All posts in “fitbit”

The Skagen Falster is a high fashion Android wearable

Danish understatement meets Mountain View tech

Skagen is a well-know maker of thin and uniquely Danish watches. Founded in 1989, the company is now part of the Fossil group and, as such, has begin dabbling in both the analog with the Hagen and now Android Wear with the Falster. The Falster is unique in that it stuffs all of the power of a standard Android Wear device into a watch that mimics the chromed aesthetic of Skagen’s austere design while offering just enough features to make you a fashionable smartwatch wearer.

The Falster, which costs $275 and is available now, has a fully round digital OLED face which means you can read the time at all times. When the watch wakes up you can see an ultra bright white on black time-telling color scheme and then tap the crown to jump into the various features including Android Fit and the always clever Translate feature that lets you record a sentence and then show it the person in front of you.

You can buy it with a leather or metal band and the mesh steel model costs $20 extra.

Sadly, in order stuff the electronics into such a small case, Skagen did away with GPS, LTE connectivity, and even a heart-rate monitor. In other words if you were expecting a workout companion then the Falster isn’t the Android you’re looking for. However, if you’re looking for a bare-bones fashion smartwatch, Skagen ticks all the boxes.

What you get from the Flasterou do get, however, is a low-cost, high-style Android Wear watch with most of the trimmings. I’ve worn this watch off and on few a few weeks now and, although I do definitely miss the heart rate monitor for workouts, the fact that this thing looks and acts like a normal watch 99% of the time makes it quite interesting. If obvious brand recognition nee ostentation are your goal, the Apple Watch or any of the Samsung Gear line are more your style. This watch, made by a company famous for its Danish understatement, offers the opposite of that.

Skagen offers a few very basic watch faces with the Skagen branding at various points on the dial. I particularly like the list face which includes world time or temperature in various spots around the world, offering you an at-a-glance view of timezones. Like most Android Wear systems you can change the display by pressing and holding on the face.

It lasts about a day on one charge although busy days may run down the battery sooner as notifications flood the screen. The notification system – essentially a little icon that appears over the watch face – sometimes fails and instead shows a baffling grey square. This is the single annoyance I noticed, UI-wise, when it came to the Falster. It works with both Android smartphones and iOS.

What this watch boils down to is an improved fitness tracker and notification system. If you’re wearing, say, a Fitbit, something like the Skagen Falster offers a superior experience in a very chic package. Because the watch is fairly compact (at 42mm I won’t say it’s small but it would work on a thinner wrist) it takes away a lot of the bulk of other smartwatches and, more important, doesn’t look like a smartwatch. Those of use who don’t want to look like we’re wearing robotic egg sacs on our wrists will enjoy that aspect of Skagen’s effort, even without all the trimmings we expect from a modern smartwatch.

Skagen, like so many other watch manufacturers, decided if it couldn’t been the digital revolution it would join it. The result is the Falster and, to a lesser degree, their analog collections. Whether or not traditional watchmakers will survive the 21st century is still up in the air but, as evidenced by this handsome and well-made watch, they’re at least giving it the old Danish try.

Tech companies, stop marketing my period to me in millennial pink

My period is a dark, viscous, murderous red. Yet tech companies keep selling me products to control it, all cast in that mellow-cool shade of my generation: millennial pink.

I’m frequently served ads for period tracker apps and other forms of reproductive health monitoring and pregnancy management on social media. And I’ve noticed among the subtly cute icons, the minimalist san-serif fonts, and clean lines, a beige-pink palette that looks nothing like what comes out of me once a month.

Tech companies: Please stop marketing my vagina to me in a color that reeks of stale marketing meetings, approachability, and tranquility. I’m not afraid of my period, and your app can’t tame it.

I was reminded of this cliché color scheme with the release of Fitbit’s new smartwatch, the Versa. It will feature, for the first time, a menstrual-cycle tracker. 

Starting this spring, women can enable the feature during setup. Period days will show up in the Versa’s calendar tracker in a chic light pink. The blue days are fertile ovulation days. Baby blue.

