|Founded||San Francisco, California, United States (October 2007 )|
|Headquarters||San Francisco, CA, USA|
|Key people||James Park, CEO
Eric Friedman, CTO
Fitbit Inc. is a company headquartered in San Francisco, California, United States. Founded and managed by James Park and Eric Friedman, the company is known for its products of the same name, which are activity trackers, wireless-enabled wearable devices that measure data such as the number of steps walked, quality of sleep, and other personal metrics. The first of these was the Fitbit Tracker. The average price of a Fitbit is between $60 and $130, depending on the model. However, data cannot be downloaded off the Fitbit website unless one pays the premium membership price of $49 per year. Intraday data analysis cannot be downloaded at all.
The Fitbit Tracker uses a three-dimensional accelerometer, similar to that in the Wii Remote, to sense user movement. The Tracker measures steps taken, and combines it with user data to calculate distance walked, calories burned, floors climbed, and activity duration and intensity. It uses an OLED display to display this and other information such as the battery level. It also measures sleep quality by tracking periods of restlessness, how long it takes the wearer to fall asleep, and how long they are actually asleep.
A wireless base station is included to receive data from the Tracker and also charge its battery. When connected to a computer the base station will upload data to the Fitbit website, where a number of features are available: seeing an overview of physical activity, setting and tracking goals, keeping food and activity logs, and interacting with friends. Use of the website is free.
The Fitbit Classic tracked only steps taken, distance travelled, calories burned, activity intensity, and sleep. It was designed to be a small black and teal device that could be clipped discreetly onto clothing and worn 24/7.
September 9, 2008, at TechCrunch50 during the "Mobile" session. Fitbit received positive reactions during its panel from experts like Rafe Needleman, Tim O'Reilly, and Evan Williams who cited its wearability, price point, and lack of subscription fees.
A new hardware upgrade was announced on October 3, 2011, called the Fitbit Ultra. The new features included:
- an altimeter that measures elevation gain in terms of floors, with one floor roughly equivalent to ten feet.
- a digital clock visible on the device’s display
- a stopwatch that can be used to time activities
- randomized “Chatter” messages show when the Ultra is moved after sitting idle for a while, and there’s a custom field to write in a personal “Greeting”.
- new colors (plum or blue, as opposed to the original teal)
Announced on September 17, 2012, the Fitbit One is an update to the Fitbit Ultra that uses a more vivid digital display, has a separate clip and a separate charging cable and wireless sync dongle. The Fitbit One and the Fitbit Zip were the first wireless activity trackers to sync using Bluetooth 4.0 or Bluetooth SMART technology. The wireless syncing is currently available on newer iOS and Android devices such as the iPhone 4S and higher, iPad 3rd generation, iPod touch 5th generation, Samsung Galaxy Note II and higher, Samsung Galaxy S III and higher, LG G2, HTC One, Moto X, and Nexus 4 or higher. Fitbit One can record several daily activities, including but not limited to, number of steps taken, distance travelled on foot, number of floors climbed, calories burned, vigorously active minutes, sleep efficiency, delicate movements during sleep, number of wake-ups during sleep, etc. Although it has a good sensitivity but limited precision which means Fitbit one can accurately detect a sedentary period and an active period, however it cannot estimate the number of steps taken accurately.
Announced on September 17, 2012, the Fitbit Zip is roughly the size of a quarter and tracks only steps taken, distance travelled, and calories burned. Compared to the other Fitbit trackers, the Zip is the first Fitbit product to include a disposable battery. It also has a lower price point than other Fitbit trackers. Similar to the Fitbit One, it is able to sync its data wirelessly to supported mobile devices, such as the iPhone 4S and higher, iPad 3rd generation, iPod touch 5th generation, Samsung Galaxy Note II and higher, Samsung Galaxy S III and higher, LG G2, HTC One, Moto X, and Nexus 4 or higher.
In May 2013, Fitbit released the Fitbit Flex, which is a device that one wears on the wrist. It tracks movement 24 hours a day, including sleep patterns. It has a simple display of 5 LED lights which indicate the number of steps taken in a day, and it vibrates to indicate that your goal has been reached. The lights also indicate battery level. The Fitbit Flex has almost all the same sync functions as the Fitbit One and Zip. Compared to the One, the altimeter has been removed. The Flex is also the first water-resistant tracker; it can be worn while showering and swimming. The Fitbit flex includes a specialized USB charger; the battery lasts 5-7 days, and it takes 1-2 hours to charge.
