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Sony's SmartBand fitness tracker will launch worldwide in March

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Sony SmartBand EMBARGO MWC 2014
Sony SmartBand EMBARGO MWC 2014

Sony's SmartBand, the first product powered by the company's new Core fitness tracker, will be released worldwide in March. We got our first look at the product back at CES in January, and Sony is showing it off yet again here at Mobile World Congress. The company believes the SmartBand and all devices that integrate Core will offer consumers more than a typical fitness tracker. That's largely because Sony isn't marketing this strictly as a fitness accessory.

With the help of an accompanying Lifelog app (also set for release in March), Sony's latest wearable will of course track your physical activity each day, but its capabilities extend much further than that. As the app's name implies, Lifelog aims to chronicle and preserve much of what goes on in your life. It will save the places you visit, songs you've recently listened to, games you've played, books you've read, and so on. It presents all of this and more (photos, fitness goals, etc.) in an arresting visual interface. Sony calls all of this the SmartWear Experience, and in many ways the SmartBand represents just the beginning of that initiative.

The SmartBand itself remains largely unchanged from what we saw at CES. It's essentially a wristband that houses Core — which itself is waterproof (despite an exposed USB port) and extremely light. And while it's doing plenty of unique things, Sony is also clearly taking cues from other fitness trackers on the market. SmartBand will measure your sleep cycle to wake you at the ideal time each morning, for example, and it will also notify you about incoming calls, texts, and Facebook and Twitter activity. But since there's no screen on the tiny Core, Sony does all of this with vibrations. You'll still have to pull out your phone to see what those notifications are actually for.

The SmartBand can be paired with Android smartphones via Bluetooth or NFC, and Sony is promising "open hardware" and an open software ecosystem to match. The company faces plenty of competition out of the gate, but we're excited to try out Sony's vision for what a fitness tracker should be. The SmartBand will be released in 60 countries in March. It will come in black to start, with more colors expected to follow soon after launch.