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Starting a Fitbit Experiment

As part of my trip to the Freescale Technology Forum, I was introduced to the Fitbit Ultra, a wireless activity and sleep tracker. One of the themes of FTF this year was "connected intelligence." We are a community that is becoming obsessed with tracking data, especially personal data.

So, I'll bite. Let's do this thing. Over the next month, I'll go through the process and document it here for your entertainment (or mockery -- I'm pretty sure I walk maybe ten steps within a day).

The first thing I noticed upon opening the box, other than the wonderful smell of hotel soap, was directions to go to to set up the device. It doesn't seem to work unless you set up a profile. Fair enough. Everything these days wants us to log in to something or another.

The first step on the Website is to install some software (Windows and Mac versions available). Setup is easy. The installation asks for some basic health information like height, weight, and gender. Next up, plug in the USB drive and the Fitbit Tracker base station to the computer. The hardest part so far is getting the little Fitbit out of the plastic display. Help! I feel like I need directions just to open the packaging.

Alright, the charging icon lights up, asks me to enter a greeting (my name), and we're all done. Took about five minutes. Not bad.

After logging into my new account, it directs me to my dashboard, where all my stats are zero. A popup screen gives advice on how to wear it and provides a little tutorial. Throughout the day, you can press the button on the tracker to see the following:

  1. The number of steps taken
  2. The distance traveled
  3. How many calories burned
  4. A flower image that indicates by its size how active I've been
  5. The number of floors I've climbed

In addition to tracking daily activity levels, the Fitbit will also track my sleep patterns. Included with the package is a wristband. Connect the Fitbit to the wristband, hold down the button until it says start, and go to sleep. Seems simple enough.

Within the Fitbit is a wireless sync, so you don't have to take it off unless the battery is dead. Walk within 15 feet of the base station, and it will send your data to your progress dashboard.

As you can see, a few moments after plugging the Fitbit in, I've already burned 780 calories. Not sure how that happened. Could be an error or an assumption on the standard calories burned from 12:00 a.m. to 2:42 p.m., when I synced up the device. It's not entirely clear yet.

Suddenly, I have the urge to go walk 10,000 steps.

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