I’m thinking of ditching my Apple Watch for this solar and body heat-powered band

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In the seven years I’ve been wearing an Apple Watch I’ve rarely worn an analog watch, which is a shame, because I’m a watch collector and I have drawers full of classic timekeepers. I do miss them, and I also wonder if all the real-time information that Apple is constantly sharing with me is necessary. Maybe BHeart’s new smart band/bracelet is the answer.

BHeart unveiled its solar and human activity-powered BHeart smart band at CES 2023 in Las Vegas. It caught my eye because it attaches to virtually any classic watch using what’s known as ‘lugs’ – basically the pins that connect a typical watch band to the watch body. The band, which comes in silver and gold, is attractive enough, but it’s also packed with technology.

In addition to activity and health-tracking sensors on the inside of the band, including a Photoplethysmography (PPG) sensor for measuring heart rate, this may be the first fully self-powered smart watch band. On the outside of the band are five square solar panels, which work in tandem with a heat receptor to collect energy for the tiny 1mAh battery.

BHeart band

(Image credit: BHeart band)

That’s apparently all the energy the band needs to track the aforementioned heart rate, activity, steps, and sleep score.

Without a smartwatch screen, BHeart won’t be delivering notifications, texts, news, and emails, but that’s clearly not the intention. One of the things BHeart measures is your ‘outdoor time’ which, naturally, it gathers through the solar panel’s exposure to the sun.

At CES, executives quipped to me that you “recharge yourself while recharging it.”

There does seem to be a bit of a trend here at CES to leave screens behind, without losing the benefit of the information the technology behind them can collect and analyze. BHeart does have an app that would allow me to see all these health and activity points, and which suggests new habits to improve these scores. But without a screen, you’re not faced with these data points on a continuous basis.

BHeart band sensors

BHeart band sensors (Image credit: Future)

For me, the band could be an opportunity to reignite my love of the analog timepiece. I have so many beautiful watches gathering dust in drawers while I stare at my Apple Watch, reacting to every notification and news alert. I kind of miss my old life of showing off an oddball watch face like my Beethoven watch, on which his piano-playing hands are also the hour and minute hands, or my exquisite, ultra-thin 18k gold Longines watch.

I also like the idea of a watch that rewards me for my daily walks. Of course, my Apple Watch tracks and measures all my exercise and activity, but I need to tell it, or acknowledge on the screen that I am in fact doing a walking workout. BHeart’s more frictionless approach would constantly credit me for my fresh-air time with both energy for the tracker and that nifty outdoor score.

There are limits to this BHeart reverie, though. There’s no leather option, and the design is a bit workmanlike for some of my more elegant watches. It’s also not shipping yet. BHeart representatives told me they expect to ship in the US and Europe by the end of this year, with the band costing anywhere from $100 to $249.

That’s a lot to pay for a watch band, but not so much for a fitness and wellness tracker that can enhance and rejuvenate your favorite old-school watch – and maybe you, as well.

Check out all of TechRadar’s CES 2023 coverage. We’re bringing you all the breaking tech news and launches, everything from 8K TVs and foldable displays to new phones, laptops and smart home gadgets.

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