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Fitbit launches Charge 3

Fitbit has announced the Charge 3, the latest in its Charge family of devices. Charge 3 features an elevated, premium swimproof design with a touchscreen display, 15+ goal-based exercise modes and essential smart features to stay connected.

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Fitbit’s Charge family of products is the most popular of Fitbit’s lineup, with 35 million devices sold to date. According to Fitbit research, of adult consumers who considered buying a wearable in the last year, 42% wanted a tracker versus 36% who wanted a smartwatch – due to the slimmer design, easy-to-use features, streamlined experience and price point. Further, IDC (International Data Corporation) estimates shipments of fitness trackers will continue to comprise a significant portion of the overall wearables category for the next several years. Trackers also make up the majority of wearable sales in major global markets like Australia, Great Britain, Japan, Singapore and Spain.  

“With Charge 3, we are building on the success of our best-selling Charge franchise and delivering our most innovative tracker, offering an extremely slim, comfortable and premium design, along with the advanced health and fitness features our users want. Charge 3 gives existing users a compelling reason to upgrade, while also allowing us to reach new users who want a sleeker, more affordable wearable in a tracker form factor,” said James Park, co-founder and CEO of Fitbit. “Our commitment to consumer choice and ability to meet the demand of millions of users by offering a range of products, from trackers to smartwatches, will enable us to expand our share of the overall wearables market.”

Premium design, intelligently crafted

Charge 3 is crafted from premium, lightweight materials, including an aerospace grade aluminum case and Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3 display for a slimmer, modern silhouette, increased durability and more comfortable fit for men and women. It features a crisp, touchscreen OLED display that is nearly 40 percent larger and brighter than its predecessor, offering a more intuitive experience with easy access to your most important information. 

Fitbit Charge 3 is the first wearable with an inductive button, which includes new patent-pending technology that provides a streamlined, swimproof design, increased space in the device to add more sensors plus a larger battery with up to 7 days of use, and more effortless interaction while maintaining the performance expected from our most advanced fitness tracker.

To complement the elevated hardware, the interactive software experience was redesigned to more deeply engage and motivate users to reach their goals each day. The high-resolution touchscreen display brilliantly showcases crisp, grayscale graphics with new playful animations and expressive graphics which surprise and delight, creating fun moments to help you celebrate milestones and stay focused on hitting your next goal. 

Superior health & fitness experience

Charge 3 also delivers the most advanced health and fitness features found on a Fitbit tracker to date. With more than nine trillion minutes of heart rate data tracked, Fitbit has enhanced its 24/7 PurePulse® heart rate technology for even greater accuracy during exercise compared to Charge 2, and provides a better measure of calorie burn and resting heart rate to optimise workouts and help uncover health trends. The addition of a relative SpO2 sensor – a first for a Fitbit tracker – allows for the potential to estimate changes in blood oxygen levels and help track new health indicators, like sleep apnea. 

Additional health and fitness features include: 

  • Goal-based exercise modes: Choose from 15+ exercise modes like bike, swim, run, weights and yoga; set a goal for calories burned, distance or duration, and see real-time stats, progress and celebrations on device when you reach your goal. 
  • Water resistant to 50M: Wear in the shower, rain, pool or ocean. See real-time duration on your wrist with Swim Mode, or use SmartTrack® automatic exercise recognition to see laps and pace in the Fitbit® app post-swim.
  • Go the distance: Stay motivated with Connected GPS from your phone for real-time pace and distance on device, plus Run Detect with auto pause and auto stop (coming soon).
  • Female health tracking: Gain a deeper understanding of your menstrual cycle by using the Fitbit app to log your period and ovulation (coming soon), record symptoms and compare cycle trends over time. With all your health and fitness stats in one place, you can better manage your health; easily see where you are in your cycle in the on-device dashboard.
  • Information at a glance: Easily navigate the new personalised, on-device dashboard to see daily activity stats and health metrics like female health tracking; hydration, sleep and weight (coming soon).
  • Personalised insights: Know yourself to improve your health with new dynamic insights about your activity, heart rate, nutrition and sleep to help you reach your goals with positive reinforcement and tips to course correct when needed (coming soon in the Fitbit app). 
  • Social motivation: Connect to one of the largest health and fitness social networks in the world, with more than 25 million active users for added motivation to reach your goals when you engage with friends, family and others through Feed, Groups and Challenges in the Fitbit app.
  • 24/7 guidance and motivation: Stay on top of all your daily activity and get a more complete picture of your overall health with features like automatic exercise recognition, Reminders to Move, Relax guided breathing, sleep tracking with Sleep Stages and Sleep Insights, and more.

