The best thing in two new consumer wearables Vodafone launched today is not mentioned by the firm itself: each does away with the need for a smartphone.
The two wearables – a band and a watch – extend Voda's range of consumer services, "enabling parents to stay in contact with their child when they start to give them more independence".
Both embed a V-Sim – a physical SIM card embedded in the V-SOS Band – which provides connectivity to the network and is preprogrammed by parents to include important contacts.
The "V-Kids Watch by Vodafone" has a 450mAh battery that provides three days' power, and messaging and games are included, as well as the more obvious SoS and location functions. The smaller band is where the IoT investment starts to pay off, providing a month of power and fall detection, and less fine-grained geolocation features.
The Watch provides the important functionality of an expensive smartphone that primary school age children demand, but it's less likely to be broken, or stolen by Nelson, the school bully.
Voda has already launched IoT devices for tracking pets (V-Pet), luggage (V-Bag – a rebranded Alcatel MOVETRACK) and your car. The latter claims to alert you when you've been in a serious collision, provided you're in network coverage, and alerts a Vodafone call centre. The portfolio reveals how hard it is to get things right – how many parts must be lined up.
While the Vodafone band and pet tracker offers parents and pet owners a real improvement over existing consumer offerings, the others have their own issues. For example, the backpack requires recharging every four days, while the auto box merely adds a modern safety feature to older cars.
All require a subscription for each gizmo. ®