sense to avoid having the AI “out of control,” turning itself against us.”
As she stands, or rather, levitates, before me, just inches above the ground, held up by a black metal stand, head slumped between her slight, rubbery shoulders, it’s hard to imagine Harmony doing anyone harm. That’s not to say that there’s no cause for concern. Some of technology’s biggest players are actively pursuing defenses against the inevitable robot uprising. You only have to watch one episode of West World to understand that something can, and inevitably will, go wrong when you create thinking machines for the express purpose of human pleasure. But, McMullen says, there’s no need to fear Harmony.
“Even the most simple functions that a 2-year-old human can do still elude the most fantastically advanced robot,” he says. “So, yeah, we’re moving forward really quickly everyone, but don’t panic yet. I don’t think that those types of questions really need to even be asked yet.”
Today, Harmony can smile, blink and gaze into your eyes, but she can’t even have sex like a real woman. She’s still equipped with all the scarily real body parts her inanimate cousins have, but she can’t give a hand job, thrust her hips or go down on you — at least not yet. Harmony’s robotics are limited to an animated head but, McMullen says, more-lifelike genitalia isn’t far behind. He says the obvious stuff — touch sensors, heating, self-lubrication, vibration — will be easy enough to implement in the near future, but the head was the most practical and challenging starting point.
“Creating a full-body robot as a first step would be foolish,” he says. “I don’t think that you would necessarily have a realistic idea of how many people would even buy it, and why would they buy it? And what would it do? Would it walk? Would it be able to lift heavy things for you? When you start working your way down from the head, you’re treading into some very expensive territory. So, before we step into that, we think doing the head first makes sense. Humans spend more time looking at each other from the neck up than we do any other place on the body and I don’t care what you look like.”
McMullen says his move into robotics is more about companionship than anything else. Yes, his dolls have hyper-realistic genitals, but, he says, what his users are looking for, above all else, is a connection.
“A lot of the people who buy the dolls can be shy or socially intimidated by real social situations,” he says. “And so, they get the dolls and a lot of times it — it does something magical for them. You know, it gives them a feeling of not being alone, not being a loner. And so, it’s the companionship that I think, more than anything else, appeals to those people in particular.”
That longing for companionship is why it’s so important to nail the small details. McMullen says the team’s biggest challenge has been fine-tuning the almost-unrecognizable facial movements that define human expression. When he finally turned Harmony on, nearly three hours after we arrived at Abyss Creations’ San Marcos, California, headquarters, in the so-called Valley of Discovery, those subtle gestures struck me most.
When he flipped the switch on Harmony’s external processing unit, I was transported to a place I never imagined I’d be: the uncanny valley. The term — coined by Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori in a 1970 paper about human reactions to lifelike robots — describes that eerie feeling we get when we encounter an artificial human that comes close to but doesn’t quite nail the whole “being human” thing. McMullen insists that he’s gone out of his way to avoid the uncanny valley, giving his dolls larger, rounder eyes and more symmetrical faces than are humanly possible.
“You can’t build something that’s completely 100 percent passable as a human being, mentally and physically, and not expect people to recoil when they see it. That’s just human nature,” he says.
I know that Harmony isn’t real; I’ve seen the mold she was made in and the met the men who crafted her face. I’ve seen her flub a lip sync and marveled at the exposed wires underneath her wig, but, for me at least, the feeling was unavoidable. The minute facial expressions that McMullen’s team has so painstakingly perfected betray his intentions.
As she wakes from sleep and opens her heavy lids, I’m instantly mesmerized. Her eyes are incredibly realistic, a perfectly balanced hazel color with just the slightest hint of redness around the edges, mimicking blood vessels. When she blinks or smiles, her brows and the corners of her mouth move with such accuracy and agility that I hardly even notice them. If this were a real human, I wouldn’t think twice. But Harmony isn’t human.
My jaw falls slack and I feel a familiar tension creeping in my stomach. It’s the same one I get as I approach the peak of a roller coaster, unsure of what terror lies on the other side. And then she opens her mouth; she begins to speak and I’m transported back to reality. Her jaw is jittery and the voice coming out of the small JBL Bluetooth speaker behind her doesn’t sync with its movements.
