I bought a Fitbit Flex about a week ago.
In case you haven’t heard of it, Fitbit is one of these “wearable computing” companies. It’s a small little device that sits in a rubber wrist band which you wear all day and night.
There are other wearable computing devices for your wrist including the Jawbone Up, Nike FuelBand, and Basis Band. Lauren Goode has a great review of all these over at AllThingsD from last month.
I have only experience with the Fitbit Flex, so I’m going to just comment on that.
I love this device. It’s highly addictive.
It tracks my what I eat, drink, calories burned, steps taken, sleep, and weight.
Fitbit (which coincidentally announced this week they’d raised an additional $43 million in venture capital funding) has done an almost perfect job of creating a wearable device suited to today’s world.
It wirelessly syncs with the app on your mobile phone. No need to plug in your device.
It’s really hard to imagine plugging it in to check my daily progress on my app. It reminds me of when I was growing up as a kid and my Dad bought a satellite dish for our TV. He got a manual crank instead of an automatic motor to move it around to switch channels between the different satellites. “What’s the big deal to go outside and move it?” he asked. A lot, as it turned out.
I know the consensus view on the rumored Apple iWatch device that’s supposed to be coming out is that it’s going to be a small niche device which few will buy. I hadn’t really been expecting much from it either.
However, if it’s as good as the Fitbit — and knowing Apple, it will be better – everyone will want this thing.
We’ve always had the capability to go out and buy a pedometer and track our daily steps. We’ve been able to count our calories. We’ve known that we’re supposed to drink 4 glasses of water a day. But – let’s be honest – hardly anyone does it. It’s why there’s an obesity epidemic in America.
But the Fitbit makes tracking all this info so effortless. Sure you have to input what food you eat throughout the day, but once you start typing it in, the app brings up all the possible versions of that food (including from various restaurant chains) with corresponding calories.
After a few days, you become (or at least I did) addicted to seeing how you’re trending over time.
In my case, I started dropping weight almost immediately after starting to see my daily calories burned as well as what I was consuming. I started drinking more water and snacking less. Even on sedentary days, my activity level spiked up. I felt like a personal trainer on my wrist was always pushing me to make the right decisions throughout the day. It was gratifying to immediately see those changes recorded on the app and then tracked.
The Fitbit isn’t perfect. I would have liked to be able to see the time on my wristband. I also wish it could track my blood pressure through the day and be able to contact someone if I was having a stroke or heart attack. I’d gladly pay for that.
Son – interestingly – is so far ahead of the industry in tracking health measurements that, even though he’s selling the Fitbit Flex, he had to create his own proprietary software for it to track this additional health info.
Son even created something that lets you take a photo of yourself and then show you what you’ll look like in 20 years if you stay at your current activity level. Talk about motivating.
People around me noticed my Fitbit — and I kept bragging about it to people not interested in it — and almost everyone immediately wanted to get one.
Wearables are boring? I don’t think so. It reminds me of when the iPhone came out and some said nobody wanted to surf the web on their phones. Just wait.
While I commend the team at Fitbit for doing a great job, I have to say I constantly thought in my first few days how this device
reminded me of my old Flip video camera. Remember the Flip?
The first time I bought my Flip (in 2005 I think), I was the coolest kid on the block. People would stop me when I used it and ask me about it. The design and simplicity was so great. It had a little built-in USB port that I was proud to demo. YouTube had just launched and this was perfect for uploading videos.
And then, within a couple of years, Apple had totally buzz-sawed the Flip (sorry John Chambers) by integrating all of its capabilities into the iPhone. Why did you need a Flip?
I wonder if the same will happen here once the new iWatch comes out. How are these other wearable companies going to compete? Even Nike — where Tim Cook is on the board, by the way (which could make for some awkward moments in future Nike board meetings) — seems to be looking down the barrel of a big gun in Apple (and Samsung is planning its own device too as I understand).
Of course, I’m leaving out of the discussion here mention of Google‘s Glass which you’ll wear on your head. I haven’t used it, so can’t comment.
However, I do agree with a comment Tim Cook made at the recent AllThingsD conference in May: the wrist seems like a natural place for this technology to be.
Where will wearable technology be 3 years from now? That’s really exciting to think about.
I imagine my Morgan Freeman voice on my Siri by then will be telling me: “Are you really sure you want the piece of cake, Eric?”