Children get to join in with all the major technology trends nowadays. They can have their own smartphone, tablet computer, and now fitness tracker. The LeapBand from LeapFrog is a wearable activity tracker aimed at four- to seven-year-olds, which uses a virtual pet and the chance to unlock additional games and bonuses to encourage kids to keep active.
As you'd imagine from a product aimed at young children, the LeapBand looks somewhat different to other activity trackers on the market. The chunky, brightly-colored device features a 1.4-inch color screen along with hard-to-miss buttons and a speaker. It's never going to rival the Fitbit Force in the style-stakes, but the LeapBand has been designed to be sturdy enough to survive life on a child's wrist, and is water-resistant.
The LeapFrog LeapBand also differs from other fitness trackers in the way it encourages activity. Rather than nagging users to complete an activity target, the LeapBand experience is based around a Tamagotchi-style virtual pet and exercising to gain features. Eight pets from LeapFrog’s Pet Pals franchise can be selected – a cat, dog, dragon, monkey, panda, penguin, robot and unicorn – and customized by color and name.
Children can then look after their pet by bathing, feeding and grooming them, all the time earning points by being more active. Points are used to gain access to virtual toys for the pets, as well as unlocking additional games, challenges and levels of play. While feeding their pet healthy virtual snacks, LeapFrog says young users also learn about nutrition and health eating.
An activity button on the device can also be pressed to give the wearer an audio activity challenge to complete. These include things like being told to "Walk like a crab," "Spin like a helicopter" or "Pop like popcorn". A built-in accelerometer is used for monitoring activity, and an energy bar around the screen shows the user's progress. There are 10 preloaded active games and challenges, and an additional 40 free challenges are available through LeapFrog Connect for LeapBand, and can be installed via USB.
Parental controls also allow the syncing of activity data and setting of quiet times, such as at night or while at school, when the LeapBand cannot be played with. The LeapBand features a rechargeable battery which is said to last for days on a single charge, and the screen can be used to display either a digital or analogue watch.
A free companion Petathlon app for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets, and LeapFrog's own LeapPad Ultra kids tablet, is also being released. On this, kids will compete as their virtual pet in mini-games like archery, surfing and bobsledding to win medals and new tracksuits for their virtual pet.
The LeapFrog LeapBand will be available to put on the wrist of your little ones (assuming you can get them to stand still long enough) from August and will come in four colors: green, pink, blue or orange. It will cost around US$40.
Product page: LeapFrog LeapBand