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KICKSTARTER: Sequent Supercharger Self Charging Smart Watch

We thought we would kickstart the week, (no pun intended…or was it?) with a look at the Sequent Supercharger, the first self-winding, self-charging, cable-free smartwatch.
It’s a Kickstarter funded smart watch designed by Swiss designer Adrian Buchmann that has even traditional watch purists sitting up and paying attention for it does for the smart watch what Seiko did for the analog watch many years ago. It runs on kinetic energy and is therefore completely cable free. The more you move around, the faster it charges. The watch is made by Swiss watchmakers, designers and engineers who have teamed up with the best partners in each manufacturing sector.
The 42mm watch is being funded energetically too. With 9 days still to go, the Sequent Supercharger has been pledged CHF617,168 from an CHF 80,000 goal.
Because you generate the energy for the watch yourself, it is 100% clean energy, and the watch includes the latest generation Heart Rate sensor, GPS tracking and notification system, which can connect by Bluetooth to a proprietary Biofeedback health & sport app.
The rotor of an automatic movement worn all day rotates about 4000 times. In the Sequent Supercharger, these rotations are fed to a patented spring barrel system, which instantaneously releases the wound-up tension to a micro generator which charges the battery. And because the watch movement is based on a traditional Swiss automatic movement, no additional charging is necessary.
The dials features an hours and minutes hand in the center, with a handy power reserve on the left (in red) and a biofeedback indicator on the right (in blue). There is also a small LED light in customizable color at 6 o’clock.
The Sequent Supercharger connects to your phone via an app which shows you where you’ve been (GPS) and your daily activity (Biofeedback, heartrate, step counter). You can also set the alarm with your watch to give you wake up calls and other alerts.
With several strap choices including American Horween leather, cordura and rubber, the price for the black or white edition currently starts at just $149.  The blue or green 316L stainless steel edition starts at $199. There’s also a transparent edition (not shown) for $299. After the Kickstarter campaign the price will start at $638.
Visit the Sequent Kickstarter page

Will Fitbit Inc (FIT) Stock Get a Boost From Its Smartwatch Debut?

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The CEO of Fitbit Inc (NYSE:FIT) recently went on record to assure those waiting for the new Fitbit smartwatch that it will include third-party app support at launch. With FIT stock down almost 29% for 2017 — extending near 90% declines since this time in 2017 — that product launch is gaining in urgency.
James Park is trying to quell rumors that the wearable maker is struggling with its first smartwatch. However, with slumping Fitbit sales and a smartwatch market that’s failing to catch fire, while remaining dominated by Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), a question remains:
Will that Fitbit smartwatch be too little, too late?
Fitbit’s Struggle to Launch a Smartwatch
We’ve known that FIT is working on a smartwatch for some time. When the company bought the assets from smartwatch pioneer Pebble last December, the cat was out of the bag. Yahoo Finance leaked images and details about the Fitbit smartwatch in May. That news resulted in a temporary bump for FIT stock. But the leak also contained claims that Fitbit was struggling with manufacturing issues and perhaps worse, that a Pebble-like app store would not be available at launch.
Then a day after the Fitbit smartwatch leak, tech management consultancy Strategy Analytics released its Q1 numbers for wearables sales, indicating that the Apple Watch had overtaken Fitbit sales to dethrone FIT as the world’s top-selling wearables maker.
Fitbit disputed Strategy Analytics’ numbers, but that report — combined with the Yahoo leak — quickly took the wind out of FIT stock and it’s been downhill again since then.
For what it’s worth, IDC released its version of Q1 global wearables sales in June. It used sales numbers supplied by Fitbit (something Strategy Analytics had not done), but still put FIT in third place, with Apple and Xiaomi tied for top spot. While Apple Watch sales are always an estimate (part of FIT’s dispute over the Strategy Analytics numbers), IDC had Apple at 3.6 million units sold, a 64.1% gain year-over-year, compared to FIT’s 3 million, a 37.7% decline.
So, even if the actual numbers are off slightly, the trend seems pretty clear.
