Wearables With Inaccurate Data Are Hardly A Fit

Posted by Jeff Hasen on January 1st, 2014 at 5:28 pm

On the morning of Dec. 25, when the most strenuous thing I had done was to push the button on my Macbook Pro, my new Fitbit Force showed that I had burned 861 calories.

I considered it a Christmas miracle.

Or a sham.

I figured that despite an exercise program that my doctor said put me in the top 1 percent of his patients, I owed it to myself, profession and gut to try on this “wearable” thing. You know the category that some claim will replace the smartphone.

Former New York Times personal technology columnist David Pogue, now reporting for Yahoo, had put the Fitbit Force on the list or products he personally would buy. That clinched it for me when my wife asked what I wanted for a holiday present.

First came the so-called “unboxing”. Pogue had warned readers about the difficulty for some in getting the band to stay on the wrist. Absolutely, that was the case. It fell off several times in the first few days of use.

Setup was significantly harder than an elevator ride. The lauded Fitbit dongle for syncing is a tiny USB stick that could easily end up in the mouth of a child or puppy. Keeping it permanently in one computer isn’t practical for me since I work on three. So it could easily be here today, gone tomorrow.

I especially was interested in downloading the app on my iPhone and iPad and syncing on the fly. Fitbit’s app is not optimized for an iPad, but that was hardly my biggest complaint.

I created a personal profile, but the numbers immediately seemed inaccurate. Why would one buy a wearable if it could not produce real measurements?

Then, for more than two days, the band and iPhone app would not sync. I grabbed the shipping box in case I needed to ship the product back to Best Buy, but finally seemingly worked out the issues by going to the problem-solving page of fitbit.com, then rebooting and resetting several things.

I knew ahead of time that I would have to input my food consumed. That makes the Force anything but setup and go, but it was a price that I was willing to pay.

I took my saga to Twitter and folks I personally know and don’t know expressed surprise that I called the experience underwhelming.

“I've seen them on all sorts of people and just like working out it's about commitment and not entertainment,” one Tweet read.

Entertainment had never crossed my mind. Information for me to make better choices is all that I’m after.

We’ll see how it goes from here.

I do know that the wearables category is among the most hyped. And that smartphones aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, so we can continue to run our mobile marketing programs and sell more stuff through the transformational device.

With CES up in a few days, expect the wearable category noise to get even louder and more crowded.

For those inclined, you can already buy something called Tikker, a wristwatch that claims to count down the seconds of your life. Of course, your time of death is estimated.

Just like my calories burned.

One Response to “Wearables With Inaccurate Data Are Hardly A Fit”

  1. John Green says:

    Good post, Jeff. I am eager to hear your longer term experience with the Ultra. I was thinking of getting one myself! Hope you're well.
    John from Hipcricket

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