South Korean technology company LG, which announced its Lifeband Touch fitness tracker and heart rate sensing earphones at CES this year, will launch those products next week, the company announced. The devices will be available exclusively from some Best Buy stores.
With the recent news of Nike FuelBand dramatically reducing the size of its hardware team and Fitbit still licking its wounds after recalling the Fitbit Force, the market for dedicated fitness trackers has started to look a little grim lately. But that could also give a large company like LG a good window of opportunity to break into the space.
LG's offering will bring a couple of interesting new things to the table. The Lifeband Touch interfaces with the user's phone to inform the user about incoming calls and text messages, and allows the user to control his or her music from the wearable as well. In that respect, it's more like a smartwatch-fitness tracker hybrid. Additionally, the earphones that come with the device have embedded sensors that track heart rate, a feature that few other fitness trackers offer. The feature might be appealing to serious runners, who could use the earphones in place of a chest strap heart rate monitor.
The device has an OLED touch screen the user can scroll through. In addition to the heart rate sensors in the earbuds, the wristworn device has a tri-axis accelerometer and an altimeter. It's compatible with both iOS and most Android devices. LG has launched its own free fitness app for use with the devices, but they will also connect to existing apps, including RunKeeper, MyFitnessPal, MapMyFitness, and SparkPeople. Additionally, LG's app is compatible with non-earbud heart rate monitors from Wahoo, Polar, and Zephyr.
The company wants its users to wear the earbuds and the wristworn device together, but either works on its own. Notably, the earbuds have their own accelerometer built in for users who buy them without the Lifeband Touch, and can also connect directly to the LG Fitness app. They also have a built-in microphone, enabling them to be used as a call headset. The earbuds use PerformTek sensor technology from Valencell.
After an initial exclusive Best Buy run, LG plans to make the products available at Fry's, HH Gregg, and Newegg. The Lifeband Touch will be priced comparably to other fitness tracking wearables, at $149.99. The earphones will run $179.99, which is steep not only for headphones, but also for chest strap heart monitors.