Fitbug launches Orb, its long-awaited $50 tracker

By Jonah Comstock

image004After nearly a year of waiting, UK-based Fitbug, the self-styled economy option in the fitness tracker space, launched the $49.99 Fitbug Orb, which it originally announced at CES in January.

The orb's form factor resembles that of the Misfit Shine, a small sphere with an optional wristband, lanyard, or clip allowing it to be worn in a number of different ways. The device tracks steps, aerobic steps over time, distance, calories burned, speed and sleep. It uses Bluetooth Smart to sync the data to a free app on the user's phone or computer.

The company is also releasing an online digital coaching platform called KiK, included with the Orb, on which users can set weekly nutrition and activity targets. Using Fitbug data and algorithms, the platform recommends achievable targets then sends feedback, encouragement, and tips via a combination of emails and push notifications on the app. Fitbug's app also integrates with MyFitnessPal and Aetna's CarePass platform.

Rather than a rechargeable battery, the Orb runs on a replaceable battery that lasts six months, according to the company. It comes in black, white, and pink and is wirelessly compatible with iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPad 3, iPad 4, iPad mini, iPod touch 5, Samsung Galaxy S4, Samsung Galaxy S4 mini, Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0. It also includes a dongle option to connect to additional devices.

Fitbug has been a quiet contender in the activity tracker space since its founding in 2005, always leaning on its low price point as a major selling point. Most other trackers are priced around the $100 mark, with high-end options like the Basis Band capping the market at $200.

The company has several other products: the Fitbug WOW, a $79.99 connected weight scale, and two previous activity trackers, both priced at $49.99, the Fitbug Air and Fitbug Go. At one point, the company announced a blood pressure monitor called the Fitbug LUV, but it's not yet available for purchase.

Fitbug made news earlier this year when it sued competitor Fitbit, alleging that similarities in the companies' branding and advertising constituted trademark infringement and unfair business practices that harmed Fitbug financially. Fitbit announced its newest tracker, the Fitbit Force, just last week. The suit is still pending.

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