December 17, 2017
Monday, June 2, 2014

A techie excuse for exercise?

By Pablo Toledo
For the Herald

New kiddie fitness band more toy than tech

Wearable technology is all the rage (1) these days for adults. Now, the concept is spreading to kids.

LeapFrog, the maker of kids’ tablets and other educational products, recently unveiled the LeapBand, a device worn around the wrist. It’s really more of a toy, designed for kids ages 4 to 7, rather than a true fitness tracker. Yet it does offer some of the same features (2) in a kid-friendly way.

And in light of concerns about kids getting too much screen time, some parents may see the new product as a way to satisfy technological cravings while keeping kids active.

The LeapBand doesn’t have a GPS receiver, a touch screen or any sensors to tell exactly how much your child is moving. But a little energy bar that encircles the band's small color screen does keep track of (3) how many activity challenges your child cues up.

In that mode, the band will ask your child to do tasks such as “leap (4) like a frog” or “swim like a fish with a wish.” For each challenge, the child earns points and the energy bar charting their progress extends a little bit more.

Once the devices launch, parents will be able to sync the bands with software on the company's website or a smartphone app and track their child’s activities.

Integrated into the device are a variety of virtual pets that your child can exercise along with, as well as feed and bathe. Remember those Tamagotchi toys from the 1990s? It’s the same idea.

Like many LeapFrog products, the LeapBand is designed to withstand (5) the everyday tortures inflicted by small children. While (*) a bit bulky (6), its hard, plastic shell is durable and water-resistant.

The reality is, most small children aren’t going to wear or use this kind of device on a regular basis the way an adult would with a traditional fitness tracker. And unlike adults who buy fitness trackers, most kids aren't focused on losing weight or staying active.

In addition, the LeapBand’s games and activity challenges just aren’t engaging enough to monopolize a small child’s limited attention span for very long.

Yet if a product like this gets some kids that normally would curl up (7) on the couch with a tablet to instead get on their feet and bounce around, then maybe it’s not a bad thing after all.

Adapted from a story by Bree Fowler, AP Technology Writer.


The word “while” has one global meaning and several different uses in English, and in this article we have examples of two of them. The general meaning is “things being/happening together”, and it extends into different areas.

In the phrase “satisfy technological cravings while keeping kids active,” it is used in the classic temporal meaning – two things happening at the same time, as in “I did the dishes while my wife cleared up the table” or “.

In the phrase “While a bit bulky, its hard, plastic shell is durable” we find a second meaning: at the beginning of a sentence it can replace words like “although” or “despite the fact that.” But how do we go from “at the same time” to “contrast”? Elementary, my dear Watson! The idea is that “different as these two facts look, they both happen at the same time / in the same reality and are simultaneously true”. While it looks tricky, it is an elegant and useful relationship once you've wrapped your head around it!

All the rage (1)

Rage is a feeling of intense anger that is very difficult to control. When something is all the rage, however, that is greatnews, because it means that it is very popular and fashionable.

Feature (2)

The word “feature” has many meanings. One of the most popular ones nowadays is this one, which describes the distinctive characteristics or attributes of a thing and is used to talk about the different things a gadget can do.

To track (3)

To track something means to follow or find it (especially following the traces or marks it leaves behind). A tracker is a device that keeps track of (records and monitors the progress or movements of) something, in this case physical activity.

To leap (4)

To leap means to jump a long distance (can be up and down or horizontally, but it has to be a long jump). A famous use of the verb is in Neil Armstrong's phrase as he stepped on the moon, “that's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

To withstand (5)

To withstand means to be strong or resistant enough to “survive” difficult conditions without harm.

Bulky (6)

Something bulky is big in an uncomfortable way – difficult to carry or move around, taking up too much space, etc.

To curl up (7)

You probably know about curly hair, and probably deducted that a curl is that kind of small, circular shape. To curl obviously means to make something into that shape – therefore, when a person curls up they lie down with their knees up, forming a sort of curl with their bodies.

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