Third-Party Apps?
CEO Park spoke to The Verge last week, to publicly dispel rumors that the Fitbit smartwatch would not support third-party apps at launch. He told the publication the smartwatch will have an app platform, and an app gallery — third-party apps available through Fitbit’s mobile app.
Leveraging Pebble’s software, FIT will be releasing a software development kit that “will make it easy for developers to build apps, ones that will be compatible with both iOS and Android devices.”
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What Fitbit needs to do to make a great smartwatch in 2017

Valentina Palladino reader comments 60 Share this story
It's no secret that Fitbit is making a smartwatch. The company signaled its serious plans with the purchase of Pebble at 2016's end and the purchase of the lesser-known Vector shortly after. Fitbit was supposed to release a smartwatch this spring, but product issues delayed those plans. Rumors suggest we won't have to wait much longer, though, as the company may release an entirely new product this fall: a smartwatch that many want to rival the Apple Watch as well as Android Wear devices.
Fitbit has plenty of reasons why it would want to confront Apple in the wearable space: Apple overtook the company as the top wearable shipper, owning 14.6 percent of the wearable market (tied with Xiaomi) in Q1 2017. But Fitbit shouldn't make an Apple Watch clone—and one could argue that it can't do so anyway. There's hope for Fitbit's smartwatch if the company takes a different approach, focusing on its roots as a fitness company while also adopting the most useful aspects of the smartwatches we have today. Here's what we know about the device so far—and what we don't know—as well as some things Fitbit should consider including in the new device.
What we know
Back in May, leaked images of the rumored Fitbit smartwatch popped up online and painted an all-too-familiar picture of what the new product could look like. The design of the wristband mimics the company's Blaze tracker (as well as the old-school Surge) with a square face accompanied by a couple buttons on the edges. It's not the sleekest-looking device, but neither the Blaze nor the Apple Watch were perceived as stylish when they first debuted. Since then, sales for both of those devices have proved users have either warmed up to the square-watch design or simply don't care enough to be deterred by it.
Further Reading Fitbit Blaze reviewed: A totally unnecessary tracker with a few cool features
As far as hardware features go, reports state the forthcoming watch will have a heart-rate monitor, onboard GPS, and NFC for payments. Including both a heart-rate monitor and GPS places the forthcoming smartwatch as more of a upgraded Surge band, and that means it'll probably cost more than $200. Reports suggest Fitbit will price the smartwatch at around $300 or less.
NFC payments is an important feature to include in the new smartwatch if it hopes to be an Apple Watch competitor. Apple Watch users can hold their device up to an NFC reader in a store to pay with a credit card they've saved to Apply Pay, so they can make purchases without an iPhone or wallet present. Fitbit is right to incorporate this into its new device, particularly if the watch is meant to be used for a morning run around the neighborhood without a wallet, with a possible drink at a coffee shop on the way home.
We know Fitbit has the technology to include NFC payments in the watch as well: in 2016, the company acquired assets from Coin, a startup that created a single card to replace your entire wallet. Fitbit had no plans to include Coin technology in its 2016 device lineup, but we're well past that threshold and will likely see it in the full-featured smartwatch.
Fitbit's new smartwatch will likely have onboard music storage as well. The company is supposedly working with Pandora to let users store music locally on the watch. The company originally planned to work with Spotify on the same project, but reports say the partnership "floundered" and Fitbit promptly turned to Pandora. Spotify made sense as Fitbit's first choice since it is the largest paid music streaming service in the world,
Another part of Fitbit's plans we know is that it's building a standalone app store that will hold third-party applications for the smartwatch. Late last week, a report from The Verge stated that the app store would be ready in time for the device's launch. An SDK, along with a few select apps, will be available when the device comes out, but we don't know which third-party apps will be the ones ready to go out the gate. (We'll discuss further uncertainties of Fitbit apps in the next section.)
Fitbit CEO James Park also stated that the apps will be available in an "app gallery" (so not really a "store") in the Fitbit mobile app. This sounds similar to the separate page in the Watch app on iOS where users can download Apple Watch apps and their mobile app companions.
