Google is making a wearable for preteens through ‘Project XI’

Google is making a wearable for preteens through ‘Project XI’

  • Google is working on a wearable for preteens in an effort called “Project XI.”
  • One employee said the project has a long way to go, with a launch set for sometime in 2024.
  • One goal of the device is to help older kids develop a healthy relationship with their phones.

Google is developing a wearable device for preteens under its Fitbit group as it attempts to capture a growing demographic of younger users who own wearable technology, three employees familiar with the project told Insider.

Code-named “Project Eleven” internally, the wearable is designed to help older kids build healthier relationships with their phones and social media, two employees said. One of them said that the device may include security features that will let parents contact their children and know their whereabouts.

Google’s Australia Fitbit team, headed by Anil Sabharwal, Vice President of Special Projects, is working on Project XI, according to internal data seen by Insider. An employee said the device was scheduled for launch in 2024, but employees stressed that the project has a long way to go and plans could change.

The employees spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal because they were not allowed to speak to the press.

Google is far behind in the wearables game. Insider told In October the company recently shifted resources and teams to focus on the second generation of its Pixel Watch in the race to catch up with Apple. Apple in 2021 According to the IDC Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker, wearables account for about 30% of global wearable shipments.

Apple’s advantage starts early. in September, The New York Times reported That a growing number of parents across the US were buying Apple Watches for their children under the age of 5 could act as a stepping stone to cell phones. In a survey of teens by Bank Piper Sandler earlier this year87% of respondents said they have an iPhone, and 31% said they have an Apple Watch.

Project XI could be an opportunity to capture a growing market of younger users who would otherwise grow up to be Apple loyalists.

“They talk a lot about wanting to get into the teen market,” said a Fitbit Group employee.

A Google spokesperson declined to comment for this story.

Fitbit’s teen wearable could help capture a key demographic

Employees familiar with Project XI said the team had experimented with versions of the device with and without a screen, as well as the idea of ​​sending new bands to users on a monthly basis as part of a subscription service.

It’s likely the wearable will have GPS and cellular connectivity, meaning users can be contacted and located without the need for a cellphone, one of the employees said.

This will happen an improvement From Fitbit’s Ace 3, a smartwatch for kids ages 6 to 12. From a parent’s perspective via an app that connects to the device, parents can see kids’ basic sleep patterns and activity, but not where they are physically.

An employee said the Project XI device will encourage physical activity like the company’s other wearables. Ace is in 3 target The “active minute” prompts more children to move around if they have been sitting still for the past 50 minutes.

Fitbit had previously been working on a smartwatch directed at children and older adults, but killed the device after the company’s merger with Google, two employees familiar with the project said.

The device would have offered cellular connectivity and included a camera, but the project faced several technical challenges and logistical issues, two people said.

Are you a Google employee who has a tip? Contact Reporter Hugh Langley on Encrypted-Messaging App Signal +1 (628) 228-1836, Are you a Google employee who has any advice on health projects? Contact Blake Dodge Via Signal +1 (252) 241-3117, See Insider’s Source Guide For tips on how to share information securely.

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