Can Fitbit track my activity?

The age old question for me is whether one device can do enough to track my activity in the way I want it to? I’ve seen plenty of devices, like the rest of us.

One of my favourites is fitbug. My wife had one for a few years and swore by it. It accurately tracked her steps, uploaded data to its website and did some analysis. It was really good but it was over £100 if I remember correctly and the website was a separate subscription. Free for the first x months but a constant charge thereafter. Not my style. Also, and most importantly, you didn’t own your own data. I couldn’t find a way to export the data I’d uploaded so I could take it elsewhere if I couldn’t keep up the subscription or simply wanted a change. I was locked in. I won’t stand for that.

My favourite device was the Sony gps enabler HGE-100. What a mouthful!. It just worked with my sony music phone as a handsfree and tracked my movement whenever gps was available. It impressed me mainly because it fit into my lifestyle. I didn’t have this extra bulky device to carry around. And, amazingly, it was sensitive enough to track my playing tennis. Something that I’ve found that tests these devices. The problem was that there was no web site to upload the data to and also that I couldnm’t get the data out either so I didn’t own the data. also it was gps only so didn’t work without a gps signal. I want to know about all activity such as inside buildings where gps doesn’t reach.

I’ve looked a little at using my G1 phone to bridge this gap since it’s an open platform that I can actually program for. I’ve tried a bunch of free apps but none did everything I want. Only one uses the onboard accelerometer to track movement without gps. The GPs on the phone is not very sensitive so it couldn’t track me playing tennis. I even made a start to an activity tracker project to address the lack of support for pedometer type devices. I’d like to see a reusable set of funcitons that can convert the movement data the phone generates into standard positional and activity information that any application could easily use regardless of whether you have a gps fix or not. Any way I’ll keep working on that but progress will be slow since work has to come first.

So there we are. I haven’t yet found a device I can use ubiquitously. Until now, I hope. I heard about a fascinating new product called fitbit yesterday.

It promises all I’ve been searching for. It’s sold in the US only at the mo at $99. So not too much. It’s tiny. Wireless and unobtrusive. You wear it all the time, even in your sleep if you want to and have a full analysis of your daily activity. I’ve found a review My week with the Fitbit wireless pedometer and read a little from the blog. Now it’s revived my interest in a separate gadget. 

I’m thinking of comparing the market. Seeing if it’s best of breed for my requirements. Thought I’d try their activity tracker website. I just signed up. entered my basic details and what I had for breakfast. It’s certainly the best I’ve used so far. Much easier to enter foods and weights cos it gives lots of intelligent suggestions. Not sure how to enter amounts for fluids though. I’ll figure it out. It was free though so I’m getting confident because I still get the impression the competition is based on subscriptions. 

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