iBitz Hands-On: Helps Kids Develop Healthy Habits and Keep Fit

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GeoPalz unveiled a new way to get the kids off the couch here at CES 2013. Enter iBitz, the pedometer for both kids and parents that does way more than count steps. It's an entire platform dedicated to building and rewarding healthy habits that lets parents see the exact activity level of their young ones. There is both a kids package and an adult package, each with a colorful pedometer and accompanying free mobile app.

The parent app is the main hub for monitoring the health of the family. Parents can keep track of their own steps as well as their child's activity. They can even set goals and view up-to-the-minute stats for everyone involved. Each pedometer syncs wirelessly over Bluetooth, so everyone's activity levels will be updated every time the kids get in range of a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone or near a home Bluetooth dongle.

The kid's app is a take on the classic virtual pet, giving kids a fun, animated friend who needs both food and play. Kids can learn that feeding their pets on a constant diet of soda or pizza will lead to lethargic results, and therefore pull the same conclusions for their own bodies. This virtual pet also communicates with the kids, letting them know if they've hit their daily activity goal and rewarding them with points that can unlock game time. Parents are also able to communicate with their kids through the virtual pet by pressing a button on their app, prompting the pet to encourage the child to get up and go play.

There's also a selection of games for kids that integrates with the iBitz platform. Kids can earn play time by walking more, trading in steps for minutes in their favorite games. GeoPalz says there should be around 150 games by the time the product launches in April. All of the games are free, albiet many are quite basic. We played "Dibbles," a 2D platform puzzler where the kid needs to guide characters from one end of the screen to another. There was also "Chute Academy," where we tapped characters after they jumped out of a plane in order to open their parachutes. If those games don't catch your kid's interest, there's also a way to put certain apps behind the activity paywall, making your kids walk in order to earn time on Facebook or other social platforms.

iBitz is currently raising funds on indiegogo, the crowd-funding platform, but will be releasing its product either way in April. The kid's unit will cost $35 and the parent's will cost $50. The kid's app, parent's app and all the games will be free.

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Dann Berg,
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