New $13 Fitness Tracker Monitors Activity, Sleep, and Will Even Unlock Your Phone

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Xiaomi, a Hong Kong-based consumer electronics manufacturer, is going toe to toe with Google, Samsung, and Apple in the escalating arms race toward fitness trackers. During its annual product launch event last week, the company unveiled a new activity tracker, called the Mi Band, that may not have all the bells and whistles one might get with a Fitbit but with a retail price of $13, its hard not to give it serious consideration.

The product launch was short on details, and the company’s site has yet to provide specs for the new tracker, but early claims by the company say that it will track activity and sleep patterns, and wirelessly synch the data to a tethered smartphone. The tracker claims to do more than just track fitness metrics, it also provides a built in sleep cycle alarm clock that monitors a users circadian rhythm and wakes them at the ideal time, within a 30 minute window of when they set their alarm. Even more impressive is that the new units claim a 30-day battery life. Pushing its usefulness a bit further, it also provides users password-free way of unlocking a tethered smartphone. Collectively, the new tracker brings a lot of functionality to the table for its tiny $13 price tag.

Xiaomi is a fast growing consumer electronics company that makes Android smartphones, tablets, and smart TVs. The new tracker will likely only work with its Android smartphones, Xiaomi’s flagship product. The company started selling phones in 2011, and now reports that it has shipped 26 million smartphone units so far in 2014. Xiaomi has set a goal of selling 100 million devices in 2015 which, if successful, would make it a legitimate Samsung competitor. It also recently announced that by the end of the year it would be expanding its presence beyond China, Taiwan, and Singapore to include Brazil, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, the Philippines, Russia, Thailand, Turkey, and Vietnam. Hugo Barra, VP of International Business at Xiaomi was recruited to lead the company’s foray into international markets from Google, where he worked as the product spokesman for the Android platform. For now, Xiaomi appears content to compete in emerging markets, rather than taking the fight to the US and Europe, where Apple and Samsung have dominated consumer electronics sales for years.


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