HTC, Under Armour Join Wearable-Tech Battle With a New Smartwatch

Under Armour store
An Under Armour retail store.
Courtesy of brand.

Competition in wearable tech got a little more heated today as news surfaced that HTC Corp. will create its own smartwatch with partner Under Armour. Bloomberg News reported that the watch is set to debut in March, along with a new smartphone from Taiwanese company HTC.

The phone is expected to be an update of last year’s M8 device, featuring Qualcomm Inc.’s eight-core Snapdragon 810 processor, Dolby 5.1 audio technology and HTC’s latest Sense 7 user interface. It also will boast a 20-megapixel rear camera and an HTC UltraPixel front camera.

HTC’s watch will link with Under Armour’s UA Record health-and-fitness program, which the Baltimore-based athletic company launched at CES earlier this month. The app is designed to track fitness activity, connect the athlete with a larger community and help keep track of personal goals.

At the time of the program’s launch, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank said, “By syncing the thousands of fitness-tracking devices and apps onto its open platform and creating a visual dashboard of your data, UA Record is a simple and empowering tool designed to help people lead healthier and more active lives.”

Under Armour has been slowly building its expertise in the digital world since it acquired MapMyFitness in 2013. That suite of applications, which includes MapMyRun and MapMyRide, reaches an estimated 31 million users.

The athletic giant’s SVP of connected fitness, Robin Thurston, said in a statement that Under Armour opted to partner with HTC on the smartwatch and other future devices because of the tech company’s ” fearless commitment to innovation, coupled with an attention to detail and premium design.”

“Mobile innovation has completely changed people’s lives in recent years, making us more connected to our world than ever before,” said HTC CEO Peter Chou in a statement. “Now we want to help people be better connected with themselves, helping them to achieve their goals and gain deeper insight into their own lives to become the best they can be.”

A recent study by Iowa State University points to some flaws in current wearable technology, however. Researchers tested eight activity monitors for accuracy and found widely varied results. The best-performing device was BodyMedia FIT, with a 9.3 percent error rate. The worst performer was Basis Band, with a 23.5 percent error rate. Other devices tested included (in order of accuracy from best to worst) the Fitbit Zip, Fitbit One, Jawbone Up, Actigraph, Directlife and Nike Fuel Band.

Gregory Welk, a professor of kinesiology at Iowa State, commented, “People buy these activity monitors assuming they work, but some of them are not that accurate or have never been tested. These companies just produce a nice-looking device with a fancy display, and people buy it.”