Fitbit Blaze review. Video shot/edited by Jennifer Hahn. Further Reading Fitbit acquires “wearable payment assets” from startup Coin
One thing we likely won't see in the new Fitbit device is cellular service. CEO James Park has stated publicly that he doesn't see the use case for independent LTE connectivity on wearables yet. This is a wise choice because the hardware necessary for LTE connectivity adds bulk to any device; this makes sense considering the leaked images of Fitbit's watch already look clunky.
Many wearable enthusiasts have compared the rumored smartwatch to the Fitbit Blaze, but based on what we know, the device sounds more like a beefed-up Surge. Released nearly three years ago, the Surge was (and remains) the most advanced device in Fitbit's family, with a heart-rate monitor, onboard GPS, music controls, multi-sport tracking, and up to seven days of battery life. The leaked smartwatch images even present a device much more similar to the Surge than the Blaze, but the Blaze is fresh for comparison in everyone's minds since it is newer than the Surge and more flashy.
Where the Blaze prevails over the Surge is in modernity: it has a color touchscreen, on-screen workouts through FitStar integration (Fitbit owns FitStar), estimated VO2 max scores that Fitbit calls "cardio fitness levels," and guided breathing exercises. In light of the new devices Fitbit has come out with in recent years, the Surge has kind of been left on the back burner—and if everything we know comes to fruition, Fitbit could make a smartwatch that replaces the Surge entirely.
What we don’t know
The biggest question-mark of Fitbit's smartwatch is the app gallery. We now have confirmation from Park that the app gallery will be ready at the device's launch. Otherwise, we don't know much else. Fitbit leaned heavily on intelligence and technology it acquired from Pebble to make the app gallery, and we know the SDK will be Javascript-based. Fitbit is hoping Javascript will make it easier and more enticing for developers to make apps for the platform.
A possible (yet unreliable) detail about forthcoming apps is in the leaked image of the purported smartwatch (obtained by Yahoo Finance). A smiling icon of a sun marks the display, suggesting a weather app may be on the device at launch. There could also be a Pandora app featured on the watch if that's how Fitbit chooses to integrate onboard music.
Before we knew the state of the app gallery, one argument was that the new device would be DOA if Fitbit didn't have a full app store ready at launch. Apple has an app store for the Apple Watch and Google has a bunch of Android Wear-ready apps available in the Play Store, so Fitbit should be ready to step up to bat. The rollout of Android Wear 2.0 even put the Play Store on Android Wear devices, letting users download apps directly to the watch without using their smartphones at all.
The App Store revolutionized the iPhone in a plethora of immediate and long-term ways, but I'm unconvinced that app stores will do the same for wearables. This is mostly because these app stores aren't proving to be the best part of the smartwatch experience. There's a lot of skepticism on how useful onboard smartwatch apps are, and because of this developers either aren't creating apps for wearables, or they are discontinuing support for the apps they've already created. Google, Amazon, and eBay are some of the big companies that quietly pulled their Apple Watch apps from the device's app store back in May—no one really knows why, but it's believed that those apps simply weren't used enough to warrant continuous attention from developers.
  • Fitbit's $200 Blaze fitness watch. Valentina Palladino
  • Module pops out of case. Valentina Palladino
  • Fitbit's $200 (originally $250 when it was first released) Surge. Fitbit
  • Fitbit Blaze, for design comparison. Fitbit
  • The app menu, which you can customize within the Pebble app. Valentina Palladino
  • Solanum is a Pebble app that monitors work and break times. Valentina Palladino
  • Apple Watch Series 2. Valentina Palladino
  • Series 2 (black band) next to Apple Watch Series 1 (blue band). Valentina Palladino
  • Further Reading Pebble confirms Fitbit sale: Hardware is dead, software in maintenance mode
    So yes, we will get a Fitbit "app gallery," but I also expect to see smart app integration on the watch. Let's take eBay on Apple Watch for example: eBay's Apple Watch app let users track bid statuses, but is it necessary to have a dedicated app just for that feature? Browsing eBay, Amazon, or other online stores on your watch is awkward and inconvenient, so having a watch app mimic the mobile app isn't the best translation of features. A good watch app would have to supplement the mobile experience in ways that make sense for the device—currently, that seems to mean glanceable information that's easy to interact with from your wrist.
