Lumoid will rent you five pieces of wearable tech for a week

Even if you do your research online, it can be hard to figure out which fitness tracker is right for your needs. Information like whether a Fitbit can track sleep is a Google search away, but knowing whether you like the way the band feels on your wrist is more subjective.

A new service from Lumoid called Wearables Box will let users get more hands-on time with fitness trackers in their own homes. Starting on Monday, Lumoid will rent you up to five new-in-box fitness trackers of your choice for a week, with a return label included. If you end up falling in love with one of them, you can keep it and pay Lumoid full retail price. If you don’t, the entire process will cost you $20.

Lumoid will help users decide which trackers they’d like to try by organizing the 25 available trackers by features such as sleep tracking and connectivity.

“I’m a runner, for example,” Lumoid founder Aarthi Ramamurthy said. “My use case is completely different from someone else who is trying to track sleep or someone who wants to count calories or lose weight.”

One issue is whether a given fitness tracker will work with your various phones, tablets and PCs. Although Lumoid isn’t renting Android Wear smartwatches at the moment, you can try out a Samsung Gear Fit, for instance, which only works with Samsung phones and tablets. Lumoid writes blurbs highlighting potential pitfalls using data garnered from user feedback, including information on device compatibility. A nifty side effect is that Lumoid gets a front row seat to collect data on which trackers are doing well and why.

wearables-lumoid-screenshot

“Users are saying ‘I can’t type with the Jawbone UP because it’s so bulky,'” Ramamurthy said. “So far, the it’s Fitbit Charge that has done really well for us in the beta.”

In many ways, Lumoid is simply selling fitness trackers online. That’s how the company plans to make money shipping wearable gadgets all over the country. Lumoid makes a similar margin to retailers like Best Buy and Amazon when a user decides to keep a device and pays for it.

The $20 rental charge is automatically deducted from your credit card when you ship your trackers back. If you try to keep all the trackers Lumoid shipped you, it can charge your card for the full retail value.

Lumoid, a San Francisco-based startup, first started renting gadgets  — specifically, cameras — in 2014. In November, the company launched Lumoid Locals in San Francisco, a marketplace that lets users rent camera equipment directly to other users.

Here’s the full list of fitness trackers Lumoid rents out:

  • JAWBONE UP24 Wristband
  • Withings Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor
  • Withings Pulse O2
  • Striiv Fusion Activity and Sleep Tracker
  • Garmin Vivosmart
  • Garmin Vivofit
  • Fitbit Flex
  • Fitbit Charge
  • Fitbit One
  • Nike+ Fuelband SE
  • Withings Pulse Wireless Activity Tracker
  • JAWBONE Up Move Activity Tracker
  • Misfit Shine
  • Fitbit Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale
  • Withings WS-50 Smart Body Analyzer
  • Pebble Smartwatch
  • Samsung Gear Fit
  • Nike+ Ipod Sensor
  • LifeTrak Move C300
  • Gymwatch Sensor
  • Basis Peak

 

Services with Airbnb pricing data grow as the king stays quiet

Successful new companies generate new business opportunities, as other companies emerge in their wake to support them and find their own profits, and Airbnb is no different. As more and more consumers are renting their properties on Airbnb — and some are doing so full-time as their own business — a spate of companies have formed to help Airbnb renters become mini real estate agents.

Airdna is one such offering. It combs Airbnb data to give people information on average Airbnb prices in their neighborhood, as well as analytics like most popular amenities offered in your area and the effects of using Airbnb’s Instant Book feature.

Based in Santa Monica, the product is built and marketed by a father-son team. Airdna started out as an e-book written by the son, Scott Shatford. It offered directions and advice to those looking to rent Airbnb apartments full-time. Shatford soon realized that Airbnb’s wealth of data, once organized, would be its own business opportunity. He calls it the “Wild, Wild West.”

“We’re making this leap of faith that people really want to get smart and data-driven about Airbnb,” Shatford told me.

Airdna is a freemium product, and you can access basic information — such as what can you expect to make in your city based on the size of your place — for free. The more detailed report of your area costs $30.

Airdna faces some stiff competition. A few other companies have cropped up with similar offerings. Beyond Pricing is one such product, and its slick beautiful design puts Airdna’s early 2000s look to shame. Airenvy is another competitor in the field, although it’s a little different. It manages your property for a fee, using a price fixing algorithm to determine the best price for the season, market availability, and area.

These are the kinds of companies that will help the nascent apartment sharing industry mature and reach a mainstream population. But their businesses are probably at the mercy of Airbnb’s whims; Airbnb offers a rudimentary room recommendation price already for its hosts (albeit not one sophisticated enough to consider seasonal or day-to-day demand changes).

