Fitbit kicks it up a notch with new wristband, the Flex

Faith Merino · May 6, 2013 · Short URL:

The wearable monitor means no more losing your Fitbit device

In the world of the quantified self, there are so many devices from which to choose. You can go with the Jawbone Up, or the Nike Fuelband, or the Fitbit One. Now, in the words of Jillian Michaels in her sadistic 30-Day Shred videos, “it’s time to kick it up another notch.” (“No!” you scream, sweaty and red-faced in your living room, “I have no more notches!”)

Today, Fitbit launched its newest product, the Flex—a tiny device hidden in a flexible, wearable wristband. Sure, nothing new here. Jawbone did it. Nike did it. Basis is another one that's getting lots of attention (Raj Kapoor and Robert Scoble were both wearing Basis monitors at our most recent Vator Splash).

What makes Fitbit Flex different lies in its NFC chip, which allows the device to automatically and wirelessly sync data to an app or the Fitbit Web dashboard. With the Jawbone Up, you have to plug the device into your phone to sync, and with the Fuelband, you have to manually sync.

Additionally, the Flex is launching with Android and iPhone compatibility, where the Fuelband is only compatible with iOS.

Of course, what matters more than ease of use is accuracy. Some of the products out there have been found lacking, particularly where accelerometers and steps counted are concerned. But Fitbit claims that the Flex is the most accurate product on the market.

Fitbit was one of the first wearable health product companies on the scene, but to date, they’ve all been clip-on devices that you could secure to your belt or bra, or slip in your pocket. Then the problem becomes how not to leave your Fitbit device in your pocket when you go to wash your clothes.

The Flex is definitely a logical and intuitive step up. The Flex, which currently retails for $99.95, measures steps taken, calories burned, active minutes, and distance traveled, as well as hours slept and the quality of sleep. And the Flex comes with a built-in silent alarm that gently vibrates to wake you up.

Additionally, the wristband features five LED lights that track your progress. As each light comes on, it means you’ve accomplished 20% of your daily goal.

The news comes just one week after Jawbone acquired BodyMedia and opened up its API. BodyMedia’s wearable health tracker is bulky, but one of the most advanced platforms, having been around for 14 years. BodyMedia’s platform is the only technology platform that is registered with the FDA as a Class II medical device that is clinically proven to help with weight loss. Additionally, the company has amassed a huge database of information about the human body, and its data and technology have been used in over 100 clinical research studies on health issues like obesity, cancer, cystic fibrosis, and more.

So it sounds like Jawbone is definitely looking at upping the ante soon. Will Fitbit be able to top it?

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Did I get enough exercise today? How many calories did I burn? Am I getting good quality sleep? How many steps and miles did I walk today? The Fitbit Tracker helps you answer these questions.