    The eBay app for Apple Watch no longer exists, but the eBay experience on Apple Watch is still quite useful. With just the mobile app installed on your iPhone, you'll get any eBay alerts to your wrist that you normally would get on your smartphone. That includes alerts when auctions you're watching are almost over, if you won or lost an auction, and more.
    In addition to third-party apps, I hope Fitbit incorporates notifications like this on its forthcoming smartwatch with thoughtful interactions to go along with them. I want to get alerts on my wrist when someone tweets at me, and I want to be able to quickly like the tweet or reply with a short, pre-fab response (the same interaction could apply to text messages, too). I'd like to get headlines from my favorite news app as well, maybe with a photo like The Guardian's Apple Watch notifications have, but I don't need or want to read a full article on a tiny watch screen. At the end of the day, the quality of the app notifications and usefulness of the wrist interactions will make or break the "smartwatch" experience of Fitbit's new device.
    On another note: one hardware issue we don't know about is if the smartwatch will be waterproof. Fitbit only just introduced its first fully waterproof device, the Flex 2, last year. But Apple set the standard for swim-ready smartwatches with the Apple Watch Series 2. For those who don't swim often, that feature might not seem pertinent. However, Fitbit will be one giant step behind Apple if it doesn't make its new device waterproof and able to track swimming.
    How Fitbit could separate its watch from the rest Guided workouts
    Assuming Fitbit makes a smartwatch that focuses on fitness, the company could do a few things to make a stellar product. Guided workouts are largely overlooked and underutilized, but they are incredibly valuable for a fitness device and for device retention in general—if you're constantly using, creating, and updating customizable workouts, you're more likely to regularly use the device that holds them.
    Further Reading Microsoft Band 2.0: Big steps forward mean you just might ditch your trainer
    Rest in peace, Microsoft Band—the wearable that handled guided workouts arguably the best out of them all. Not only did it give you your choice of over 130 workout sessions to download, but you could also create your own circuits using the Band's Web portal. Following along with the workout sessions on the band was easy, and even Fitbit mimicked this on the Blaze with the incorporation of a few (free) FitStar workouts. Making a personalized circuit may seem too complicated for the average user, but it's not that far off from streaming a workout video on YouTube created by a fitness personality. You follow along a few times, then take the individual exercises you've learned and apply them however and whenever you want.
    Guided workouts are positive in two ways. The pre-fab sessions provided by the device's manufacturer, or third-parties like FitStar or Gold's Gym, make it easier for users to work out. You have no excuse not to work out when exercise plans are sitting in the cloud waiting for you to download them and load them up on your wristband. Guided workouts also make it easier for already active users to switch up their routines. Whether that means pre-fab sessions or customizable circuits, completing different workouts will challenge your body and prevent muscle memory from sabotaging your progress.
    Battery life
    Ultimately, guided workouts will be more useful to some users than others, but a universally loved and necessary feature is a solid battery life. Most activity trackers have this down—you can get a super simple tracker with months of battery life, or a more advanced device will have up to a week of life. Smartwatches have not passed this hurdle yet. The Apple Watch Series 2 has come the closest of any true smartwatch, with up to two days of battery life (although it is highly dependent on how much you actually use the watch itself).
    Smartwatches must get to the point where they can go at least five days without more juice, putting them in competition with "traditional" activity bands. The less you have to remove a wearable, the more you'll actually wear it. But since smartwatches generally do much more than track activity, more hardware and software features are constantly draining battery life. Screen quality, the inclusion of an onboard GPS or heart-rate monitor, and standalone LTE service are just a few things that can quickly send a smartwatch's battery life from 100 percent to 0. Fitbit will be miles ahead of the pack if it can find the right balance of hardware inclusions and software features that can last more than two days on a single charge.
