Wearables haven't even hit the mainstream yet and they're already marching solidly towards commodity status. Witness: The Movo Wave, a newly announced fitness tracker by New York start-up Movo.
The smartband, which just opened preorders, sticks to the fitness tracking basics: Step counts, distance traveled, and calories burned. You won't find fancy-schmancy features like heart rate monitoring or sleep tracking. Heck, the Movo Wave even appears to eschew a display, offloading feedback to a companion app for iOS and Android instead. But by offering so little, Movo is able to offer its fitness tracker for a similarly streamlined price: A mere $30.
At that price, fitness trackers fall squarely into the impulse buy category. A $30 smartband doesn't have to do much, or look as sleek as the Fitbit Force; the Movo Wave is basically saying "You may not like this, but hey, it's cheap, so why not try it out?"
Winners, losers, and the future of fitness tech
The race to the bottom was more sprint than marathon; between Movo Wave and the Mi Band that Xaomi is selling for just $13 in China, it's clear that activity trackers are already poised to join thumb drives, DVDs, and USB cables in the consumer tech bargain bin. Buy 'em cheap and toss 'em when you're done.
Granted, we haven't had any wrists-on time with the Movo Wave — in fact, in the rush to announce the smartband Movo only released rendered images and a video that doesn't actually show the Wave, rather than photographs of the actual product — but as wearable reporter Jon Phillips has said before, you have to wonder how polished and accurate these dirt-cheap fitness trackers will be, and how that might affect the future of activity trackers overall.
It's always great to bring gadgets to the masses, but fitness wearables have still yet to even catch a whiff of mass market acceptance; their audience is largely limited to gadget geeks and exercise enthusiasts. Accuracy is vital in a tool designed solely to track your health, and smartbands sit on a very visible part of your body, where aesthetics are a major concern. Sacrificing either in order to get cheap gadgets into Walmart or Costco or wherever could damage the public confidence in fitness trackers before the category even gets its legs.
Alternatively, if commodity smartbands do wind up being "good enough" to offer a compelling value proposition — one that appeals to mainstream users — it could quickly limit the market for pricier, more polished trackers like the Fitbit Force or Jawbone's UP24.
But either way, I'll probably pick up a Movo Wave when it becomes a real product this fall rather than today's mere rendered image. At $30, why not?
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.