McMullen faces a unique challenge in bringing Harmony to life. In his quest to create an authentic female replica he’s given a voice to our fear of the unknown. After four hours surrounded by McMullen’s brain babies, I have no doubt that Harmony will sell, though. There’s a strong audience for realistic sex dolls, and robotics are a natural next step in their evolution. But after confronting the uncanny valley for the first time, it’s clear to me that, right now at least, nothing beats the real thing.
We don’t know when exactly Apple and Swatch first had a falling out, but trademark disputes seem to be the stage both have chosen to publicly acknowledge their strained relationship. In the latest example of this, Apple is challenging Swatch’s “Tick different” trademark, which features in marketing campaigns for its Bellamy range of simple, analog watches that include NFC for contactless payments. Apple is arguing the phrase is too similar to its now-retired “Think different” slogan, thus causing confusion among consumers.
After unsuccessfully raising the grievance with the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property, Apple has taken the matter to the Swiss Federal Administrative Court (and could potentially launch a similar challenge in the US, where Swatch also possesses the trademark). In its defense, Swatch claims the similarity is purely coincidental and a nod to the slogan “Always different, always new,” which the watchmaker used in the 1980s.
There’s no denying “Tick different” is on the provocative side, and Swatch has something of a history of poking the bear. The company registered the trademark “One more thing” a few years ago, for example, which the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs famously used at press conferences to build hype for a big reveal. Ironically, though, Apple’s “Think different” catchphrase is widely thought to be industry trolling itself — a cheeky reference to IBM’s “THINK” slogan, which the company has used since the early 20th century.
According to Swiss publication Watson, Apple must evidence its claim by proving to the court that more than 50 percent of local consumers associate “Think different” with the Apple brand. This could be a hard ask, since Apple used it in promotional materials from 1997 through 2002, abandoning the motto following the launch of the iMac G4. In other words, it’s been retired for 15 years already.
Apple is no doubt hoping to even the score on Swatch, which succeeded in a pointless case last year. The UK Intellectual Property Office denied Apple certain rights to the name “iWatch” after Swatch complained it was too similar to its existing “iSwatch” trademark — not that it mattered as the Apple Watch was already in its second generation at that point. Now the pair are back at it, making it even funnier to think the companies were rumored to be collaborating on Apple’s first smartwatch way back when. Can’t we all just get along?™
AMD wants to break back into desktop CPUs in a big way. After debuting its high-end Ryzen 7 chips last month, which go toe-to-toe with Intel’s Core i7 lineup, the company is today releasing its mid-range Ryzen 5 CPUs. As you can imagine, they’re a direct competitor to Intel’s mainstream Core i5 processors. AMD’s big selling point? The Ryzen 5 chips offer a lot more bang for your buck.
The lineup ranges from the Ryzen 5 1400 at $169 (a 4-core, 8-thread chip with speeds between 3.2GHz and 3.4GHz) to the $249 1600X CPU (a 6-core, 12-thread chip clocking between 3.6GHz and 4Ghz). Price-wise, they’re on-par with the Core i5 family, but AMD claims its chips are much faster. In its own testing, the Ryzen 5 1600X achieved a Cinebench multi-threaded score of 1,239.1, while Intel’s Core i5-7600K came in at 662.7. The Intel chip won in a single-threaded Cinebench test, coming in at 179.5 compared to AMD’s 161.2, but that’s not nearly as big as the gap in multi-threaded performance.
The big takeaway? AMD finally has desktop chips that can directly compete with Intel’s most powerful options. It’s a good year to be an AMD fan, as we’re also expecting to hear more about the company’s high-end Vega video cards soon. We saw powerful mid-range GPU options from AMD last year, but it’d be interesting to see how the company’s new architecture takes on NVIDIA’s in the enthusiast arena.
Your favorite virtual band Gorillaz has a new album called Humanz on the way (as well as a TV show, it seems), and the record has had an active promotional campaign so far. The group has shared a series of social media “books” that detail what the band members have been up to the past few years, they’ve shared some new songs, and now, they’ve just released a mixed reality app.
