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Bia sports watch made specifically for women adds à la carte GPS

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June 6, 2012

Bia comes in a variety of colors and band styles

Bia comes in a variety of colors and band styles

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GPS watches already come in all shapes and sizes (at least if you consider "heavy, square brick" and "massive discus" all shapes and sizes). Now they have a gender. The new Bia sports watch claims to be the first GPS sports watch designed for women, by women. In addition to bringing a little estrogen to a testosterone-dominated market, the watch adds a slim form factor, a separate GPS-GSM unit and a smart set of features.

The GPS fitness monitor market has really bulged over the past few years. It feels like every watch and fitness company now has its own GPS model, not to mention the host of smartphone apps out there. So we wondered what inspired the duo behind Bia to build a new one from scratch.

"It was a classic case of necessity is the mother of invention," CEO Cheryl Kellond told Gizmag. "I'm a triathlete and [Bia co-founder] Silvia is a long distance open-water swimmer - in addition to our day jobs as tech execs - and I couldn't find a watch that felt great on my wrist, that I felt was easy enough to use, and that really met my training needs. There was nothing out there that women really loved to wear; everything was too big and too bulky, too complex. We had women facing Ironman races and never taking the detailed data they needed off their training watches because it was too confusing to do."

So Kellond and Marino set out to push complicated interfaces and big, awkward packaging out of the way for a device with all the helpful training data and no barriers. On first glance, Bia doesn't really look to have the smaller form factor promised, but, though it's oblong, the watch is actually thin and lightweight compared to a lot of the other wrist-top cinder blocks on the market. Bia achieves the smaller form factor by decoupling the GPS unit from the watch. The GPS Go Stick is a separate unit that appears to our naked eyes not much larger than a pack of Wrigley's. It connects to the watch wirelessly via ANT +.

Users can purchase just the Bia sports watch, which delivers basic fitness monitoring like heart rate (with third-party strap), calories burned, intervals and stopwatch. The Go Stick adds distance, speed and pace tracking. You can start off with the basic watch and add the GPS Go Stick when you start craving more data, or just buy the full package to get it all at once.

Thanks to its innovative design, the Bia adds just 35 grams to your wrist, which its creators claim is about half the weight of the Garmin 310. A quick comparison shows it's less than half the weight of the Timex Ironman Global Trainer (84 g as listed by Sports Authority) and about the same as the MotoACTV. The GPS Go Stick adds another 50 grams, but it can be carried in a pocket or clipped to your shirt.

The GPS Go Stick connects wirelessly and adds more tracking functions

While its slim, light form factor creates some immediate appeal, Bia is quick to say that creating a women's watch isn't just about "shrinking it and pinking it." First and foremost, the aim is to provide a functional interface for fitness, exercise and training.

Bia's streamlined, one-button interface uses a combination of touchscreen and motion control. You push the button to start and stop workouts, navigate the touchscreen before and after workouts, and use motions for some specific functions (a shake of the watch activates the backlight, for instance). The quick-connect GPS communicates with both satellites and cell towers to pinpoint your location more quickly. The company claims that it'll have you ready to run instantly.

The inclusion of a cellular chip offers another advantage over existing watches, which is perhaps Bia's most innovative feature. With the push of a button, the watch forwards your coordinates and personal information to personal contacts and emergency responders. The feature provides a layer of security for women who may be running in the park alone without a cell phone. Owners can set up a profile on Bia's website and control what personal information is included in emergency alerts.

Instead of the typical watch band, Bia secures to your wrist by way of a removable Neoprene band that is washable (no more wrist reek) and more adjustable. Even the watch's angle is a thoughtfully engineered feature that designers claim lets all kinds of athletes quickly view the face without the "wrist twist."

When I first came across the Kickstarter listing for "The First GPS Sports Watch for Women...by Women," I expected to see exactly the "shrink it and pink it" strategy that Bia separates itself from. However, the watch combines a variety of thoughtful features that should appeal to any athlete. Despite the marketing, the watch is available for men too (though most guys will probably opt for something other than the pink butterfly band).

Kellond was careful to make clear that final pricing hasn't been set but gave us an estimate of US$299 for the Bia watch/GPS Go Stick package. The two pieces will also be sold separately.

Bia has a lofty goal of $400,000, so if you dig the concept, you may want to check it out.

The promo video below touches on a few additional details.

Source: Bia Sport

About the Author
C.C. Weiss Upon graduating college with a poli sci degree, Chris toiled in the political world for several years. Realizing he was better off making cynical comments from afar than actually getting involved in all that mess, he turned away from matters of government and news to cover the things that really matter: outdoor recreation, cool cars, technology, wild gadgets and all forms of other toys. He's happily following the wisdom of his father who told him that if you find something you love to do, it won't really be work.   All articles by C.C. Weiss
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