McDonald's Is Putting Fitness Trackers in Happy Meals
Would you like an intro to the quantified self with that?
On a long enough timeline, every technology will be included with a Happy Meal. That was true for video games, virtual reality headsets, and now activity trackers, as the company starts handing out these new wrist-worn computers to children.
McDonald’s calls the basic device its “Step It! Activity Band.” It comes in two variations: One counts its wearer’s steps like a pedometer, and the other blinks at different speeds depending on how fast its wearer is moving. Both come free with a Happy Meal and were designed in-house.
The fast food joint has been tight-lipped about the debut of Step It. It doesn’t appear to have acknowledged the toy on social media, nor has it issued a press release on its corporate website. McDonald’s Canada has released some YouTube videos with the toy, though, offering us a glimpse at how it all works:
Let’s take a moment to examine that video. It’s clear that the activity trackers aren’t very accurate; a pedometer shouldn’t count flailing as steps. I have some other questions: How did the kids get the activity bands out of those closed Happy Meal boxes? And who buys food and then tells their kids to play outside?
Anyway. One of the McDonald’s Canada videos shows that kids can also — with parental supervision — download the McPlay app for Android and iOS to play video games with the activity trackers. One of those games seems to involve a Happy Meal box jumping up to grab apples, which seems incongruous at best:
Not that most people will be able to experience that game for themselves, as the McPlay app has tons of one-star reviews claiming that it doesn’t work. But that’s kind of beside the point. It doesn’t matter that the app doesn’t work or that the activity trackers are inaccurate. It matters that McDonald’s made all this stuff.
The company is working on all kinds of new tech, whether it’s replacing humans with robot workers or letting people order food by using their smartphones.
That’s all well and good. But with toys like Step It and the Happy Goggles virtual reality headset McDonald’s is highlighting the natural progression of all tech. First it’s new and expensive; then it becomes established and more affordable; then it’s given away in cardboard boxes that also include French fries.
Digital Trends reports that Step It activity trackers will roll out across the U.S. and Canada over the next month.