Fitbit’s primed to finally break out of the fitness tracking vertical with a smartwatch built for mass appeal — but the company’s apparently having a hard time even bringing a device to the starting line.
A Yahoo Finance report claims that Fitbit’s had so much difficulty developing the smartwatch that its launch was pushed from spring to later in the year, most likely the fall, according to “sources familiar with the matter.”
The report says the smartwatch will be made of aluminum with a built-in GPS chip, heart-rate monitoring, the capacity for touchless payments, Pandora music compatibility, and up to four days of battery life. The design is, according to one source, “definitely not sexy,” and takes its cues from the company’s attempt at a fitness smartwatch, the Blaze. Read more…
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Matternet has long used Switzerland as a testing ground for its delivery drone technology, and now it's ramping things up a notch. The company has revealed plans to launch the first permanent autonomous drone delivery network in Switzerland, where its flying robot couriers will shuttle blood and pathology samples between hospital facilities. The trick is the Matternet Station you see above: when a drone lands, the Station locks it into place and swaps out both the battery and the cargo (loaded into boxes by humans, who scan QR codes for access). Stations even have their own mechanisms to manage drone traffic if the skies are busy.
And the automation isn't just for the sake of cleverness -- it might be crucial to saving lives. Company chief Andreas Raptopoulos expects the drone network to transfer medical supplies within 30 minutes, and the reliability of a largely automated system means that hospitals don't have to worry about unpredictable delivery times (particularly on the ground).
Don't expect drones to blanket the skies. Matternet explains that there will only be one or two drones per network, and expansions to Germany and the UK will only happen once it's comfortable with Switzerland. The company got permission to fly over densely populated urban areas in March, if you want a sense of the time scales involved. Still, this is an honest-to-goodness example of a practical drone delivery network, and one performing crucial tasks at that -- this isn't just a nice-to-have luxury. If this network succeeds, it might persuade other countries to at least consider allowing drone networks..