Pink is for periods, blue is for baby-making.

Pink is for periods, blue is for baby-making.

Image: Fitbit

For what it’s worth, Fitbit also incorporates other shades of pink: a fat, hot pink droplet indicates days of heavy flow, a few hot pink circles mean spotting.

The functionality itself provides more than just a calendar. There are also options to track fluids, and other symptoms some women may get, like headaches and cramps. Plus, Versa users can access educational and editorial content about women’s health or join women’s health-oriented communities.  

Aside from whether or not you buy into any period app’s general value proposition — that “tracking” one’s period helps you have safer sex, pregnancy wise; or that mentally and physically preparing for your period by putting it in a calendar somehow makes your life better? — there’s something else, um, fishy, going on.

The gateway to all this reproductive knowledge is painted in millennial pink. 

Does this palette — Pantone’s 2016 color of the year — look familiar to a certain period vs. ovulation calendar?

Millennial pink, also called “Tumblr pink,” is the muted pink hue that’s dominated runways, interior design, home goods, and book and magazine covers galore. It’s not just one color of pink, it’s a spectrum of matte pinks and beiges that have a somewhat subdued vibe. The Cut aptly describes millennial pink as running the gamut “from salmon mousse to gravlax.” 

If you’ve seen it, you know it. And it often comes with a side of hot pink or orange-y red, or is complimented with a tranquil blue-gray or a vibrant green. Pantone’s Laurie Pressman, vice president of the Pantone Color Institute, says it has to have a tinge of orange to it, too.

Many publications have opined about the prevalence of this color and its supporting characters: what it means, why we like it, why it just won’t go away. In an exhaustive timeline of millennial pink from its origins to its hegemony, The Cut notes that what makes millennial pink so appealing is its nod to femininity, with a dose of ironic distance; or, as they call it, “ambivalent girliness.” 

“With Millennial Pink, gone is the girly-girl baggage; now it’s androgynous,” writes The Cut.

Pantone points to the sense of calm millennial pink conveys. It writes in its 2016 color of the year announcement: 

As consumers seek mindfulness and well-being as an antidote to modern day stresses, welcoming colors that psychologically fulfill our yearning for reassurance and security are becoming more prominent. Joined together, Rose Quartz and Serenity demonstrate an inherent balance between a warmer embracing rose tone and the cooler tranquil blue, reflecting connection and wellness as well as a soothing sense of order and peace.

Unsurprisingly, these sorts of pinks also connote youthfulness.

“The grouping of pinks that fall under the Millennial Pink umbrella are engaging,” Pressman told Mashable over email. “Playful and innocent, they carry with them a suggestion of a sweet taste or scent. They have a lightness, romantic sensibility and this attitude of carefree youthfulness.” 

This is the color — the de-feminized signifier of youthful nostalgia and order over chaos — that period trackers and women’s health apps choose for the design and marketing of their product. It represents more than just a use of a popular color; coded into these design choices is a sense of bridling.

And, it’s everywhere.

I first noticed the not-so-bright-pink in an advertisement to freeze my eggs. The multiple shades of pink weren’t the only thing I found problematic about the ad, but it was what got my attention.

I also noticed it in ads served to me for rhythm method period tracking and vaginal bacterial analysis.

But the period app is where 20-somethings’ favorite pinks really rules the day. The top three menstrual tracker apps in the Apple app store use it in their branding. There is even a tracker app called Pink Pad whose use of pink runs the salmon spectrum from mousse to smoked. In addition to the actual UI of Pink Pad, their social media branding features funny and inspirational quotes on a background of, you guessed it, light pink.

Image: pinkpad in the app store

Image: eve. in the app store

You know what’s missing from most of these ads? Red. Rusty or scarlet, nearly black or a waterier apple color, red is almost entirely absent from the UI and marketing materials of period tracking and women’s health apps and tech services. Maybe it’s too on the nose. Maybe it’s off-putting, sexy, powerful, or scary. In any case, the color of blood is not the color of period apps.

