It’s widely accepted that our sedentary lifestyles are killing us, which has helped the explosion in activity tracking devices. It’s very easy to let a whole day go by doing very little. Lots of people are apparently caught in the trap of equating exercise solely with going to the gym, which they don’t have time for. This is turn makes it all too easy to just do nothing.
However, it’s easy to miss out on the many, many opportunities that could be beneficial to our wellness. Taking the stairs, travelling by bike, or taking short constitutionals are all beneficial for small, seemingly imperceptible health gains. This is the driving force behind the booming activity tracker market, where tiny devices clip to your body and log all your physical activity, helping you to see where you need to focus to achieve your health goals.
Fitbit are one of the leaders in this market and I spoke UK Country Manager Peter Groom about the Fitbit Flex, their entry into the wristband activity tracker market. You might know Fitbix from the Zip and One, tiny clip-on trackers that we made mention of almost 6 months ago. In the activity tracker world, Fitbit’s brand is associated with accuracy, something you lose in the transition to wristband devices. Other devices have populated the wristband space – notably Jawbone and the Nike Fuelband.
The Fitbit Flex crams most of the already impressive technical ability of the Fitbit One into a much smaller unit that can easily be wrapped around your wrist without noticing the weight or bulk. The Flex is designed to be worn all the time so this is really important in helping you forget about it and letting it do its job, whilst walking, working or even in the shower. There are obviously trade-offs with this form factor – the lack of altimeter being the most obvious, but the convenience gained is great.
The matte design of the wristband is understated and doesn’t draw undue attention. There’s a tiny display, comprising 5 LED lights that you tap twice to wake and get updated progress information. The number of LED lights illuminated will give you a quick idea of how close you are to your daily goal.
However a lot of clever work has gone into the Bluetooth 4.0 active syncing so if you pull up the accompanying app you can have a comprehensive look at what data it’s pulling up. Peter was keen to highlight the multi-platform approach Fitbit has taken so you use the app, website or PC sync.
Five taps of the LED display tells the device you’re heading off to bed and it will record you sleep quality – number of hours, number of times you wake and sleep efficiency index. Four taps will tell it you’ve woken up. You can also use the app to set an alarm causing the device to vibrate. It’s *very* weird having a buzzing on your arm as you nap but it’s also very effective. It’s also cool if you want to get up early without waking your partner.
Charging is done via USB (there’s a supplied cradle) and is recommended every 5-7 days. Your app will tell you when the battery level is low. There’s also an accessory pack that gives you Teal, Tangerine and Navy bands for £23, complementing the Black and Slate bands that come with the device.
The Fitbit Flex will be out in late Spring 2013 for £79.99