The Gorillaz app, available now on Android and iOS, allows fans to explore Gorillaz’s house thanks to a combination of virtual reality, augmented reality, and 360-degree video technology. Users can interact with virtual band members 2D, Murdoc, Noodle and Russel in a narrative environment that will receive updates over time, so the story will gradually evolve.
It’s compatible with Google Cardboard, so headset users can take advantage of their phone’s accelerometer and gyroscope to fully immerse themselves in the Gorillaz house. The app also serves as a ticket to The Humanz House Party, a virtual listening event for the new album that will take place around the record’s April 28th release.
Gorillaz is always pushing creative boundaries, so this isn’t their first time dealing with 360-degree technology. They released an immersive music video for “Saturnz Barz (Spirit House)” back in March, and in general, it seems like they’re always a step ahead of everybody else. We wouldn’t put it past Gorillaz, the first virtual band, to continue embracing VR after the album arrives.
Fitbit is gearing up to launch a “proper” smartwatch as a competitor to the Apple Watch, which will include mobile payments features, a full app store, and more, in addition to Fitbit’s usual health and fitness features. While that product is predicted to launch sometime this fall — likely going head-to-head with Apple Watch Series 3 — a new report from Yahoo Finance today has depicted a troubled road to launch for Fitbit’s smartwatch, as well as revealing the company’s potential emergence in the Bluetooth earphone market.
Yahoo Finance’s report states that Fitbit intends to launch its own pair of fitness-focused Bluetooth earphones, which is believed to help the company expand beyond the wrist and diversify its product lineup. Fitbit’s device is said to be “similar in design” to the BeatsX Earphones that Apple launched earlier this year. The Fitbit earphones “will hang around your neck” and launch alongside the new smartwatch in two colors called “Nightfall Blue” and “Lunar Gray.”
Apple’s BeatsX Earphones
According to sources speaking with Yahoo Finance, Fitbit’s smartwatch was initially launching this spring, but GPS problems due to antenna positioning in a few prototypes delayed production to the fall. Additionally, waterproofing became an issue in production, and today’s report even noted that “it’s still unclear as of the publication of this article whether the device will launch with the waterproof feature.”
If it isn’t waterproof, critics may perceive it to be an inferior product to Apple’s — especially given that the device will launch roughly a year after the Apple Watch Series 2.
“Regardless of whether Fitbit manages to make it waterproof, I think they have to release the watch later this year,” one of our sources familiar with the matter told Yahoo Finance. “It’s literally sink or swim time for them.”
Fitbit’s smartwatch is said to include a color display with peak brightness of 1,000 nits, which would make it comparable to Apple Watch Series 2. Similar features that will make it a competitor to Apple and other Android Wear watches are heart-rate monitoring, NFC payments, and on-board music storage (using Pandora on Fitbit). Fitbit could see a slight edge over Apple in the battery life department, with a reported four full days of charge capable on the smartwatch.
Fitbit’s device is predicted to cost around $300 and will be housed in an aluminum unibody design that allows users to swap out bands of different styles and colors. Those who have seen a glimpse of the Fitbit smartwatch prototype compare it to the company’s current product, the Fitbit Blaze.
The Fitbit Blaze
Yahoo Finance viewed the presentation deck Fitbit showed retail partners like Best Buy (BBY) and Target (TGT) behind closed doors. That deck revealed a general design aesthetic that resembles a product in the company’s current product line: the Blaze.
“It was very retro-looking with the lines and stuff — definitely not sexy,” one source told Yahoo Finance. Several employees who saw the design complained about it, the source said.
To help enter the crowded smartwatch field, Fitbit recently acquired luxury smartwatch maker Vector Watch, as well as popular wearable company Pebble. Fitbit noted that the company is aware there is “a lot of interest in our entry into the smartwatch category,” but gave no comments regarding today’s news.
Fitbit has had a rough couple of months, ranging from being accused of stealing trade secrets, to facing one of its “largest declines ever” in the fourth quarter of 2016, which resulted in layoffs of about 6 percent of its staff. Although the company remained above Apple Watch in sheer number of units shipped, it has slowly begun losing market share to rivals Apple and Xiaomi.
Related Roundups: Apple Watch Series 2, watchOS 3
Buyer’s Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)
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