Red’s absence in place of the loaded millennial pink is disappointingly predictable. It doubles down on the association of periods with death, injury, and fear.

“The main reason designers and marketers of women’s health product would want to avoid the color red is because of its association with blood,” Pressman said. “Red can also signify danger, evil and anger, probably not the feelings one wants to engender when trying to promote health.”

But red’s exclusion in place of the much friendlier pink is a bit ironic, and more than a little problematic. 

If pink signifies restrained girliness and order, the prospect of a period tracker app, especially one branded in pink, belies a misunderstanding of periods. 

Now, I do not love my period. It is mostly just an inconvenient fact of life. But during my period, I’m nicer to myself, without feelings of guilt and debilitation. That’s because periods help women understand ourselves; they don’t work against us (although it may feel that way sometimes). So an app, colored to convey a sense of control, that purports to master one of the powerful biological markers of being a woman, misses the role that periods actually play in women’s lives.

Plus, using a color associated with “youthfulness” to market a product that monetizes the period — the traditional marker of the end of childhood and the beginning of sexual maturity — denies, shushes even, the full-fledged womanhood that a period represents.  

Both through apps and their marketing, the tech industry’s approach to women’s health is to turn an internal rhythm into a digital record, to transform a bright and messy reality into a clean and muted one. Millennial pink represents more than just an aesthetic choice: It’s prudish, and infantilizing.  

Period trackers may be helpful to some women. But to the companies making and marketing these apps, please, don’t elide this aspect of womanhood by painting it with a trendy, approachable color that turns femininity into ironic girlishness, a period of bodily and emotional rawness into tempered calm. You might be afraid of our periods. But we’re not. 

Let it flow.

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Fitbit posted a weaker-than-expected quarter and its shares are crashing


Fitbit, which has increasingly had to fend off competition from devices like the Apple Watch and is increasingly making moves in the healthcare space, still hasn’t seemed to nail things down quite yet as it posted weaker-than-expected financial results for its fourth quarter.

The quarter was more or less a complete whiff, falling short of Wall Street estimates for earnings, revenue generated, and also the company’s outlook for the first quarter next year. That may be just a factor of the difficulty wearable device companies face going forward, as even though they can come out with new products and find niches, it’s not clear if users are going to continue adopting them. That explains some of the moves from Fitbit to further get into health care, but it looks like there’s still some ways to go as investors recalibrate their expectations.

The stock price, as a result, is crashing this afternoon after the company posted its results. It’s down more than 10% following the report, sending its shares back below $5.

Here’s the final slash line:

  • Q4 Revenue: $570.8 million, versus analyst estimates of $588.9 million.
  • Q4 Earnings: Loss of two cents per share, compared to net flat estimates by Wall Street.
  • Q4 Device Sales: 5.4 million wearable devices
  • Q1 Revenue Guidance: $247.5 million (midpoint), compared to analyst estimates of $340.3 million.
  • 2017 Device Sales: 15.3 million wearable devices
  • Active Users (end 2017): 25.4 million
  • Q4 Average selling price: $102

Fitbit, for example, recently said it would acquire Twine Health, a cloud-based health management platform. As Apple looks to increasingly lock up the general consumer market — and also make its own moves into healthcare — Fitbit has had to try to make some aggressive moves in order to justify its existence in a wearable space that’s getting more and more crowded with Android devices and the Apple Watch. It can do that by finding more niches to exploit, though it still releases products like the Fitbit Ionic watch.

A report like this does have a lot of implications, and not just for Fitbit. We’ve increasingly seen that the wearable market is a tough one, with Fitbit eventually acquiring Pebble and soon planning to cut off support for the watch. Some startups are going after niches, like Proof, a wearable that will track your blood alcohol content. All these niches may make more and more sense in a more general device, but given the efforts from companies like Apple, it’s not clear if there’s room for a more general device to exist right now without a whole suite of health application.

Sweatcoin lets you earn crypto for working out


Want a way to workout and earn some coin? Sweatcoin has risen to the top of the App Store for helping folks get something more than just a glow for taking those daily steps.

