Fitbit is launching a fitness tracker for kids

The Ace was inevitable. Sure, Fitbit is leaning into smartwatches with today’s launch of the Versa, but the company’s current line of fitness trackers left a key demographic unserved. The new wearable, which is essential a scaled down version of the company’s entry level Alta tracker, is aimed squarely at kids aged eight to 13.

I won’t go into all of the stats around childhood obesity — they’re out there and easily Googleable. A number of companies, including Garmin, already offer up wearables aimed at motivating kids to get up and move, so it’s honestly a bit surprising that it took Fitbit this long to embrace the trend, especially given the fact that it really didn’t have to do much to tweak an existing product here.

Functionality is also pretty similar to the company’s existing trackers, offering step counting, sleep tracking and move reminders (which can be muted during the school day). The tracker is water resistant and gets around five days of battery life on a single charge. The bands are also swappable, so parents can pick up larger sizes as their wrists grow.

The biggest differentiators here are on the software side. Parents can add to the ace to a family account on their own mobile device to track their kids’ activity. The app will also let them vet the friends they add for competing fitness goals and limit the information kids see on their own app, if they device. If the kid has a phone, the Ace will also display call notifications.

Fitbit’s quick to note that the device is compliant with laws like the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), a concern that’s grown as places like Germany have banned kid’s wearables over privacy concerns.

It’s a bummer, of course, that we even need devices like this, but perhaps there’s hopefulness in the idea that technology can help ease some of the problems its contributed. Fitness gamification has always been a big part of fitness trackers’ appeal, and kids would probably appreciate that aspect, as well, encoring them to get up and moving, away from their screens for the recommended 60 minutes a day (not to mention the nine to 12 hours of recommended sleep a night).

Like the Versa, the Ace goes up for pre-order today. It will arrive at some unspecified point in Q2 of this year. At $99, it’s $20 pricer than the Vivofit Jr. — and unlike Garmin’s device, there’s no BB-8 version, sadly.