Fitbit’s new kid smartwatch is a little Wiimote, a little Tamagotchi

Fitbit’s new kid smartwatch is a little Wiimote, a little Tamagotchi

In 2018, Fitbit launched Ace, a wearable tracker for kids. On Wednesday, it’s adding Ace LTE to the line, a device aimed at the same demographic that borrows heavily from its smartwatch, Versa. The Google-owned wearable firm is targeting the 7+ crowd with this one, focusing on gaming with Wii-style motion control, along with location sharing and messaging for parents.

Rather than offering the same sort of pure metrics the company employs to motivate its older users, the main thrust of the product is a far more literal version of gamification. The watch features a variety of different 3D games, unlocking more play time the more kids move.

[W]hether they’re a chicken in a bathtub racing through Space, or fishing for a Blob Fish in ‘Smokey Lake,’” Fitbit writes, “Ace LTE keeps kids moving. Best of all, the Fitbit Arcade updates with fresh new games every few months, so there’s never a dull moment.”

Image Credits: Fitbit

It’s not the worst way to try to get kids to touch the proverbial grass, and honestly makes me miss the bygone days of Wiimotes and Microsoft Kinects. Almost as much as I miss Tamagotchi. The once mighty electronic pets are back in spirit here, in the form of Eejies. Much like the gaming element, the customizable animals “feed” off of movement.

When activities are completed, kids earn “arcade tickets,” in a Chuck E. Cheese-style autarky, wherein they can be used to buy new clothes and furniture for their Eejie. Fitbit’s approach to accessories is far more capitalistic. The company is offering six different bands, which features DLC, including different settings.

While the Ace LTE is, indeed, designed to motivate kids to move more, the payoffs end once a certain threshold is hit, to dissuade kids from overdoing it. Fitbit is quick to note, “We worked with leading, independent experts in child psychology, public health, privacy, and digital wellbeing to design Fitbit Ace LTE to be fun, safe and helpful.”

Fitbit Ace LTE Spicy with Moovin Band
Image Credits: Fitbit

That’s the sort of stuff the company really needs to address up front, as the notion of a fitness tracker built by a data-hoovering tech giant understandably raises all sorts of red flags for people. The degree to which anyone is comfortable sticking a Google device on their children’s wrist no doubt varies greatly.

Fitbit notes that location is only shared via the app on a parent/guardian’s device, while location data automatically disappears after a day. Activity data, meanwhile, can only be stored for up to 35 days, after which point it, too, is wiped. Adding friends on the Ace LTE, meanwhile, must be done in person and with the guardian’s approval. As the name suggests, the device is available in a cellular version, so it doesn’t rely on a tethered device to function/sync. It’s up for preorder Wednesday for $230. There’s also a subscription service, which runs another $10 a month or $120 for a full year — which, if my math is correct, is the same rate. It starts shipping June 5.

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