If Airbnb wanted to kill these counterpart companies by producing its own data analytics, it could at any time. We’ve seen it happen before, whether it’s Twitter killing off Twitpic by introducing its own photo upload feature or Facebook rolling out a music player to compete with iLike.

App rentals could be on the way for iOS devices

Apple could prepping to unveil a new content delivery strategy for apps, according to some code uncovered in the latest iTunes beta. Specific references are made to app rentals in iTunes 10.5 beta 9, released on Friday, which could change the way we shop for apps.

NBC a Holdout for 99-Cent iTunes Rentals

So far, only ABC and Fox have signed on with Apple’s plan to rent individual TV show for 99 cents apiece. Other networks have yet to join in, and yesterday, NBC Universal Chief Executive Jeff Zucker made clear that his company probably won’t be anytime soon.

Is Renting TV Shows in 2010 Like Selling Bottled Water in 1970?

It wasn’t until the late 1970s that bottled water started catching on in the U.S. to become the market it is today, representing 28.9 percent of the U.S. beverage market. Is Apple’s scheme to rent TV shows online at $0.99 per episode a similar watershed moment?

Zipcar App Finally Hits the iPhone

zipcar_iconIt was one of the apps shown off at Apple’s (s aapl) WWDC Keynote speech talking about iPhone OS 3.0 back in June of this year, but Zipcar has taken its sweet time making an official appearance in the App Store. The application is finally here (iTunes link), so urbanites who’ve been waiting to make a trip to Costco to load up for the winter, you’re in luck.

For those who aren’t familiar with Zipcar, it’s a car-sharing service that allows members to rent a car during the day for running errands, etc. Cars can be picked up from convenient parking lots located throughout the urban areas served by Zipcar and dropped off again in another designated area. Zipcar members pay a monthly subscription fee and hourly and daily rates for use of the car. Read More about Zipcar App Finally Hits the iPhone

An Open Request to Apple: Rent Shows Through iTunes

iTunes

If you’re like me, you have one of many choices to view your television shows. TiVo, your own DVR, Netflix, Hulu, cable — whatever makes you happy. But for the last 6 months, I’ve been trying to budget both my time and money. In doing so, I’ve cut cable completely.

Between regular channels (with no DVR) and Hulu, I’ve been able to keep current with most of my favorite shows. However there is only so much I can keep up with on Hulu, and so much eye strain I can take from a 13-inch screen.

I propose, and with the community’s support, that rentals should be extended to television shows within iTunes. I’d love nothing more then the opportunity to rent a series, or subscribe to it for less than half the current price to own a TV series from the iTunes store. Read More about An Open Request to Apple: Rent Shows Through iTunes

Apple Updates iTunes to 8.1.1

software-update

Apple (s aapl) today released an update for iTunes, bringing the version number to 8.1.1.

The new version (currently available from Software Update) supposedly fixes syncing issues with the iPhone and iPod touch (which I’ve been lucky enough not to encounter) and with VoiceOver, the we-don’t-need-no-stinkin’-display substitute for the iPod Shuffle.
It’s also supposed to bring HD movie rental support to the media management software, though a cursory investigation by yours truly does not reveal any movies that are currently available for rent in said format, in either the Canadian or the U.S. iTunes stores. Maybe the standard $3.99 rental price now includes an HD resolution copy when available? I’m too scared to try it out, so let us know if you’re a braver soul than I.

New MacBook HDCP Impairing External Displays

In what seems like another addition to a long list of examples of how when you rent digital content, you’re actually renting it with a strict set of conditions, Apple owners are running into trouble with High Definition Content Protection (HDCP). The problem, affecting owners of the new aluminum MacBooks and MacBook Pro, occurs when you try to play some iTunes-rented movies on an external display attached to your notebook.

The HDCP causing the problem is intended to prevent copying high-def content across an HDMI connection. It’s also included in DisplayPort tech, which is the new standard for video output on current generation Mac portable computers. According to Ars Technica, the problem seems to affect movies protected by Apple’s FairPlay Version 3 DRM, although not all files which have Version 3 protection are affected. Whether or not the movie plays appears to be somewhat random, at least in Ars’ limited sample pool.
The person who pointed out the problem to Ars was just trying to play Hellboy 2 for a class of high school students using an external projector. Another case reported in an Apple support discussion thread occurred when a MacBook owner tried to playback content to his external 19-inch monitor. This report was quickly joined by many, many others. In all cases, playback works fine on the computer’s built-in display.
Read More about New MacBook HDCP Impairing External Displays