I’ve been using activity trackers for a number of years. These have included Fitbit devices and lately devices made by iHealth. Generally a defining characteristic of these trackers is they are inexpensive and geeky. They look like technological toys rather than utilitarian tools.
The Activite by Withings is different. Firstly – Its expensive. $450 US dollars expensive. Secondly its primarily meant to be thought of as a watch. An analogue watch that also monitors your daily activity. In this it seems to succeed. The Verge review refers to the activite as being so understated that it often went unremarked when worn.
Cost aside, I find this type of device particularly appealing. I like technology to get out of my way, and just work. The Activite is intriguing as a smart device that acts dumb. All the intelligent sensors inside it are accessed solely through an iPhone app. The device itself is simply a time-piece located on the wrist. It looks relatively classy and will likely keep working for many years.
The Withings Activite isn’t in the same category as the upcoming Apple Watch. It’s designed as a Watch first and foremost that also tracks what you do through the day. It’s meant to live on your wrist and stay there, forgotten except for stolen glances throughout the day. I’m impressed, and by the time version 2 rolls around, I’ll likely be able to afford the price of such simplicity.