LeapFrog has entered the wearables market with a cross between a sports fitness band and a smartwatch that encourages kids to keep healthy by playing games.
The LeapBand activity tracker is a watch-like device that kids between four and seven can wear. It has a full colour screen with a chosen virtual pet that can then be fed, watered, bathed and generally looked after like a Tamagotchi. The difference in this instance though is that real world activities can also help.
Parents can set up to 50 activities that will prompt on screen actions for real life movements. For example, a kid can be asked to do star jumps in order to make their pet happy, that sort of thing.
There is also a bar running around the outer rim of the screen that fills as a child is more active, a bit like Nike Fuel points on the FuelBand, that encourages even more movement and general jumping about. And what child doesn't like playing/running around with a coat on his or her head?
Another aspect that will have kids wanting to score more points by looking after their pets or completing challenges is those achieved in the LeapBand will be usable on other LeapFrog devices and apps to unlock new content. The brand is soon to launch a couple of new tablets and a games console designed specifically for younger children and LeapBand points can be used to access new games on those devices. Then, the progress in those games can give rewards that sync back to the band.
This also applies to LeapFrog's apps for other devices, such as iPad, iPhone and Android. You don't necessarily have to buy into the entire LeapFrog ecosystem to get more from the LeapBand.
It will come in four different colours, blue, orange, the traditional LeapFrog green and pink, like the one we had a quick play with during Amazon's Christmas in July event in London. It's very light to hold, which is important as it will be on a child's wrist, yet the screen is of a high quality, certainly in colour saturation.
It's not touchscreen, instead being operated by large, easy to click buttons along the rear of the screen. And it is chunky and robust enough for you to feel safe that it can take some bashing.
There are different locations a child can put its pet into, including a dance floor that naturally encourages the kid to dance. And the whole thing is powered by a rechargeable battery, charged through a mini USB port.
Wearables is becoming a massive industry for the adult market and with the LeapBand (and V-Tech's Kiddizoom Smart Watch also due this year) the sprogs don't need to be left behind.