Fitbit is a startup trying to leverage the rising wellness trend- they manufacture a small device that you can wear throughout the day to find out how much physical activity you did, how well you slept etc. The tiny device sells for $99 and contains a motion sensor (like the Nintendo Wii) that converts 3D motion data into useful interpretations about your lifestyle. In a 7-day period, whenever you are in range of it’s base-station, the data is automatically uploaded to the Fitbit website where you can get detailed view into the past data and summarized reports. There are also some social networking aspects built in (like collaborate on fitness goals with your co-workers, friends)The tracker measures the intensity and duration of your physical activities, calories burned, steps taken, distance traveled, how long it took you to fall asleep, the number of times you woke up throughout the night and how long you were actually asleep vs just lying in bed. Regardless of data accuracy and clinical efficacy, I think the concept is brilliant. We are slowly moving away from the I’ll-use-what-my-insurance-pays-for mentality to a more proactive mindset where consumers are taking thier wellness matters into thier own hands.
Fitbit represents the impending wave of consumer-oriented, internet enabled service providers that effectively combine hardware and software to provide a compelling solution around a healthcare issue. The future holds great potential for similar lifestyle-management solutions that can help affected individuals manage their chronic diseases (heart failure, diabetes, hypertension, asthma, etc.)
18th December 2009 Update: Got my FitBit in mail today! Will use it over next few months and report back.
October 2010 Update: Still using it. Satisfied with the battery performance, easy of use. Unsatisfied with the analytics and interpretation provided. They now charge $49 for a premium account that gives in-depth analysis of your data. I’ve not signed up yet. Google Health partnership was announced recently too. Fitbit will share 3 things: calories burned, steps taken and daily distance with Google Health.