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Wearable Technology: A Case Study of Fitbit

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Weight loss and weight management are concerns on many consumers’ minds and so are big business. There are countless programs, clubs and plans to lose or manage weight. ¬†Fitbit, a company with a number of wearable technology products, eliminates plans and helps users get back to the basics: eating right and keeping active.

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Fitbit offers consumers four different varieties of calorie-tracking, step-counting, wearable devices in a broad range of colors and sizes. Tiny touch screens worn on the wrist, in a pocket or otherwise report to users the steps they’ve taken that day, their calorie burn, an emoticon relating to their recent activity and other information. A few Fitbits also track sleep patterns and some track flights of stairs climbed. In addition to their wearable technology line, Fitbit also offers a WiFi scale that pairs with Fitbits and users’ online accounts.

The trackers sync to a USB dongle (wireless adapter) plugged into ¬†the user’s computer. Through a free online Fitbit account, members can access a dashboard that displays their steps that day, a graph of how many steps they took every 15 minutes, the number of “very active minutes” they reached that day, how they are measuring up to their friends’ steps that week and even more data. This information is also available on smartphones and tablets through the free Fitbit app. Fitbit additionally works with nearly 40 other groups and apps to help track weight, calories consumed, sleep and so forth. The steps members take can count as exercise and calorie burn on their MyFitnessPal account, for instance, to earn more calories to eat that day.

The online platform and app can also be used to track calorie intake and workouts. Fitbit has an online library of calories in food by restaurant, brand name or recipe name to help users track their food intake. Additionally, users can pay for a premium account to gain access to an assigned personal trainer, nutritionist and sleep consultant.

Fitbit knows that incentives and community help people do anything. With badges to earn at milestones and connecting with other users and friends that use Fitbits, the products work as a built-in cheerleader. Weekly emails report seven day step totals, calorie deficits, and how well users did against their friends. Forums, activity groups and discussions are all interactive on the Fitbit website. Of course, consumers can also connect with Fitbit via social media: Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter for healthy tips, recipes and exercise ideas. Fitbit engages users on many levels.

A group of Ohio-based Fitbit members all report that they have either lost weight or maintained the weight they want using the trackers. “My mom, dad, sister and I all have Fitbits. I know that if I don’t take the stairs at work and play outside with the kids, my dad will beat me for the week. That little frowny face on the screen really motivates me too!” said one member. Another user reported that she ran more: “If I skip one of my runs during the week, my best friend will get more steps in than me. Neither of us can out step my sister though!” The Fitbit builds community and competition at the same time while encouraging users to get more active.

Fitbit, while doing weight loss aid via wearable technology right, has some stiff competition. Nike’s Fuelband has lot of similar features but only has the one model at a higher price point than many Fitbits. Movable is another company offering a similar bracelet, but their client base focuses on companies looking to reduce insurance costs by getting their employees moving, not individual users. Jawbone sells lightweight headsets to sync with smartphones, tiny but loud speakers and now a bracelet, the “Up,” that competes with Fitbit’s most feature-heavy bracelet. Up tracks steps, sleep and can send alerts to users when they’ve been idle too long among other features. The Up app also guides users to track their mood and caffeine intake. Fitbit is the only company presently offering multiple sizes of trackers at varying price points. The company needs to continue to innovate to stay near the top of the herd.

Fitbit is winning awards and being used by big name celebrities. Their products and accompanying apps and features keeps users aware of their activity level which helps them maintain a healthy lifestyle. As far as wearable technology goes, Fitbits are a popular and healthy option that are much more than a pedometer.

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