March 20, 2012, 8:30 AM —
Are you familiar with Fitbit? It's a $99 device that you clip on somewhere (I put mine on the collar of my t-shirt; I think a lot of the ladies slip it onto their bras) in order to track how many steps you take in a given day. The Fitbit also comes with a tiny USB-based charger/receiver and every time you come within range of your PC the Fitbit uploads your progress to your personal dashboard on the Fitbit site.
Basically it's an incentive system that will hopefully motivate you to take a walk at lunch instead of sitting at your desk and having another donut. The web site tracks your progress towards a goal (the default is 10K steps/day but you can change it) as well as tracking things like "Floors Climbed." On Sunday, Fitbit tells me, I took 12,215 steps and climbed 28 floors, the equivalent of climbing The La Danta Pyramid.
In addition to steps, the Fitbit website lets you track the food you eat, your weight and other general fitness-related statistics, but up until now I've never used that stuff because it all requires record-keeping and remembering to enter your data later. Yesterday that changed for me when I learned (via Android Central) that Fitbit has released an Android app (they already offered an app for the iPhone). This app lets me quickly enter activities, the food I eat, and the amount of water I drink. I'm much more likely to track these things when I can enter the info on my phone while it's fresh in my mind.
Of course the real incentive would be giving you a running total of how many steps you've taken. We aren't there yet. You still need to pass by the receiver which is probably going to be connected to your home computer. You can always look at the Fitbit itself (it has a digital readout) but wouldn't it be cool if it could somehow sync with your phone via Bluetooth and prompt you via a text when you're falling behind your goal? "Only 2,000 steps so far today. Good time to take a walk!"
Maybe we'll get there someday, but for now the addition of the Android app is a nice step in the right direction. I like wearing the Fitbit; it pulls those gamification strings nicely. I walk the dog farther when I'm wearing it than when I'm not, and I have to admit I feel a sense of pride when I make my goals.
The next step for me is getting Fitbit's Aria scale when it launches. My understanding is, you just step on it once a day and it uploads your weight, BMI and body fat percentage to your Fitbit dashboard. Swanky!
If you're an Android-using Fitbit-wearer, grab the app today!
Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.