When you think about it, it’s odd that wearable tech makers are so obsessed with wristbands. Most wearable tech products currently focus on fitness, and the most popular cardio exercises–biking, running, swimming–are powered by the lower body.
Husband-and-wife team Jimmy Leu and Beatrice Chu created Flyfit, a fitness monitor that is worn on the ankle, after Chu, an avid cyclist, got annoyed that other fitness trackers weren’t accurately recording her workouts. Several of the bestselling fitness trackers, including the Nike Fuelband, aren’t even recommended for cycling.
Flyfit just launched its Kickstarter page today and wants to raise $90,000 by March 25. The early bird package starts at $89 for the first 200 supporters and includes a tracker and two interchangeable ankle bands. Shipment of mass produced Flyfit bands are scheduled for August, while beta test versions will be sent out in May.
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Flyfit is one of the latest entrants to the wearable tech market, but its creators want to differentiate by focusing specifically on measuring different leg movements for cycling, swimming, running, or stair climbing. Plus, it will appeal to people who dislike wristbands, which are meant to be worn all day, but tend to get in the way while typing, irritate your skin, or snag on sleeves.
Chu says that she wanted to create an ankle monitor after realizing that her wristbands did not register movements accurately if she gripped her bike’s handlebars too tightly. For avid cyclists, the Flyfit is meant to be a portable alternative to cadence sensors that are installed on bicycle frames. Leu points out that this is especially handy if you use a bike lending service, like Citi Bike in New York City, or workout at the gym. Like a cadence sensor, the Flyfit lets you track distance, speed, and rotations per minute (RPM).
The app connects to an iOS app with Bluetooth 4.0/LE and lets you see your exercise data in real time, as long as you are willing to keep your eye on your smartphone while working out. Flyfit’s creators are working on an Android app and its development will be speeded up if the project reaches its $150,000 stretch goal. They also plan to open Flyfit’s API, add an online racing game so you can compete with your friends, and perhaps integrate it with other apps like Nike Run Keeper.
The tracker consists of a hardware module that is powered by a rechargeable Li-ion battery and interchangeable bands that are currently available in five colors. It has a simple LED panel that lets you check what activity you are tracking and battery life. The Flyfit claims to have an eight-hour battery life with real-time syncing and can run up to a week in off-sync mode.
The Flyfit may remind some people of the infamous ankle monitor worn by certain celebrities, like Lindsay Lohan, while under house arrest. The Flyfit is small and easy to hide, however, and can be worn over or under socks, so I can definitely see it appealing to people who are intrigued by wearable tech but sick of the ubiquitous wristband.