Advancements in Sleep Tracking & Analysis

Fitbit helps millions of users better understand their sleep patterns and the lifestyle habits than can impact them. Fitbit started tracking sleep in 2009and has built one of the largest databases of sleep over the past nine years with more than 7.5 billion nights tracked. Fitbit also introduced Sleep Stages and Sleep Insights based on heart rate variability to give you an even more in-depth understanding of sleep quality.

“Fitbit continues to harness its data to give users actionable insights into their health and wellness. For example, we’ve found that 1 in 4 people get significantly more sleep on weekends than weekdays, which implies they are trying to make up for reduced sleep during the week. We can deliver insights to these users through the Fitbit app to make them aware of how this behavior affects their well-being and suggest how to set up a sleep schedule,” said Shelten Yuen, VP of Research at Fitbit. “In the future, we hope to provide more guidance to our users to reduce the risk of disease so they can become the healthiest versions of themselves.”

Fitbit continues to make advancements in sleep and is announcing a new Sleep Score beta from Fitbit Labs that will be available to Fitbit users later this year. Using key metrics tracked by any Fitbit device with advanced 24/7 PurePulse heart rate tracking, Sleep Score will provide a nightly score to help give you a more complete picture of your overall sleep quality and what factors affect it. 

In addition, for devices with a relative SpO2 sensor, including Charge 3, Fitbit Ionic™ and Fitbit Versa™, Fitbit will test the tracking of breathing disruptions, which can be indicators of health issues such as allergies, asthma or sleep apnea. 

“With the Fitbit Labs Sleep Score beta, we’re pioneering an intuitive way for people to understand their sleep. It’s an example of how we are continually evolving the health experience for our users,” Yuen added.  

Separately, Fitbit will continue to develop and clinically validate FDA ((U.S. Food & Drug Administration) regulated software as a medical device for various health conditions including sleep apnea and atrial fibrillation. Fitbit is one of nine companies in the FDA’s digital health software precertification pilot program, which is designed to streamline the approval process for software as a medical device.

Stay connected with the right mix of smart features

Along with its advanced health and fitness features, Charge 3 is Fitbit’s smartest tracker yet, offering the best smart features to stay connected to what matters most without overwhelming you with technology or distractions you don’t want or need. 

  • Expanded smart features: Easily customise and view call, calendar, text and smartphone app notifications (like Facebook and Uber), plus accept or reject calls and respond on the go with pre-populated or custom quick replies for Android users (coming soon).
  • Essential apps: Make the most of your day with top-requested convenient apps like Alarms, Timer and Weather; plus Calendar and Fitbit Leaderboard coming soon with future updates.
  • Popular brand apps: A select number of popular brand apps will be added on device in the future, similar to those offered on Ionic and Versa.
  • Easy and secure payments: Leave your wallet at home and use Charge 3 Special Edition devices to make easy and secure payments with Fitbit Pay™ contactless payments; supported by more than 100 financial institutions in 18 countries.  In South Africa, Fitbit Pay is available to all existing FNB/RMB Private Bank cardholders, who have a Fitbit Charge 3™ Special Edition, Fitbit Ionic™ and Fitbit Versa™ smartwatches, wherever contactless payments are accepted.
  • Broad compatibility: Compatible across most Android and iOS devices, with Windows coming soon, so you can choose the wearable you want, regardless of your phone.

Accessories, Pricing & Availability

Customise your Charge 3 day and night with a redesigned, easier-than-ever band attach and a range of accessory options. These feature premium materials like refined polygonal-textured and stain-resistant classic bands, breathable perforated silicone sports bands, fashionable woven bands and premium Horween hand-crafted leather bands. Charge 3 Special Edition with NFC features an exclusive, white silicone sports band with a graphite aluminum case or lavender woven band with a rose gold aluminium case, and offers two looks in one with the inclusion of an additional black classic accessory band in-box. 

Charge 3 will become available for R2,599 in black with a graphite aluminum case or blue gray with a rose gold aluminum case; accessories range from R349 – R549. Fitbit Charge 3 Special Edition with Fitbit Pay will be available at local retailers for R3,099. 

Charge 3 will be available in stores starting with October 2018. 

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Queues and cash-only frustrate SA’s commuters

A new study by Visa reveals the success factors for improving travel and creating smarter cities

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The use of cash-only payments was a frustration for 38% of Johannesburg commuters and 37% of Cape Town-based commuters, according to a new global study by Visa. Another commuter frustration when paying for public transport has been long queues – 67% of Johannesburg commuters and 64% of Cape Town commuters.

Visa, in collaboration with Stanford University, came up with these findings in one of the largest global studies examining the growing demand for public and private transportation, and the important role digital commerce plays in driving sustainable growth.

According to the UN[i], by 2050, 68 percent of the world’s population will live in urban centres – and the number of “megacities” with populations greater than 10 million people will rise from 43 today to 51 within that same period. South Africa is no different, with the majority of the country relying heavily on the public transport system. In fact, according to the General Household Survey (GHS) for 2018, a total of 54 209 000 minibus/taxi trips take place in South African per month. 