The startup says it has accumulated more than five million users in the past year and increased revenue by 266 percent in the last quarter. There are more than two million weekly active users on the app — and growing, making it one of the fastest growing fitness apps in the App Store and second to the top in the free apps, next only to the Google Arts & Culture app that blew up over the weekend.

It works like this: users sign up and then hook up their smartphone’s health and fitness data and GPS location to the app. The app then tracks how many steps you take in a day and rewards you a monetary “sweat” value according to your movements. For every 1,000 steps recorded, the app will pay out .95 in “sweatcoins.” Users can later trade these coins in for fitness gear, workout classes, gift cards and a number of other offerings.

The app says you can only earn these coins by walking outside so it theoretically doesn’t count if you are walking on a treadmill at the gym, though the app on my phone seems to count steps inside my apartment as well. That’s at least something.

Note: I’m in my third trimester of pregnancy so I’m not exactly going the distance (just walking up the stairs feels like I’m trying to climb Mount Everest some days). That makes it a bit hard to earn my coins — I’ve only earned .33 in sweatcoins today, for instance, so don’t feel bad if you aren’t hitting that 10,000 step stride.

Another reason you may hit a wall of motivation in the app — the free version limits you in how many coins you can earn a day to just five. However, you can earn more if you are willing to fork over some of those sweatcoins per month to get you in the upper tiers and make some real sweaty moola towards that coveted Fitbit or whatever fitness gear you’ve got your eye on.

The startup has now raised it’s own coin to the tune of $5.7 million in seed from investors such as Goodwater Capital, which led the round. Greylock also participated through its Discovery Fund, as did Rubylight, Seedcamp, SmartHub and a number of angels including Justin Kan and Rain Lohmus.

Sweatcoin founders say they plan to use the funding to now push beyond the U.S. and U.K. markets to other English-speaking countries, then on to continental Europe and Asia next.

Co-founder Anton Derlyatka also told TechCrunch he’d like to “even include the ability to pay taxes with sweatcoin” in the future. Other co-founder Oleg Fomenko also mentioned plans to develop an “open-source blockchain DLT technology that will allow Sweatcoin to be traded like any other major crypto- or fiat currency.”

“We are out to fundamentally change the value ascribed to health and fitness and provide the motivation for people to lead better lives,” Fomenko said.

Those interested in checking out the app can download it on either iOS or on Google Play and start earning their sweat equity today.

Study: Seasons have little effect on dieting app reporting but the day of week does


If you’ve gotten three apps and a Fitbit so you can get skinnier this year, don’t worry so much about summer beach season or holiday weight gain. Instead, worry about Thursday.

Researchers at University of South Carolina found that self-reporting of food was integral to weight loss but that self-reporters often fell off, seemingly around the holidays. “A key question we wanted to answer is what impact the holiday season has on individuals’ efforts to monitor their calorie intake,” said lead author Christine A. Pellegrini, PhD.

They gave a dieting app to a group of 32 obese adults and asked them to self-report over various seasons. The app could tell when they reported intake, allowing the researchers to see when folks stopped reporting.

From the release:

After analysis of the data, a reduction in the number of foods reported by each person was seen with each successive day in the study. There was also a weekend effect such that participants reported significantly fewer foods between Thursday and Sunday relative to Monday. The study, however, determined that although more food was reported in January, an overall seasonality effect was not observed.

“Adults generally gain weight during the holidays and self-monitoring can help to manage weight during this period,” reported Pellegrini. “Weight loss is a common New Year’s resolution and may explain the increased number of foods reported in January; however, the typical pattern of self-monitoring during the holidays is not well established.”

The researchers saw food self-reporting fall off on a weekly basis between Thursday and Sunday which suggests that we are good at reporting what we eat at the beginning of the week but, as opportunities to cheat enter our weekend radar, we slow down considerably.

The bottom line? “Based on this study’s findings, providing these prompts on weekends may improve adherence to self-monitoring recommendations,” wrote the researchers. Basically someone has to remind us not to pig out on our days of rest.