Digital Shroud
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Digital Shroud

Are Smartwatches A Smart Purchase For Your Kid? ⌚️

I will be performing a heuristic evaluation on the latest innovation in technology, the Fitbit Ace 3, a smartwatch designed for children ages 6 and up, and how this device should be the one piece of technology your child needs this summer.

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a person whose experienced first-hand technology grow at an exponential rate. We’ve watched chalkboards turn into smartboards, the hours spent with the Nintendo DS turn into hours spent playing iPad games and Scholastic library book fairs turn into flipping pages on the Kindle E-Reader. Smart technologies are all around us nowadays and are constantly being upgraded in ways we can’t even imagine, including the latest and most trending tech innovation, the smartwatch.

Toys (or Tech) “R” Us

Fitbit’s are among the most popular types of smartwatches designed to help focus users on their physical health, whether they’re trying to track their sleep schedule, steps taken or heart rate throughout the day, the device offers users a broad range of fitness information to be taken into account through multiple types of devices, as seen here. Observing children as young as 5 navigating their way around Apple devices and other technologies with ease is not a foreign concept, which is why I want to shine light on the Fitbit Ace 3, Fitbit’s line of kid-friendly smartwatches for children ages 6 and up, a device most families have not been introduced to.

…But Do My Kids Really Need More Technology?

As a previous day care worker for a few years, I’ve had the chance to see the world through a child’s perspective, by observing their verbal and physical actions and behaviors. The sight of my phone out or a TV set rolling into the room lit up their faces more than the sight of a Barbie Doll or multi-colored playdough. Through the lense of a child, technology has a “cool” factor to it and children desire to be a “grown-up” with their very own device. I believe Fitbit’s Ace 3 does an incredible job of combining technology, a factor children want, and the importance of fitness, a factor children need, and think the device deserves more promotion and fanfare among parents.

Kids today might tend to be more inactive due to the increase in the number of household technologies available, but the Ace 3 acts as an incentive to motivate children to be active so they can feel “grown-up”. Very active kids might also like this product because kids would like to see the big numbers they produce and parents that did not lead healthy lifestyles when they were young or parents currently struggling with their physical health would want to motivate their children in an engaging way using this product.

Product available in two colors

About The Fitbit Ace 3

The Ace 3 comes in two fun colors, the black band with red straps and the blue band with green straps. The touchscreen watch face is a narrow oval shape with two buttons on the side to activate some functions, by either pressing down once or holding both at the same time. The watch includes the wireless sync function to mobile devices for the app that displays both a parent and kid view, as well as has additional benefits of up to 8 days of battery life, waterproof functionality and the full list of all-day activity tracking information on their wrist. Features available within just the device include daily steps and active minutes tracking, sleep tracking, do not disturb, bedtime reminders, silent alarms, and reminders to move. The screen is black and just swiping in an upwards or downwards motion lets users see different screens with different screens showing the current time, timers, alarms, settings, number of steps taken and time active.

Speaking “Kid”

Developers and designers must adapt their mindset to that of the average child, someone who has very amateur-level thinking capabilities and a very basic vocabulary, but with that being said, they cannot necessarily compare their own childhood to kids today because of the tech-heavy lifestyles children are used to, where most kids find using technology easy.

The design is very consistent and includes the same font and colors throughout, as well as the heavy use of icons per screen to communicate information, which is very easy to understand for young children. The language and concepts familiar to children are projected in easy-to-read ways on the device. Recognition is a key concept in design, especially for children, who are still learning and observing the different types of ways language is communicated, whether it’s street signs or hand gestures. A lot of the same icons are used to communicate the same thing, such as a clock to communicate the meaning of time or the moon to communicate bedtime. Information is presented in a natural and logical order that makes sense to kids, as it goes from the main screen which shows the time, the child’s chosen character and steps walked, to the other screens that show a more in-depth outlook of information of their fitness lifestyle.

Gamifying Experiences

Gamification is an underrated, but very essential component of the user’s experience in which designers use a technique to insert gameplay elements in a product or service that is not necessarily designed to be a game. The act of gamifying a product is successful when the user’s actions are voluntary because they themselves want to involve themselves in the functions, users feel they are being heard and the product relates to their own desires plus users are comfortable and not overwhelmed by the entirety of the process.

