I have always been intrigued to understand a bit more about what my body goes through on an average day, from how I have slept through to how far I have walked. Over the years technology has made some of this information more and more accessible; Pedometers have been around for years but with the introduction of GPS and gyroscopes in smart phones, it is now easy to track where you walk, how far and how many steps you took on an ad-hoc basis using a device you carry with you most of the time anyway. There are even apps which can help track your sleep. However, there are somethings where I don’t want to have to rely on my phone. So, I have watched with interest the evolution of “Wearable Tech”. Indeed, at CES (Consumer Electronics Show) this year, Wearable Tech was high on the agenda.
Wearable Tech comes in many forms from the infamous, still in development, Google Glass through to the ever more popular Pebble watch. For the information I was interested in, the main players were Nike Fuel Band, JawBone and Fitbit. Of all of them, it was the Fitbit devices, specifically the Fitbit One, which appealed to me; This was because it wasn’t a device you wore on your wrist like the Nike Fuel Band, JawBone or Fitbit Flex, instead having a small waist clip pouch making it much more discrete. It also had a small screen and had the functionality to monitor sleep. After much debating (Did I really need it? Would I use it? Would I lose it? Would I become obsessed by it?), I popped one on my Christmas list and was fortunate enough to unwrap one on Christmas Day!
I have been using it for over 3 weeks now and I have to say, I really love it as a device. Aesthetically it’s so lightweight that it’s never a burden to wear so I have it on almost all the time. I have also slept with it pretty much every night – it just slots in to a light-weight band I velcro to my wrist. It has just become something I wear like my watch – it’s just ‘there’ and I only glance at it when I need to. Functionally, one of my favourite features is how it shows calories burned, using Base Metabolic Rate to show natural calorie burn across the day just from being the gender / height / weight that you are. It’s only based on statistical averages but it’s still informative and a reminder of why you will be hungry when you wake-up!
Shortly after getting my Fitbit One, I read an article in The Guardian which called out the very real risk that people could become overly conscious about everything they do as a result of Wearable Tech such as this. However, from my usage I’m not sure I agree very strongly with the writer. Everything has the potential to become addictive but in this case it’s how you use the information that is key. I haven’t found myself panicking at the end of the day if I haven’t hit my 10,000 step goal. But on the flip side, it has encouraged me to be a bit more active on days when I am just having a lazy day at home. I have also found it interesting seeing a profile of my sleep; Whilst not excessively scientific it does show when I have been restless and can often explain a very groggy and sluggish start to the day.
In a world where everything ‘active’ seems to be getting more and more extreme (this article from the Daily Mail makes an interesting read) is it wrong to focus a bit more attention on just being a bit more active as part of ‘normal’ daily life? In my opinion, it can only be a good thing if Joe and Jane Average become a bit more aware about how much, or little, they move vs. how much they probably should be to stay healthy. People have become much less active than years past and as a population we tend to over-estimate how much we work our bodies daily. Of course if you have a history of eating disorders or over-training then it’s a different situation.
Am I happy I got my Fitbit One? Yes, I enjoy seeing a download of my day and having that additional motivation to wander to the shop when it’s drizzling rather than wimping out and going in the car.
Would I recommend a Fitbit One (or an alternative Activity / Sleep Tracker) as something worth buying? Certainly if you want to see how active you are and be encouraged to become more active then it’s a great addition to make to your tech collection. Just remember, it’s there to help you not rule you so if you have the occasional sofa day, so what!