April 6, 2016

Originally published by Gadgets and Wearables

By Ivan Jovin

Interactive Health Technologies (IHT) launched the Zone, a new durable fitness tracker that’s designed for children to use in physical education classes.

The Zone tracker is an activity tracker for the wrist that offers real-time feedback via a digital display. It tracks heart rate and nothing else, the idea being that the only thing that matters is that the child is moving. The band will show a child’s heart rate and a color will indicate the level of activity being registered (low, moderate or vigorous).

The tracker also sends the data to IHT’s system, called the IHT Spirit System. PE teachers can tap into this to view students’ activity and heart rates to figure out which children need extra attention to reach their target goals.

“In working with IHT, we found a partner that shared our vision of inspiring the next generation to lead healthy lives by making sport and fitness a life-long pursuit,” VP and General Manager of Digital Sports Stacey Burr said in a statement.

“We’re firm believers that healthy habits are easier to keep the earlier you start, so introducing tools and resources at the school-level offered the perfect place to lay such an important foundation.”

During the 2015 school year, according to IHT, 600,000 children were enrolled in the IHT Spirit System. The aim is to reach one million students nationwide by the end of this year.

“The IHT Zone makes it easy for teachers to track student performance, provide personalized learning opportunities, and measure the effectiveness of K-12 PE programs.” the IHT website explains.

“From managing an entire class to facilitating one-on-one conversations, the system empowers and connects teachers, students and parents to make better decisions and maximize results.”

Schools in the US are able to start preordering the device today, for delivery in the Autumn. There is no word on international availability.

Essential reading: The best fitness trackers for kids 

This is definitely a worthwile initiative. Child obesity is a growing problem, not just in the US but worldwide. Statistics show that obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the US who are obese increased from 7% in 1980 to around 20% today. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who are obese increased from 5% to more than 20% over the same period. Today, more than one third of children and adolescents are overweight or obese.