The idea of the fitness wearable isn’t something for everyone, with most of these designed for people taking an interest in their personal fitness. If you want to monitor your weight, how often you go walking, and what you’re doing in life, it’s pretty much for you, and these devices will track your progress online.
But what if you don’t want to be tracked, or what if the people wearing the devices shouldn’t be tracked by a digital system?
That inspired two Australian entrepreneurs to create a new breed of wearable designed for kids, and after seeing a rise in local childhood obesity and consulting with parents, the duo wanted to build something specifically made for children that not only would be good at getting them up and moving, but also could be “cyber-safe”.
A bit different from your usual wearable, the Elanation ETurbo wearable is being pitched as cyber-safe simply because of how it connects to the online world, with no GPS tracking or sharing of locations either incidentally or accidentally, meaning when worn, your child’s location won’t be found or hacked into by a third party.
According to Elanation, the idea of cyber-safe also comes from the style of chat that is associated with the digital experience it connects to — its online world that kids can use through the app — with only words and phrases programmed in by the adult that can be sent to friends, not responses typed in at the time.
“ETurbo was born from the need for children to have an age-appropriate and cyber-safe wearable,” Elanation founder, Katherine Pace, adding that “parents and children alike have been turning to adult fitness solutions which clearly state the terms of service is for 13 years and older simply because there hasn’t been any other options until now.”
Highlighting one of those terms and conditions we never read is crucial with this product, because when you’re over 13, at that point you’re closer to being able to make your own decisions since you’re in your teenage years. This essentially means the ability to send texts to friends, share images, and even tell the world where you are makes a lot more sense. Parents still have to be parents, sure, but there’s a lot more free will at the kids’ end.
But before a child hits teen or pre-teen status, some of these internet connected features are less critical, and according to Elanation’s founders, may not be what parents are after.
“As part of our product development we integrated input from Australian children and parents and understood they wanted their wearable to be so much more than a device that monitors their movements,” said Aimee Atkins, co-founder of Elanation, who adds that “they wanted to merge their two worlds, so we thought what better way to encourage kids to get active in the real world than to offer them rewards in their digital world.”
While it lacks geo-location technology, ETurbo does track footsteps and heart rate, monitoring only these and linking this information to an online world kids can play around with, and like gamficiation, ETurbo rewards children based on their activities.
For every 1000 steps taken in the real world, ETurbo allows kids entry into a digital community on the iPhone or iPad featuring video content, tips from sports stars, and more, all with the encouragement to get kids outdoors in the first place.
This digital community also features a game or two, and according to Elanation, the in-game character is directly impacted by real-world activity, too, meaning that the more your child walks and plays outside wearing the ETurbo bracelet, the more energy their on-screen character has to play with.
Meanwhile, those words that are pre-programmed by the parent into the wearable are meant more for the app, because kids can use these to talk to friends they meet inside the Elanation digital gaming space.
In a way, you can think of the ETurbo as a Fitbit and a video game system, because that’s kind of what Elanation is going for here, with a video game world that works from what the children do in the real world.
“We have made ETurbo a product that is so much more than a wearable,” said Atkins. “We have given children the passageway to their very own world that parents can trust is a safe and protected environment.”
While the idea of a safer kid-friendly wearable is an interesting one, we have to wonder whether perhaps Elanation should have made its wearable trackable by the parent, as while that would send a GPS location somewhere, would at least offer a little more security to the adult arming their children with something labeled as “cyber-safe”.
Granted, that would suck up a whole lot more battery life, so we can see another reason why Elanation said no, and given that the ETurbo is rated for up to 7 days worth of charge, you shouldn’t need to get this off your kids’ wrists until the weekend, and that’s only for a charge.
Built for kids aged five to twelve (5-12), the ETurbo is water-resistant at IPX7 and made for most of the outdoors, though Elanation advises not to take it in salt-water.
As for the requirement of the app, it’s one that will at this time only work on iOS, with Elanation suggesting that “many kids in Australia have ‘hand-me-down’ iPads” making iOS a fitting start for its system, though it will be rolling out to Android later on, too.
Pricing on the ETurbo chimes in at $129, with availability on this one from Elanation’s website. We’re checking to see if this one will land in retailers and will update this page accordingly when it does.