Lisa
Kennelly

The Invoke Labs team has been keeping our eye on wearable technology as it’s grabbed headlines and dominated conference talks over the last few months. From Google Glass to Jet by Recon Instruments to startup incubators focused solely on wearables, the “Quantified Self” trend has gone far beyond glorified pedometers

It’s been hard to ignore right here in our office, as well – it seems like every day another person shows up flashing a fancy wristband and bragging about their point total or step count.

With that in mind, we’ve dug a little deeper into the features of three popular fitness-focused wearables to look at what makes them interesting – not only for consumers, but also for product development and integration.

Fitbit

Fitbit app

What it is: This wireless activity tracking device is available as a carry-along (the One and Zip) and just came out with the Flex, a wristband version. It syncs with an app on both iPhone and Android, and users can earn badges for various accomplishments and share goals through social media. It can also be paired with the Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale to track weight, body fat percentage and BMI.

What we like: Invoke Labs developer Denis, who has a Fitbit One, likes the sleep tracking and Bluetooth 4.0 syncing, which allows for an extended battery life with each charge. He says: “I started taking stairs whenever I can, and my sleep pattern improved because once I know what’s happening, I know how to correct that.”

What we don’t love: A tradeoff is that the new Flex, while more convenient in wristband form, doesn’t track the stair count like the One.

What’s more: As a product line, it’s well thought-out beyond just the devices themselves, with an affiliate program, open API and corporate wellness arm.

Price: $99.95 for the One or Flex

UP

What it is: The wristband activity tracker from Jawbone, a company better known for its audio products like the Jambox, bills itself as providing “a holistic approach” to wellness. It comes in a spectrum of colours, and partners with a smartphone app to track movement, sleep, meals and moods.

What we like: Alex, Ops/HR manager for Invoke Labs, chose it because it offered significantly more functionality than other options on the market, and finds the gamification of daily goals inspiring. She says: “It’s a fun and interactive way to learn more about your personal habits and identify habits that are contributing (for better or worse) to your overall health and wellness.”

The open API allows it to tie into a variety of other iOS apps like Runkeeper and MapMyFitness. This creates an added benefit to the device because it expands the user experience to encompass bike ride mapping, food libraries, and enhanced sleep and mood data. Users can also join “teams” and watch what friends are tracking and achieving.

Jawbone also just acquired BodyMedia, a wearable sensor company, which indicates they’re in it for the long haul as wearable tech evolves.

What we don’t love: What the UP lacks is wireless syncing – users have to plug into their computer via the headphone jack.

Price: $149

FuelBand

Fuelband app

What it is: The heftiest wristband comes from the biggest player in the market: Nike. The Fuelband tracks daily activity and calories burned and syncs with the Nike+ app, and offers an LED display (with a clock!) Through the app, users can connect with friends and share goals on Path, Facebook and Twitter.

What we like: David Tedman, Invoke’s co-founder, says the simplicity of the device is part of its appeal. “I actually bought one for my mom and she loves it. She’s not an early adopter of tech product (she still uses a burner as her cellphone) but she picked it up, wears it all the time and likes hitting the daily goal.”

The introduction of the Fuelband was a smooth segue for existing users of the Nike+ running app; however, Fuelband activity and Nike+ running activity are displayed separately (though on one dashboard.)

Additionally, Nike recently opened up its API to allow developers to explore ways to integrate with it, though so far the only apps to incorporate it are Path and LoseIt. Invoke Labs’ own Sprout at Work is currently in the trenches exploring future integrations as part of the Nike+ Accelerator TechStars program.

What we don’t love: The feature set is much more limited than its competitors (no sleep tracking, for example) and its bulky design makes wearing it more obtrusive during non-workout activities.

Price: $149

What is your wearable of choice? Which do you think has the most potential for growth and integration with other products?

Posted On May 17, 2013