It’s almost Christmas and maybe your thinking about gifts. The best thing that’s going to be big this Christmas is a “fitness tracker”. More companies are making these devices this year. To name a few NIKE, TOMTOM, GARMIN and several companies I never heard of. I saw some for $59 that just track your heart-rate in real-time and are water-proof for swimmers to $229 for a do-everything model. I got the one that just does blood pressure for my neighbor.
Getting and staying in shape is never an easy task, and a number of companies are hoping that technology will be the solution to customers looking to increase their fitness. While the device can’t do your exercising for you, it can collect data on your activities which may just provide you with the motivation you need to do more. Most people fail at trying to lose weight because they give up. Most people just want to lose weight, they don’t want to do all the work it takes to keep the weight off. That’s where fitness trackers come in. Many of these devices fall into the category of the Quantified Self movement, an idea of self-improvement through tracking of personal metrics. In other words, a tracker will tell you what you are doing, and some tell you what you need to do. If you ate 2000 calories today but your activity only burned 1500, a tracker will tell you that and tomorrow you can adjust your diet and exercise or activity as to burn more than you eat. Take a look at these 5 wearable devices aimed at making you a fitter, happier, and more productive person.
Fitbit is one of the older names in the wearable device arena, and became a popular device among early adopters of the Quantified Self movement. The FitBit One device clips onto your clothing and provides activity tracking like a pedometer, measuring your distance travelled and calories burned. It also tracks your sleep, providing data on your sleep cycle, and a silent wake alarm. The device syncs wirelessly and uploads the data to the web, where it can be reviewed over a web app or mobile device. Fitbit’s latest offering is the Flex, which packages much of the same functionality as the Fitbit One, into a compact waterproof wristband.
The popular sporting goods giant Nike has made an aggressive push into fitness technology, and the Nike FuelBand is its most recent offering in wearable fitness tech. It offers similar functionality to the Fitbit One, using an accelerometer to monitor movement, but unlike Fitbit, it does not track sleep. The Nike FuelBand also syncs wirelessly, and includes an LED display, which can provide some basic information about your activity for the day. It also allows the wristband to double as a watch, which is a useful feature.
Jawbone is a company that rose to fame for creating attractive, well designed bluetooth headsets, but has most recently expanded into the fitness space with its UP device. Similar to many of the wearable devices here, its primary data collection instrument is an accelerometer for collecting data on movement and sleep patterns. Also like other devices, the UP can double as a silent sleep alarm, while tracking your sleep. The device has had a number of problems, with early adopters reporting defects related to the water resistance of the device, which has now been resolved. One remaining drawback, however, is that the UP does not sync wirelessly, rather with a headphone jack that must be plugged into a mobile device.
Withings is a French company that has focussed on wireless devices for monitoring health across a number of dimensions. Its first and best-known product is a body scale, a home scale that uses Wi-Fi to sync to your home computer and provide tracking of your weight over time. The included software will upload your data to a private part of the web, where your weight progress can be tracked on your computer or mobile device. Since the successful introduction of the scale, Withings has branched out into other similar products, including a blood pressure monitor that can sync to your mobile device, and a baby monitor that also will sync to your mobile and provide you with alerts.
BodyMedia provides a similar activity monitor to many of the offerings above, including an accelerometer to measure activity and sleep patterns. The BodyMedia is looking to differentiate itself as its devices actually sit on the surface of the skin using an armband, and have additional sensors to measure body temperature and galvanic skin response. While these may not be critical metrics of fitness goals, it may appeal to many quantified self proponents who may feel more data is better.
These are only a few of the dozens you can find at the mega stores that sell electronics or sporting goods. I was shopping last year and only found two and both of those did either too little or too much, but this year you shouldn’t have any problem.