New Fitbit smartwatch pictures reveals heart rate shake-up

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Exclusive: New images show off watch from different angles

Fitbit has been openly talking about its smartwatch for several months, but it’s yet to reveal the product itself. Now, Wareable has obtained images of the finalized smartwatch, giving us a no-holds-barred look at Fitbit’s next big device.

Wareable understands from a source close to the inner workings of Fitbit that this we’re looking at the finalized version of the smartwatch-cum-fitness tracker, which is set to launch later this year.

New Fitbit smartwatch pics emerge

There are three base color variants of the watch: silver case with navy strap, rose gold case with blue strap, and a darker case with a black strap. The pictures reveal it will also have the same button configuration as the Fitbit Blaze – two on the right side, one on the left – and like the Blaze, the back of the watch protrudes to presumably get a better lock on that optical heart rate sensor.

Fitbit smartwatch

More interesting though is the sensor itself. Fitbit has, like many other wearable companies, traditionally used green optical sensors for tracking heart rate, but these new images reveal two red lights. If it’s also using infra-red, which that bottom blue optical could be, it suggests Fitbit’s smartwatch may have a pulse oximeter for measuring oxygen levels in the blood. It could also use red light technology to get a more accurate read on heart rate, heart rate variability, or other physiological parameters that green PPGs struggle with.

Expectations are that Fitbit will offer most, if not all of the fitness features from the Charge 2. How the smartwatch aspect works remains to be seen, but this is going directly up against the Apple Watch, so a lot is resting on Fitbit delivering on the apps – something it was rumored to be struggling with.

It will also face stiff competition from Garmin which, as we exclusively revealed this week, will soon launch the Vivoactive 3, a fitness smartwatch positioned similarly to Fitbit’s offering.

Fitbit smartwatch

In last week’s earnings call, CEO James Park assured investors that the ‘app gallery’ will launch on the smartwatch, with offerings from a few select partners. It will be making the SDK widely available after launch, so we can expect the number to grow.

The watch will also include GPS and will be waterproof to 50m. Fitbit can’t afford to hold back on the fitness aspect here if it wants to bring the heat to Apple and others. We just need a name – all we know is that it’s called Project Higgs internally.

Regarding this story, Fitbit told Wareable in a statement: “We know there is a lot of interest in our entry into the smartwatch category. We don’t have news to share at this time and do not comment on rumors or speculation. We can confirm that development of our smartwatch is on track and that it will be available for the holiday season.”

Fitbit has called 2017 its “transition year”, which we’ve analyzed a little more here. It’s betting big that its smartwatch will give the company the shot in the arm it needs, carrying it into a profitable 2018 when the Charge 3 and Blaze 2 are rumored to show up too.

Red light vs green light

Because blood is red, it absorbs green light and reflects red light, which is why most trackers use green-light PPG to measure heart rate. However, red light tech can penetrate deeper, opening up new biometrics and potentially getting a more accurate heart rate read – which is why hospitals use it. Upcoming wearable LVLis using red light as this allows it to detect hydration levels in the blood.

(wareable.com, https://goo.gl/XyXxou)

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