There is nothing more exciting for a Health Informatics Specialist then watching the wearable technology market become reality. Earlier this year I had exclusive time with many such devices, fitness trackers, GPS trackers, heart rate monitors the list can go on to great length. Many were truly outstanding and we are on the road to quickly perfecting what eventually will be as simple and automatic as carrying house keys. The biggest challenge is not in the technology, which was more then obvious at CES. To be completely honest the challenge is to get people motivated, off the couch and away from all the delicious cookies in the cabinet. The first week of May 2013 will always be historic for me as the industry witnessed the release of the Fitbit Flex, a true wearable fitness product that without a doubt could motivate Snuffleupagus to practice a healthy lifestyle.
What is Flex
Flex is a wireless wristband on a mission to track your entire daily activity and sleep. The wristband is no bigger then a charity bracelet, weighs close to nothing, and is very comfortable. The brain of the wristband is a small removable nugget nestled into the rear of the wristband. I am unbelievable impressed with the design of both devices, and just blown away by what it has built in. The wristband can sync your info wirelessly in three different ways. An included dongle will let it wirelessly sync with your computer, PC or Mac, when you are within range to it, built in Bluetooth allows for ridiculously awesome syncing with an iPhone and the free Fitbit application. Honestly it is by far the best performing Bluetooth device I have ever used. Finally if all those options were not enough there is a built in NFC chip, that will allow syncing with all modern Galaxy Smart devices.
The wristband comes in black, slate gray, navy blue, light green, and orange. I am sure that there will be many more colors to come. Included are both the large and small sizes, so it is guaranteed to fit properly for anyone.
What Flex Can Do
- · Track your day; track steps, distance, calories burned and active minutes
- · Track your zzzz; monitor how long and how well you sleep. Wakes you up with a silent alarm
- · Wear all the time; Flex fits comfortably around your wrist all day and night
- · Online & mobile; set goals, view progress, see your leaderboard and earn badges online and on mobile devices
- · Set a personal goal; Flex uses LED lights to show you how your day is stacking up against your goal
- · Share & compete; Connect on Fitbit to share and compete with friends and family
- · Logging tools; log food, weight and more on Fitbit’s website
My Flex Experience
I wore my Flex all day, and never even knew it was on me, the wristband is very well designed and very comfortable. I walked all over my college campus to my final exams, logging almost half of my daily goals, 5,000 steps out of 10,000. Then I took a 2.5-mile walk around my campuses track with a friend, and then later that evening I went for a 5K run. It was impressive to see my results so quickly and accurately. The logging back to the Fitbit website earned me a 5,000 steps sticker and other motivating rewards. Finally I took a long hot steamy shower, with no issues, I believe Flex reported that I burned 100 calories in the shower. Tonight I will use it to track my sleep, although I toss and turn allot it will be interesting to see my results.
Flex is in a tight market with many consumer options. Jawbone just merged with Bodymedia, and I am sure there will be something stunning to come from them. Nike offers the Fuel Band, which in my opinion is more flash then business, it’s a motivating device, but clunky to wear all day. I believe that Flex will quickly out number its competition, and motivate many to practice a healthy lifestyle. Fitbit has successfully made it as easy as possible for you to get motivated and healthy, taking the positive and rewarding approach with excellent design could be the spark many are seeking daily.
Professional Suggestions – My Opinion
The Flex is so well designed from hardware and software point of view that I believe many will be using it to the max. Meaning with increased exercise comes the risk of an unfortunate health event. I say this as my opinion that future versions should be capable of tracking heart rate and alerting users that they are over doing it. It would also be nice to see Fitbit team up with a company like Road ID and offer identification tags for their wristbands. I personally witnessed the importance of having a Road ID during a half marathon in Pensacola, it truly helped emergency responders identify and properly treat a runner who was extremely dehydrated. Health Informatics specialist like myself are implementing awesome electronic health record systems all over the country, and in 2014 it will be law that your physician has one and is using it meaningfully. Having your daily activity fitness data paired up with your EHR records would be a huge win.
How to Get One Today!
Flex has a retail price of $99, and it’s worth every cent. You can order one today from the Fitbit website or at your local Best Buy.
I tip my hat to the people at Fitbit for making an excellent product. Keep up the good work!