Monday, 26 August 2013

fitbit one experiment

Newcastle rain
I was in the Broad Chare in Newcastle a few weeks ago when we started talking about the gadget telemetry we can all use. I didn't start the conversation, although we did talk about the Garmin bike stuff that I use for heartrate, cadence, speed and similar.

We started by talking about those little pedometer systems (Ages ago I tried the Nike footpad thing, for example) and we got onto the newer ones like Fitbit.

They work on the pedometer principle, and use bluetooth to send information to the internet. I know people who use them and who target the 10,000 steps a day target.

Fast forward to the Apple store in Santa Barbara and I found myself buying one as an experiment.

10,000 steps in a day. Can't be that hard?

I tried it the next day. 2,500 steps. Hmm, maybe a rethink required. Admittedly it was holiday time so a bit lazy on beaches and around pools.

Next morning I'd decided to take an early stroll along the beach. Before 7:00 I'd clocked 2,800 steps. Not even had a cup of coffee. Surprisingly, I'd also walked a couple of miles, but it hardly felt like it. This was interesting.
Santa Barbara, Stearns Wharf, early morning
It's a pretty easy care kind of system. As long as the pen-cap sized device is somewhere on me, it seems to detect the steps and quietly resychronises without me even taking it from a pocket.
Fitbit One
It also checks for flights of stairs, which I thought was pretty clever - more exertion climbing than walking flat. It says it uses an altimeter and initially I didn't believe the description, because my mental picture of an altimeter involved big mechanical parts.
MEMS exampleOf course, nowadays with Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) both a three plane counter and an altimeter are readily available. Presumably they'll get put into phones along with the GPS and other direction finding gear.

So the little tracker unit is counting changes of altitude of 20cm or more accompanied by exertion. Every 3 metres upwards = 1 flight of stairs. It can tell the difference between me walking up stairs, using an escalator and being on a plane (which it ignores).

Altogether, pretty good.

It just sent me an email to say I'm 1,800 steps short of 10,000 today. I reckon I'll make it.


Nikki-ann said...

My parents have pedometres, but only cheap ones.

I quite like the idea of the fitbit, but sadly can't afford one.

rashbre said...

Nikki-ann They are also quite small. I already know of someone who lost theirs.