Building on Visa’s experience working with transit operators, automotive companies and technology start-ups, Visa commissioned a global study, “The Future of Transportation: Mobility in the Age of the Megacity” to better understand the challenges commuters face today and in the future. The key findings were combined with a view of existing and near horizon innovations provided by experts at Stanford University, to better understand the technology gaps in addressing their pain points.

The South African Perspective

Payments lie at the heart of every form of travel, and will continue to become more integral as more cities move to contactless public transportation, digital payments for parking and rental services such as bikes or scooters.  Malijeng Ngqaleni, Deputy Director-General of the South African Inter-governmental Relations, states that a high as 60% of South African households spend on average of 20% of their monthly income on transport, while in rural areas this number can be as high as 31%.

Aside from cash-only payments, another commuter frustration when paying for public transport has been long queues – 67% of Johannesburg commuters and 64% of Cape Town commuters. Over the last few years, a number of mobile-driven taxi-hailing apps have been launched in the South African market to counteract these concerns and commuters are open to the possibilities presented by mobile apps. The Visa study echoed this by showing that 77% of Johannesburg commuters and 76% of Cape Town commuters would be willing to try a consolidated app to make payments for public transport.

 Mike Lemberger, SVP, Product Solutions Europe, Visa says: “The future success of our cities is intertwined with – and reliant on – the future of transportation and mobility. Visa and our partners have an important role to play, both in streamlining the payment experience for millions of commuters around the globe, and supporting public transportation authorities in their quest to build sustainable and convenient transportation solutions that improve the lives of the people who use it.”

Herman Donner, PhD and Postdoctoral Researcher from Stanford University co-authored the report and summarised: “When looking across the technology landscape, there already exist many products that could easily address people’s daily frustrations with travel.  However, none of these solutions should be developed in isolation. A major challenge therefore lies in first identifying relevant technologies that provide suitable products for the market then managing implementation in conjunction with  a broad set of stakeholder including  mobility providers, technology companies, infrastructure owners and public transport agencies.  From our research, we think that many of these small, incremental changes have the potential to make a significant difference in people’s daily travel,  whether it’s to help find parking, get the best price to refuel their car or plan their journey on public transportation.”

Click here for the detailed global findings.

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Women take to tech, but more needed

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By HAIDI NOSSAIR, Marketing Director META, Dell Technologies

$12 trillion – that is the value in additional global GDP that remains locked behind the gender gap. This is according to the latest Women Matter report from McKinsey, which also reveals startling disparities in the workplace. Even though women make up more than half of the human population, only 37% contribute to GDP on average – and in some countries that proportion is significantly lower.

The reasons for this can be put in three areas. Fewer women – 650 million fewer than men – participate in the global labour force. Women are also more likely to be in part-time employment and thus work fewer hours. Finally, female employees are more common in lower-productivity sectors than in higher-productivity areas.  Are women not being offered the opportunity or are they holding themselves back?

Among STEM careers this ratio is particularly dismal: only 24% of engineering professionals are women, and as few as 19% of careers in ICT are filled by women.

What is the cause of this? Studies have found that women pursuing STEM careers are higher in countries with more oppressive policies towards women, because those careers hold the promise for financial freedom and more social autonomy. In contrast, countries with progressive attitudes towards women tend to produce fewer female STEM graduates. Then how can we encourage women from early ages to take the path of STEM education?  And how can organizations ensure women have equal opportunity at the hiring stages.

Certainly addressing gender inequality is crucial and must not stop.. Where women are increasingly more part of the workforce, there are often still barriers preventing them from assuming higher management roles. Female entrepreneurs often struggle more to gain investment capital. Corporate cultures are rarely aligned with the pressures of balancing work and family obligations. Decision makers may simply lack exposure to the potential of female candidates. Female pioneers have also argued that women are too risk-averse when compared to men. 

Whether these assertions are true is a matter for debate – and that’s exactly why every professional man and woman should be talking about them and identify action to change the status-quo. This is not just about female rights, but about social upliftment: companies with a mixture of male and female leaders perform better across the board and companies in the top-quartile for gender diversity are 21% more likely to outperform on profitability.

The digital economy we live in today represent a golden opportunity for increased women contribution to the workforce as technology breaks the boundaries of location and time for the workplace and where labor intensive jobs may today be performed by data scientists. 

For two days in March, top professionals will gather to talk and exchange ideas around creating more roles for women, larger appreciation for female professionals, as well as counter the attitudes among women holding them back from greater career success and autonomy.

If you want to be part of this conversation, join the Women in Tech Africa summit today at the Century City Conference Centre in Cape Town – learn more at https://www.women-in-tech-africa-summit.com/ and use the code DELL20 for a 20% discount.

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