POMO Waffle: a smart watch for kids

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Meet POMO WAFFLE, a fun and fashionable smartwatch for kids that includes several useful safety features for parents. The POMO WAFFLE is easy setup, use, and maintain.

POMO WAFFLE is the first GPS smartwatch that helps kids understand responsibility, express creativity and develop a healthy independence.

POMO WAFFLE will become their little helper, always there to entertain, help grow, and keep the child safe. It helps the child read the time through pictures and icons that are easy to understand and encourage learning… More at kickstarter.

This actually looks quite useful for parents and fun for their children.

Smart watches in 2016

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With so much consolidation in the smartwatch space, the future of the category looks gloomy. Less competition can mean less innovation, which can result in products growing stale and eventually fading altogether. Still, there have been developments in 2016 that could give the industry a boost. Startup Matrix Industries came up with a way to use body heat to power a smartwatch, which could eliminate (or at least alleviate) the problem of inadequate battery life. Plus, with Android Wear 2.0 slated to arrive early next year, the next generation of smartwatches will likely become more functional, giving users more reason to wear them… More at engadget.

It could be said that smart watches are at the stage phones were when the Treo 650 and early Windows Mobile devices were the best available. It is possible (unlikely?) that they will eventually change our lives.

Smart Watches are worthless

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Back in April, I dropped $230 on a gadget that had me feeling that gadget love again. You’re familiar with the feeling too; the thrill you get walking into a Sharper Image store or thumbing through a Hammacher Schlemmer catalog. It’s that sense that you’re seeing a small glimpse of the future neatly packaged and commoditized for the present.

But as soon as my Apple Watch arrived in the mail, I almost immediately had a new name for it: My Great Regret. A big reason I’d purchased it was for the novel ability to turn my lights off and on with my watch, but in practice, the Phillips Hue light switch app was so slow it was easier to pull my phone out instead. But the worst part was that the watch just felt buggy. I never knew when texts and phone calls I’d get on my phone would actually push to my watch… More at Gizmodo.

I agree.

Jawbone still circling the drain?

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Head over to Jawbone Support’s Twitter feed and it’s pretty clear that it’s in trouble. Not only can you still not buy a Jawbone tracker from Jawbone itself but it seems it’s not able to support its existing customers either.

Since October, @JawboneSupport has been fending off “speculation” of its financial challenges, apologising for delays and telling customers that it has “no update at this time” with regards to individual enquiries. Sure, head to the replies on most customer care Twitter feeds and it won’t look pretty, but what’s remarkable is how long customers are waiting and how little Jawbone is doing… More at Wareable.

I really can’t see how Jawbone is going to get out of this. The support issue is one thing, but this is the more obvious indicator of big problems-

An industry insider, who wanted to remain anonymous, told us that “from what I was told, Jawbone had begun selling out all their stock to any bidders, not worrying about the consequences of MAP [minimum advertised] pricing.

“When a brand starts selling to whomever and begins to not care about MAP pricing, they have essentially given up,” our source continued. “Admitting that defeat is another thing entirely though, as that makes them liable for all the stock and returns that have been boughten by retailers, as the chances of these retailers selling stock of a company that has ‘gone under’ is slim. Lastly, losing the lawsuit to Fitbit surely didn’t help them.”

When my Jawbone UP2 recently broke I just bought another one for £30. On the same day I saw the Jawbone UP move being offered for £8 in a discount store. It does seem as though the products are being offered to retailers not normally associated with this industry and I worry that the ability to use the trackers will stop at some point. I worry because they are, ironically, by far the best I have used.

Is the wareable industry in trouble?

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It’s hard to tell if there are problems within the wareable industry because many people only class smart watches as falling in to that category.

Motorola no longer seems keen on the genre, but that may be related to Google’s tardiness in supplying software updates.

Pebble was just sold to FitBit for the equivalent of its debt, but that may be because Pebble watches are not very good, never have been.

Jawbone is supposedly in trouble which I don’t understand because the products are decent, but even FitBit has suffered from rumours concerning its finances.

And then there is Apple who refuses to say what the Apple Watch numbers actually are. They may be more transparent than others when it comes to numbers, but not so with the watch so far.

I don’t know if it is in trouble or not, but truth be told I am not seeing many more smart watches or fitness trackers on people’s wrists than I was 6 months or a year ago.

What do you think? Is this sector likely to grow and grow and perhaps this is a natural blip or does it have little long-term future?

Pebble says goodbye

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Active Pebble watches will work normally for now. Functionality or service quality may be reduced down the road. We don’t expect to release regular software updates or new Pebble features. Our new mission will focus on bringing Pebble’s unique wearables expertise to future Fitbit products. We’re also working to reduce Pebble’s reliance on cloud services, letting all Pebble models stay active long into the future.

One-to-one Pebble support is no longer available. Any Pebble currently out in the wild is no longer covered by or eligible for warranty exchange. Users looking to troubleshoot their Pebbles can still visit our Help Portal and community resources. More at kickstarter.

A real shame, especially for those who own Pebble products. The lack of a warranty is a loss when you consider that FitBit is buying some of the company. I like how you can buy ‘some’ and leave the original users behind. Actually, I don’t like it.

Pebble bounced

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The purchase price is less than $40 million, and Pebble’s debt and other obligations exceed that, two of the people said. Fitbit is not taking on the debt, one of the people said. The rest of Pebble’s assets, including product inventory and server equipment, will be sold off separately, some of the people said. An announcement is imminent, the people added. Fitbit declined to comment and Pebble Chief Executive Officer Eric Migicovsky didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The Pebble fire sale is the result of financial struggles in a smartwatch market that failed to grow as quickly or as large as initially hoped and hyped. Industry shipments slumped 52 percent in the third quarter, according to research firm IDC, and Pebble cut a quarter of its staff earlier this year… More at Bloomberg.

It’s a shame to see Pebble disappear in this manner, but it’s been clear for some time that the company has been struggling. A wonderful start was not driven on by products that enhanced the platform.

PATCH: The Smart Strap For Your Analogue Watch

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Introducing Patch, a smart and stylish watch strap embedded with flexible electronics that turns your favourite timepiece into a smart wearable.

Patch is for anyone who treasures their traditional timepiece more than the huge variety of smartwatches out there, and yet do not want to be left behind when it comes to technological advancement… More at kickstarter.

I should like this, but I am far from convinced.

Are wearables a fad?

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Wearable fitness device maker Fitbit Inc’s (FIT.N) revenue forecast for the key-holiday shopping quarter fell well below of analysts’ estimates, hurt by soft demand and production issues related to its new Flex 2 wristband.

Shares of the company, which also reported lower-than-expected quarterly revenue, plummeted more than 30 percent in extended trading on Wednesday and were set to hit record-low levels on Thursday.

Fitbit forecast revenue of $725 million to $750 million for the October-December quarter. That was well below analysts’ average estimate of $985.1 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S… More at Reuters.

I’m starting to wonder if all wearables are going to go through a downturn. Smart watches are not doing well, but they seem to be causing a downturn in traditional watches. Fitbit devices, in my experience, are not good at all and the likes of Jawbone are suffering at the moment.

Is it possible that fitness trackers and smart watches are a much shorter-term fad than anyone expected?