    Apple Watch Series 2 review. Video shot/edited by Jennifer Hahn. Music streaming
    Clever music integration is also key for a wearable meant to be used independently from a smartphone, particularly a fitness device. Onboard music storage is a feature mostly isolated to niche athletic devices or expensive wearables made by companies like Garmin and TomTom. But it's a crucial feature for those who prefer to workout sans smartphone and want music at the same time.
    Fitbit has an opportunity to make the wearable onboard music experience better by taking a different approach to the music interface. Before you can listen to music through wireless earbuds from a smartwatch you have to get those tracks onto the wearable, and most interfaces for doing that are ugly and clunky. Sometimes they aren't even in the wearable's companion mobile app. Instead, they live in an obscure Web app that you may never use for anything else other than syncing music.
    Further Reading Review: The still optional but pleasantly refined Apple Watch Series 2
    Fitbit's mobile app is arguably the most user-friendly fitness wearable app available, and, if the company can intuitively integrate music organization into it, the new smartwatch will be unique among most competitors. The Apple Watch's music app (iTunes, really) has a pleasant interface on the watch that lets you control playback from music stored on your iPhone as well as music you've downloaded to the watch. Of course, the catch is that you can only play iTunes or Apple Music tracks. Limiting the music source isn't exclusive to Apple—and if rumors are true, Fitbit's device may only play music from Pandora.
    There's a similar opportunity to renovate music controls on the device itself: a lot of wearables can control music from your smartphone with pause, play, and skip buttons on their touchscreen. Most wearables with onboard music have similar controls, but Fitbit could make that on-device experience better by adding album art or track lists so you can pick and choose the songs you want to hear (and not rely only on shuffle).
    Diet tracking
    The final thing Fitbit could add to the smartwatch is an easier way to track daily food intake, and this is the wild card of the bunch. Fitbit doesn't emphasize its diet tracking features even though they've become robust over the past few years. You can track food and drink within the app and set weight and body-fat percentage goals, and the app will provide a calorie-based diet plan for you to reach that goal in a certain period of time. You can also connect third-party services like MyFitnessPal and Lose It!, making it easier to accurately log caloric intake and expenditure and see those values in one place in the Fitbit app.
    Lose It! has a feature on its Apple Watch app that lets users add a "snack" of a certain caloric value to the daily log without using your smartphone. Fitbit's device could benefit from a system like this for tracking food. It would be too cumbersome to track every food in every meal from a tiny wearable screen, but a list of your most-eaten foods easily accessible on your wrist would be convenient. Users could select a favorite food to add to the on-watch list from the mobile app, then choose that food on their device and adjust the amount consumed to instantly add it to their daily food log. Fitbit could partner with a third-party service for this, but since it has its own native food tracking system, I hope it would develop its own native feature.
    It won’t be easy, but it’s not impossible
    I have many hopes for Fitbit's forthcoming smartwatch, but so much uncertainty surrounds it that I'm not getting my hopes up too much. Fitbit has an uphill battle entering the smartwatch market because we still don't know exactly what smartwatches should do for consumers. Apple and Google are both trying to figure this out.
    But if Fitbit makes a device that has the sole purpose of taking on the Apple Watch—the current king of smartwatches—it will likely fail. If that's the case, it will be blatantly obvious that Fitbit went for the "attack Apple" approach rather than the "do something original" approach. The public still has a malleable opinion about smartwatches because their use hasn't been completely defined yet, so there's room for many types of smartwatches right now. Fitbit needs to stay true to its roots and make a smartwatch that's the best fitness device for the widest pool of people interested in exercise.
    And we can't forget one big thing Fitbit has going for it: Fitbit devices work on both iOS and Android, so this smartwatch will likely also be available for both platforms without sacrificing any functionality. Neither Apple Watches nor Android Wear devices can boast that. If Fitbit's new device has the right balance of killer fitness features (even more killer than those on the Apple Watch), clever app integrations, an inoffensive design, and an affordable price, it will be able to compete in the messy and uncertain smartwatch world.