My Fitbit Experiment: Week 2

I'm sitting here angrily munching on gingersnaps because the Fitbit dashboard makes me enter every single cookie separately. Or I could enter them by weight. How about I just round up to 10? Will that make you happy, Fitbit? Now I'm going to eat 10 gingersnap cookies to spite something. Probably myself. (See: My Fitbit Experiment, Day 1 and My Fitbit Experiment: Week 1 Summary.)

The other day I felt dejected. OK, I was only mildly dejected, but still, there was a small nagging voice in the back of my head saying, “You only climbed 47 floors yesterday. You missed your 50 goal by just three floors. I'm ashamed of your pitiful effort.”

To get revenge, I made myself jog up and down the stairs until my Fitbit flashed 50. Then, panting and sweaty, I walked over to my computer, opened Outlook, and refreshed until my 50 floor badge popped up.


Week 2 taught me that the Fitbit and I don't have a healthy relationship. Unhealthy relationships are what friends are for, so I befriended some people in my age group. Now, when I log in to the dashboard, I see our rankings on the side.

There is a whole community online where you can find people in your age group, or weight class, or geographic region, etc. Some groups are more active than others, and you can sign up to receive emails when someone posts.

I can't say I'm very impressed with the sleep tracker, though it's one of the more interesting aspects of the Fitbit. I tend to be one of those people who falls asleep in a normal position but wakes up with my legs up on the wall, my head dangling off the side, and the sheets all kicked off in random directions, so I was looking forward to seeing my nightly movements in graph form.

Above are three of my average nights, according to the dashboard. One of these nights I had insomnia and was up for at least four hours before falling asleep. Another night I was completely exhausted. And one night my neighbors were setting off fireworks and terrifying the dogs. Can you tell which is which? I can't.

On the profile settings page, you can change the sleep tracker from “normal” to “sensitive,” so I tried that:

Somehow I doubt these numbers. The only thing I've learned from this part of the Fitbit is that I tend to wake up every hour or so, but then, I knew that already.

Expect a lot of competition in this market over the next few years. Developers are still working on improving the sensor math and getting the small form factor down. The Fitbit is leading this market, but it hasn't done many upgrades to the Fitbit program itself, so next year it could be a whole new ball game.

So far, there are only two real forms: clip on, or wristband. The clip-ons may be attached to your clothes, keychain, or a cloth wristband. The two main competitors to the Fitbit are:

  1. Striiv: $99. Tracks steps, stairs climbed, distance, calories, time active. Social competition encouraged. Keychain design with touchscreen. Donates to charity based on how active you are.
  2. Nike Fuelband: $149. Tracks activity level by turning it into “NikeFuel.” Doubles as a watch, and syncs up with the iPhone/iPad wirelessly.

You may have also heard about the Jawbone UP — a faulty but popular wrist band. Jawbone has halted production, issued full refunds to anyone who asks, and seems to be testing for version 2.0. Considering it's more of an audio company, it could come back to this market with a very different spin from its competitors.

There are other competitors, but none with huge market share. This is a great place to see some more competition from manufacturers with a brand or an ecosystem behind them. iHealth, maybe?

10 comments on “My Fitbit Experiment: Week 2

  1. Cryptoman
    July 26, 2012

    While reading the analysis on sleep tracking, one thing I noticed was how dramatically the sleep efficiency falls when running in sensitive mode. Someone who really sleeps with 50% efficiency almost everyday must be ill. I think FitBit's interpretation of the word 'efficiency' and the computation algorithms used may be the problem here.

    The activity tracking during sleep feature of FitBit also does not make sense. I could not tell the difference between the three average nights in the post either.

    On a positive note, FitBit seems to encourage the user to be more active by making him/her feel guilty when daily targets are not met. This is like having a personal trainer who keeps on nagging you to push yourself physically.

    I also think connecting with other FitBit users is a good feature. This social aspect creates a synergy between all users who will encourage and motivate each other to reach and exceed targets.

    On a different note, I think sportsware companies are in a good position to heat up the competition in this area. If I were to buy a gadget such as FitBit, my preference would be to see what companies such as Nike, Adidas and Reebok have on offer. Although, I love my Jawbone Icon Bluetooth headset, Jawbone is the last place where I would buy something like FitBit.


  2. bolaji ojo
    July 26, 2012

    I'm not sure I have the energy to even use or monitor the Fitbit. I am no couch potato but just reading what Michell has to go through to get a worthy praise from the machine makes me feel giddy and light headed.

    Seriously, is the Fitbit going to catch on and become a mainstay product or will it fizzle out and end up in the buyers' attics?

  3. elctrnx_lyf
    July 26, 2012

    Definitely looks like an interesting application, some thing to track the number of steps is easy. But some thing that can track our sleep, oh definitely not that easy. But this will gain more traction and in the future there could be many more gizmos in this segment.

  4. syedzunair
    July 27, 2012

    Looks like an interesting application for people looking to get back into shape or keeping healthy. Though I have my concerns about the sleep pattern monitoring and I don't understand how the alogrithm works. 

    Overall the app looks good and will gain more popularity provided they can tweak the sleep algorithm a bit. 

  5. Taimoor Zubar
    July 27, 2012

    “Seriously, is the Fitbit going to catch on and become a mainstay product or will it fizzle out and end up in the buyers' attics?”

    @Bolaji: I agree. Fitbit seems like an innovative idea but it seems a bit of a hassle to do all that it asks for. I don't think a lot of people would be up for it.

  6. syedzunair
    July 28, 2012

    @TaimoorZ, I think even with the hassle people who have a goal say for example to loose weight etc might get hooked onto the app. However, broadly speaking I too find it a lot of a hassle to know how much I walked in day or the number of hours that I slept. 

  7. Taimoor Zubar
    July 28, 2012

    “However, broadly speaking I too find it a lot of a hassle to know how much I walked in day or the number of hours that I slept”

    @syedzunair: Exactly. To record things like how many steps you walked for and how many minutes you slept every day is something a normal person cannot do. If you have gadgets attached to your body that can measure this, that will make it a lot easier.

  8. Nemos
    July 28, 2012

    At first I want to give you congratulations because of the above graphs (especially the step graph) it looks like that you have a fit and active life.

    (I hope it is not only for the experiment purposes) 



  9. syedzunair
    August 7, 2012


    If you have gadgets attached to your body it might make things easier but for me it will certainly make life annoying. Who wants a couple of gadgets hooked onto themselves 24/7? 

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