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Automatic exercise recognition comes to Fitbit

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Fitbit has introduced automatic exercise recognition and enhancements to heart rate tracking on the Fitbit Charge HR and Fitbit Surge.

“At Fitbit we’re always working on innovative features that are easy to use and make tracking health and fitness a fun, motivational experience,” said Tim Roberts, VP of Interactive at Fitbit. “Our users find exercise in all parts of their day, including activities like short walks with the dog or a bike commute to work. These new features allow them to focus on their exercise, giving them credit for their most active moments and letting the technology do the work to automatically track progress toward their fitness goals.”

Fitbit provided the following information:

Record Workouts Automatically with SmartTrack 

SmartTrack provides a smarter, easier way to track workouts and see how efforts accumulate to reaching fitness goals. SmartTrack automatically recognises select exercises and records them in the Fitbit app, giving users credit for their most active moments, so they are more informed to be able to reach their goals:

  • Automatic exercise recognition – SmartTrack automatically recognises continuous movement when wearing Fitbit Charge HR or Fitbit Surge. It identifies the type of activity and records it in the Fitbit app along with an exercise summary, including duration, calories burned and heart rate stats. SmartTrack is capable of identifying a wide variety of activities, including elliptical, outdoor biking, running, walking, and general categories of aerobic workouts (i.e., Zumba, cardio-kickboxing and other dance classes) and sports (i.e., tennis, basketball and soccer).
  • Personalised settings – Because everyone’s definition of exercise is different, users can select the types of activities they want recognised as exercise and adjust how long they must be moving before an activity is recorded in the Fitbit app. By default, activities are automatically recognised when users have been active for at least 15 minutes.

Enhanced Real-Time Heart Rate Tracking During Workouts 

Fitbit’s proprietary PurePulse heart rate technology has been updated to provide users with an even better heart rate tracking experience during and after high-intensity workouts like boot camp and Zumba. The update is activated when using Exercise Mode on Fitbit Charge HR and multi-sport modes on Fitbit Surge. PurePulse optical technology provides users with continuous, automatic wrist-based heart rate tracking including resting heart rate and heart rate trends over time – without the need for an uncomfortable chest strap.

Fitbit is dedicated to developing the most consistently accurate wrist-based activity trackers on the market. This software update improves upon an already positive heart rate tracking offering.

Stay Motivated with Weekly Exercise Goals

The American Heart Association and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend an average of 30 minutes of exercise each day, five days per week to improve health. While most people are aware of the benefits of being more active and exercising more, these activities can be time consuming and difficult to achieve.

Available for free to all Fitbit device and app users, exercise goals are tracked on a daily basis with a weekly goal set for the number of days they plan to exercise. Exercise goals encourage people to embrace a more consistent workout routine in order to achieve their fitness goals. Exercise Goals can be personalised by choosing the number of target exercise days per week and the types of activities that will count toward their goals. Progress toward goals is displayed within the Fitbit app.

To receive credit toward an exercise goal, Fitbit device users can:

  • Fitbit Charge HR and Fitbit Surge: Use SmartTrack or track an activity using Exercise Mode, multi-sport modes or MobileRun; or log an exercise in the Fitbit app.
  • Fitbit Charge: Track an activity using Exercise Mode, MobileRun, or log an exercise in the Fitbit app.
  • Fitbit Flex, Fitbit One, Fitbit Zip: Track an activity using MobileRun or log an exercise in the Fitbit app.

Availability 

The SmartTrack and PurePulse software updates are free and available globally to all Fitbit Charge HR and Fitbit Surge users today. Exercise Goals are also available globally to all users of the free Fitbit app for iOS and Windows, with Android coming soon. These innovative features will also be available on all new Fitbit Charge HR and Fitbit Surge trackers.

Also, just in time for the holidays, Fitbit Charge HR and Fitbit Surge are available in new blue and tangerine colours, with the Fitbit Charge HR also available in teal – arriving in South Africa soon.

For more information on Fitbit products and services, please visit www.fitbit.com.

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VoD cuts the cord in SA

Some 20% of South Africans who sign up for a subscription video on demand (SVOD) service such as Netflix or Showmax do so with the intention of cancelling their pay television subscription.

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That’s according to GfK’s international ViewScape survey*, which this year covers Africa (South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria) for the first time.

The study—which surveyed 1,250 people representative of urban South African adults with Internet access—shows that 90% of the country’s online adults today use at least one online video service and that just over half are paying to view digital online content. The average user spends around 7 hours and two minutes a day consuming video content, with broadcast television accounting for just 42% of the time South Africans spend in front of a screen.

Consumers in South Africa spend nearly as much of their daily viewing time – 39% of the total – watching free digital video sources such as YouTube and Facebook as they do on linear television. People aged 18 to 24 years spend more than eight hours a day watching video content as they tend to spend more time with free digital video than people above their age.

Says Benjamin Ballensiefen, managing director for Sub Sahara Africa at GfK: “The media industry is experiencing a revolution as digital platforms transform viewers’ video consumption behaviour. The GfK ViewScape study is one of the first to not only examine broadcast television consumption in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, but also to quantify how linear and online forms of content distribution fit together in the dynamic world of video consumption.”

