Well, well, well, if I wasn’t surprised at getting a Fitbit Charge HR from my family as a birthday present. Especially after Becky Stern was talking about her 20 sleep interruptions with a Microsoft Band on the last Wearable Wednesday show. I’m all about wanting more sleep, so I was excited to get my purple band set up. It was definitely easy to do, and in a few short minutes I was rocking my Fitbit. You quickly learn it buzzes your wrist when you’ve done something good, like pairing it with an Iphone. The following apps shots were taken from Fitbit’s site.
I received my band shortly before going to bed, so I just had enough time to figure out how it works and a little bit about the functionality. Of course I was most excited to give it a sleep test, so after some minimal whining about feeling awkward on my wrist, I called it a night. The next morning after awaking using the silent buzz alarm on the band, I had a nice graph awaiting me. It showed that I woke up once and was restless 14 times. Now this was on the normal setting, so I’m curious to see what happens on the sensitive setting. The next day I slept in, and on the app I found that a new goal of sleep was announced. I guess I was such a fail at sleep that it used an algorithm to help me out. I’m not going to argue; I’ll let you know how that experiment works out.
The main goal of a Fitbit is to keep you active, so throughout the day you can tap the screen to check your steps–starting goal is 10,000/day. They make this fun by adding badges you can earn, starting with a Boat Shoe at 5,000. It’s cute and the band offers a little buzz reminder that you’ve done something good. You can certainly escalate your accountability by adding friends and even challenges. I’ve already added one and she and I have been discussing what we like so far about the band. Keeping tabs on goals is definitely a plus. You can also track exercise like running, hiking and walking. I’m not sure yet what to do about biking, but the built-in heart rate sensor is certainly picking up changes and comparing to your various fat burning zones. Like the step count, your heart rate is always being monitored, so you can tap the screen to see that as well.
Another critical piece to the health puzzle is certainly food and water intake. Fitbit allows goals for each, and I can tell you water is my weak spot. I really need to throw some fruit slices in the mix! Anyway, food logging is similar to apps like My Fitness Pal, only the list of foods is not as substantial. So, sometimes I find myself looking them up on the web. It’s a small price to pay for having everything on one app.
As you can see this band has a lot of great features. A nice surprise is the fact that it also shows you the caller ID when your phone rings. So, you can really just put your phone away and feel confident you aren’t missing anything. I’m hoping to shed a few pounds, so will this work? Well, let’s just say I still owed 1,500 steps at 11:30 PM and I was practically trotting in my parking lot at my condo to get them all in before the day was up. So, for now I can say that it is starting some good habits. I really enjoy the heart rate sensor because it’s surprising to see what affects your heart throughout the day. I noticed that just having a discussion about the upcoming week’s schedule started to increase my heart rate. So, you can see how stress easily affects the body. This can all be a great lead-in for some STEM education, and you don’t even need a fancy Fitbit. You can take an Arduino and connect it to a Pulse Sensor Amped. It’s a small heart rate sensor that just attaches to your finger with velcro or to your earlobe with a clip. It’s great for demos with young people and makes a great afternoon maker project. So, start teaching others about the importance of heart health.
Every Wednesday is Wearable Wednesday here at Adafruit! We’re bringing you the blinkiest, most fashionable, innovative, and useful wearables from around the web and in our own original projects featuring our wearable Arduino-compatible platform, FLORA. Be sure to post up your wearables projects in the forums or send us a link and you might be featured here on Wearable Wednesday!