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Citizen's Smart Watch Will Test Your Alertness the Same Way NASA Tests Astronauts on the Space Station

The CZ Smart YouQ will figure out when your body needs a rest, even if that feels like 24/7 these days.

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Three versions of the casual model of the Citizen CZ Smart YouQ smartwatch against a gray gradient background.
Image: Citizen

Following in the footsteps of other traditional watchmakers, Citizen introduced its first smartwatch, the CZ Smart, a couple of years ago, but it was lacking any of the innovative features the company is often known for. Its follow-up, however, is leaning more into health metrics, helping users know when they’re tired and recommending ways to improve their alertness.

Smartwatches were originally positioned as wearable second screens for smartphones but eventually found success by expanding what made fitness trackers so popular. Instead of just counting steps and keeping tabs on a wearer’s workouts, smartwatches can now also keep an eye out for serious health concerns by tracking heart rate and electrocardiogram data, or by simply detecting serious falls or accidents.

As the smartwatch market gets more and more crowded, consumers seem to care less about a long-established brand name like Citizen, and more about how a wearable device could potentially save their lives. That’s why the Apple Watch can now connect to satellites and send out emergency SOS messages, and why Citizen has now teamed up with IBM and NASA for a new version of its smartwatch, the CZ Smart YouQ. The device now includes a custom app that provides users with insights about when they should be resting, or when might be an ideal time to hit the gym.

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After about a week or so on the wrist, the new CZ Smart YouQ uses all the data it’s collected about the wearer—information about their sleep schedule, patterns of movement and physical activity, and heart rate—to determine their chronotype; a sort of schedule of when someone is naturally inclined to sleep, and as a result of that timing, when they might be most alert during the day. For example, a night owl who goes to bed late and sleeps in will probably be most alert and energetic later in the day, rather than in the morning.

In addition to the data passively collected by the smartwatch’s sensors, the CZ Smart YouQ also provides users with daily alertness tests based on the Psychomotor Vigilance Task Test that NASA administers to astronauts on the space station. But since the watch is designed to be worn on Earth where the stakes aren’t quite as high, the alertness tests are more like simple games that help the Smart YouQ app better understand the wearer’s fatigue level at different times.

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Once the CZ Smart YouQ has determined the wearer’s chronotype (which is constantly being refined and improved as more data is collected over time) the smartwatch will recommend personalized “Power Fixes” which are “suggested actions and activities to help the wearer mitigate the effects of fatigue, improve alertness, and promote the building of better habits.” The watch will also take into account how effective those suggestions were at improving a wearer’s alertness, and suggest alternatives in the future if they weren’t.

Two casual models of the Citizen CZ Smart YouQ smartwatch next to two sport models, against a white background.
Image: Citizen
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The second generation of the Citizen CZ Smart will be available in the U.S. starting in March and will feature two distinct designs: a simpler 41-millimeter casual model that will range in price from $350 to $435 depending on the finish, color, and strap type chosen, as well as a larger 44-millimeter sport model with numbers on the bezel and price ranging from $375 to $435 depending on its finish and strap. All models of the new CZ Smart YouQ feature a 1.28-inch, 326 PPI AMOLED display, Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear4100+ processor, and will run Google’s Wear OS.