The study finds that just over a third of South African adults are using streaming video on demand (SVOD) services, with only 16% of SVOD users subscribing to multiple services. Around 23% use per-pay-view platforms such as DSTV Box Office, while about 10% download pirated content from the Internet. Around 82% still sometimes watch content on disc-based media.

“Linear and non-linear television both play significant roles in South Africa’s video landscape, though disruption from digital players poses a growing threat to the incumbents,” says Molemo Moahloli, general manager for media research & regional business development at GfK Sub Sahara Africa. “Among most demographics, usage of paid online content is incremental to consumption of linear television, but there are signs that younger consumers are beginning to substitute SVOD for pay-television subscriptions.”

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New data rules raise business trust challenges

When the General Data Protection Regulation comes into effect on May 25th, financial services firms will face a new potential threat to their on-going challenges with building strong customer relationships, writes DARREL ORSMOND, Financial Services Industry Head at SAP Africa.

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The regulation – dubbed GDPR for short – is aimed at giving European citizens control back over their personal data. Any firm that creates, stores, manages or transfers personal information of an EU citizen can be held liable under the new regulation. Non-compliance is not an option: the fines are steep, with a maximum penalty of €20-million – or nearly R300-million – for transgressors.

GDPR marks a step toward improved individual rights over large corporates and states that prevents the latter from using and abusing personal information at their discretion. Considering the prevailing trust deficit – one global EY survey found that 60% of global consumers worry about hacking of bank accounts or bank cards, and 58% worry about the amount of personal and private data organisations have about them – the new regulation comes at an opportune time. But it is almost certain to cause disruption to normal business practices when implemented, and therein lies both a threat and an opportunity.

The fundamentals of trust

GDPR is set to tamper with two fundamental factors that can have a detrimental effect on the implicit trust between financial services providers and their customers: firstly, customers will suddenly be challenged to validate that what they thought companies were already doing – storing and managing their personal data in a manner that is respectful of their privacy – is actually happening. Secondly, the outbreak of stories relating to companies mistreating customer data or exposing customers due to security breaches will increase the chances that customers now seek tangible reassurance from their providers that their data is stored correctly.

The recent news of Facebook’s indiscriminate sharing of 50 million of its members’ personal data to an outside firm has not only led to public outcry but could cost the company $2-trillion in fines should the Federal Trade Commission choose to pursue the matter to its fullest extent. The matter of trust also extends beyond personal data: in EY’s 2016 Global Consumer Banking Survey, less than a third of respondents had complete trust that their banks were being transparent about fees and charges.

This is forcing companies to reconsider their role in building and maintaining trust with its customers. In any customer relationship, much is done based on implicit trust. A personal banking customer will enjoy a measure of familiarity that often provides them with some latitude – for example when applying for access to a new service or an overdraft facility – that can save them a lot of time and energy. Under GDPR and South Africa’s POPI act, this process is drastically complicated: banks may now be obliged to obtain permission to share customer data between different business units (for example because they are part of different legal entities and have not expressly received permission). A customer may now allow banks to use their personal data in risk scoring models, but prevent them from determining whether they qualify for private banking services.

What used to happen naturally within standard banking processes may be suddenly constrained by regulation, directly affecting the bank’s relationship with its customers, as well as its ability to upsell to existing customers.

The risk of compliance

Are we moving to an overly bureaucratic world where even the simplest action is subject to a string of onerous processes? Compliance officers are already embedded within every function in a typical financial services institution, as well as at management level. Often the reporting of risk processes sits outside formal line functions and end up going straight to the board. This can have a stifling effect on innovation, with potentially negative consequences for customer service.

A typical banking environment is already creaking under the weight of close to 100 acts, which makes it difficult to take the calculated risks needed to develop and launch innovative new banking products. Entire new industries could now emerge, focusing purely on the matter of compliance and associated litigation. GDPR already requires the services of Data Protection Officers, but the growing complexity of regulatory compliance could add a swathe of new job functions and disciplines. None of this points to the type of innovation that the modern titans of business are renowned for.

A three-step plan of action

So how must banks and other financial services firms respond? I would argue there are three main elements to successfully navigating the immediate impact of the new regulations:

Firstly, ensuring that the technologies you use to secure, manage and store personal data is sufficiently robust. Modern financial services providers have a wealth of customer data at their disposal, including unstructured data from non-traditional sources such as social media. The tools they use to process and safeguard this data needs to be able to withstand the threats posed by potential data breaches and malicious attacks.

Secondly, rethinking the core organisational processes governing their interactions with customers. This includes the internal measures for setting terms and conditions, how customers are informed of their intention to use their data, and how risk is assessed. A customer applying for medical insurance will disclose deeply personal information about themselves to the insurance provider: it is imperative the insurer provides reassurance that the customer’s data will be treated respectfully and with discretion and with their express permission.

Thirdly, financial services firms need to define a core set of principles for how they treat customers and what constitutes fair treatment. This should be an extension of a broader organisational focus on treating customers fairly, and can go some way to repairing the trust deficit between the financial services industry and the customers they serve.

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