The Fitbit Force was announced on October 10, 2013. It has an OLED display that shows time and daily activity. The Force tracks a number of statistics in real-time, including steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned, stairs climbed and active minutes throughout the day. At night, the Force tracks sleep and can wake a user silently with a vibrating alarm.
On January 13, 2014 it was reported that an unconfirmed number of Fitbit customers who have purchased the Force have complained about skin irritation after wearing the Force for extended periods of time. Fitbit stated on its website that the company consulted with medical professionals whose assessments are that these irritations are most likely allergic reactions to nickel, a component of the surgical-grade steel or the adhesives used to assemble the Fitbit Force. Fitbit, working with the Consumer Protection Safety Commission, recalled the Fitbit Force on February 20, 2014. On March 12, 2014 the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) made the recall official. At that time it was revealed that The Fitbit Force had caused about 9,900 injuries.
In April 2012, Fitbit released a "Wi-Fi smart scale" called the Fitbit Aria. It recognizes users who are wearing Fitbit trackers and measures weight, body mass index (BMI) and percentage of body fat of the user. It can keep track of eight individual users and updates information to fitbit.com automatically via Wi-Fi network. The information is also updated to the mobile apps.
Fitbit Mobile Apps
In October 2011, just a few weeks after the launch of the Fitbit Ultra, Fitbit launched a native app for the iPhone. In March 2012 Fitbit launched a native app for Android. Users could log their food, activities, water intake, and weight, as well as track their fitness goals throughout the day even while offline. Originally the iOS and Android apps could only retrieve data from the user's Fitbit account, rather than connecting directly to the fitness tracker, but in September 2012 the Fitbit One and Zip were announced with Bluetooth support for syncing directly with phones. When the One and Zip were released, only newer iOS devices were supported, but in February 2013, Fitbit released an update that would allow wireless syncing from Fitbit One and Zip devices to the Samsung Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note II. An update in May 2013 added support for the Galaxy S4, and on January 6, 2014, Fitbit announced an update to the Android app adding support for many more devices including the Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Moto X, HTC One, and LG G2. On July 28, 2014, the official Windows Phone app was released.
Fitbit offers a free website that can be used with or without the Fitbit Tracker. Users have the ability to log their food, activities, weight, blood pressure, heart rate, and glucose levels to track over time. Users also have the ability to set daily and weekly goals for themselves for steps, calories burned and consumed, and distance walked.
Fitbit.com dashboard also has the ability for users to connect existing applications from other providers such as Loseit, Myfitnesspal, and many others to have cumulative data collection in one location for a more complete personal health report.
Fitbit allows users to set a food plan for themselves on the website or the mobile app based on a weight goal. The food plan tool has four different intensity settings users can choose from, and gives a range of calorie consumption to aim for each day. This number updates dynamically with any activities logged on the Fitbit website or synced with the Fitbit Tracker. It also gives a projected date for reaching the weight goal which updates as the user logs their weight.
On August 9, 2011, Fitbit launched badges for various step and distance milestones. Step badges could be earned based on how many steps a user took in a single day, while lifetime distance badges gave users a badge based on how much distance they've logged since they started using the Fitbit Tracker. With the launch of Fitbit Ultra, they came out with new Ultra-only badges that can be earned for floor climbing, and launched new step and distance badges that anyone could earn.
Starting in June 2011, Fitbit was criticized for its website's default activity sharing settings, which made users' manually entered physical activities available for public viewing. All users had the option to make their physical activity information private, but some users were unaware that the information was public by default. One specific issue which technology blogs made fun of was that some users were including details about their sex lives in their daily exercise logs, and this information was by default publicly available. Fitbit responded to criticism by making all such data private by default and requesting that search engines remove indexed user profile pages from their databases.
In April 2014, the company stated that selling companies tracking information on employees health is becoming "one of the fastest growing parts of Fitbit's business."
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- "Fitbit Store". Retrieved 6 February 2013.
- Greene, Kate (September 10, 2008). "Self Surveillance". Technology Review. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved September 19, 2009.
- Wilson, Mark. "Fitbit’s Newest Gadget: 24/7 Fitness Tracking Meets 24/7 App Syncing". Co.Design by Fast Company. Retrieved 26 January 2013.
- "The best activity tracker yet... The Fitbit Force reviewed".
- [CEO letter 2/20/14: https://www.fitbit.com/forcesupport]
- [CPSC recall https://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/2014/Fitbit-Recalls-Force-Activity-Tracking-Wristband/]
- Smith, Jack. "Fitbit Is Now Officially Profiting From Users' Health Data". BetaBeat.