The six components of gamification

Getting into the head of a six year old also means speaking to the child’s needs. Children love playing games as it keeps them engaged and distracted due to its enjoyable qualities. The FitBit Ace 3 gamifies the experience even more than the Fitbit designed for adults by including virtual badges when a goal is completed, as well as an animated clock face with a character of their choosing that gets bigger as the child is more active. The gamification aspect of the Ace 3 is great as it acts as an external motivator children get excited for. There is more gamification within the app but the watch itself can include more features to further prompt children to be active.

For example, when a child completes their goal, the outline of the watch face can light up in the child’s chosen color to stimulate visual satisfaction or perhaps the child’s chosen character can have a pre-recorded brief saying for the character to say for a more personalized, humorous experience. There are a multitude of ways to further incorporate rewards for children that can help them reach their fitness goals with ease and elation and using the unique child-like features, such as the characters, is a smart way to strengthen the user experience of the device.

Less Is More

Minimalism aims for simplicity and works to reduce unnecessary distracting design features to focus only on user needs through more whitespace and less color. Minimalist design, if done right, can offer better aesthetic, engagement and usability.

One research study even suggests visual complexity affects a user’s perception of the site within 50 milliseconds of exposure (Tuch).

Having a watch that fits the tiny size of the average child’s wrist means having less information than a usual technological device, which is a challenge to execute but more meaningful to the user.

The design of the Fitbit Ace 3 is very minimalist and does not contain any irrelevant message or subtext that is not needed in order to focus children on the main information. Each screen has a consistent design with the main components being the icon centered on the screen to communicate the screen’s purpose and in a small font underneath, the number or progress bar illustrating the purpose, such as the number of steps taken that day or number of hours slept. The screen is black throughout and icons and text are shown in white, however, the black screen very easily disguises itself into the dark colored bands and I would suggest a white screen option for light and dark mode viewings, as well as different colored fonts for different meanings, such as red colored numbers to indicate a number too low or too high pertaining to the child’s goals.

Error Prevention Tactics

Due to the small, narrow screen, there are no arrow buttons, pop ups and more when a mistake is made and a child may be confused if they are clicking on something that can’t be interacted with. I would suggest turning the screen red or having an icon of an exclamation point or cancellation sign pop up if a mistake is made.

User control is strong and it’s easy for a user to navigate back to the function or screen they were on but there are limited signifiers showing them they were in the wrong. This could go hand in hand with error prevention to improve that in order to show kids which buttons that can press by playing around with colors, typography, font sizes, outlines and more to communicate how users should interact with certain aspects.

Other suggestions for easy-to-understand signifiers include using colors with the screen by turning the whole screen red to signify a mistake or danger, having a vibration signal users can easily sense or showing pop up icons that help children easily identify errors, such as an exclamation point or cancellation sign.

A final chart summarizing the Fitbit Ace 3 usability metrics according to Nielsen’s 10 Usability Heuristics

Final Thoughts

Today’s generation of kids are growing up with a strong dependency on technology, but a lot of parents don’t like the idea of this because their childhood did not look like their children’s. However, the Fitbit Ace 3 encourages the idea of combining technology and fitness which makes the advantages of this device that much better. This product brings together families in an enjoyable, modernized fashion through the motivation it brings upon children and parents for leading a healthy lifestyle.

The kid-friendly experience is easy and simplistic while still offering the best fitness information and usability definitely ranks high for the Ace 3. Still, I would suggest a few more functions in regards to personalization and error prevention to heighten a child’s experience and comprehension with the product. Overall, however, the Fitbit Ace 3 smartwatch is definitely a smart purchase decision for your mini tech-enthusiast to own.

Buy your own Fitbit Ace 3 for $79.95 today

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Research and reflections on ubiquitous computing by students at Drexel University, covering all things smart, wearable and pervasive. Articles are by students in the class “Intro to Ubiquitous Computing” in the College of Computing & Informatics. http://cci.drexel.edu

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Mira Patel

Mira Patel

Aspiring Designer & Assiduous Student — living life by her very own blueprint https://mira-patel.com/

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