Fitbit, now a Google brand, is reportedly working on a wearable device for tweens. Business Intern reports that it goes by the internal code name Project Eleven. The team behind the gadget aims to “help older kids build healthy relationships with their phones and social media.”
Google’s Australian Fitbit team is leading the project. The device will have GPS and cellular connectivity – a step ahead of current kid-centric Fitbit devices like the Ace 3, which only track activity. The wearable will also offer location tracking and the ability to call an adult at the push of a button. The device will not need a smartphone to operate on the go.
As with the rest of the Fitbit lineup, Project Eleven will “encourage physical activity” similar to the Ace 3, which currently features activity and buzz tracking every 50 minutes to remind kids to get up and move. The device will launch in 2024, although an employee mentioned in the report pointed out that there is still work to be done before the device can come to fruition.
Fitbit wants to court children to make them future customers. “They talk a lot about wanting to engage with the teen market,” one employee told Business Insider.
Google acquired Fitbit a year ago. It has long had its Wear OS platform for Android users wanting to strap on a smartwatch, but it lacked the fitness and activity tracking expertise that has helped other smartwatches succeed in the industry. . Last week, Fitbit announced in a blog post that it would keep its iconic moniker even as it develops new devices under Google.
At this point, I don’t particularly care about following a kid around town. I have writing before that, I can see the benefits with my child. The device I have equipped her with even allows me to remotely call for help to her location. Smartwatches like the Apple Watch are already helping track kids via GPS without tethering a smartphone, while carriers like Verizon are offering the Gizmo smartwatch to give kids a way to call home from their wrist.
However, I’m a little concerned about Fitbit’s fitness-centric branding as it relates to kids, especially tweens. Eating disorders are common in this age group, and a smartwatch or fitness tracker can be a big trigger for eating disorders. The Fitbit Ace 3 does not currently count calories for children. Let’s hope Fitbit keeps it that way, despite parents desperately asking for a calorie counter.