They make me smile but I’ve learned to discount FitBit’s attaboy awards because they’re generally meaningless.
Over the past two years I’ve learned that the sensor on my FitBit One is quite inaccurate, at least for the activities I prefer. It delivers relatively accurate tracking for a limited set of activities like walking or running. I believe its results when FitBit’s dashboard reports that I walked farther today than yesterday, but don’t trust the specific counts for any given day or activity.
When I compare metrics (steps walked) between my iPhone 6s and the FitBit One for the same walk or hike, the numbers don’t agree. I’m inclined to believe the iPhone is closer to accuracy…
My FitBit is way off for yoga, kayaking and biking. It either measures almost nothing at all (yoga or kayaking), or in the case of biking, measures the revolutions of my foot on the crank rather than the distance the bike has traveled.
And last week I learned that my FitBit One is also unable to track my steps while cross-country or Nordic skiing.
Was it the gliding strides, or did the cold outdoor temperatures put the sensor out of commission?
Over the Christmas holiday week I skied for several hours each day, a highly aerobic activity, yet my tracked results were scarcely better than my performance during a more typical (and sadly sedentary) work week.
Based on time and effort expended on XC skiing, I expected that FitBit would report much better activity measures than my normal performance for a week. Instead the daily measures were lackluster, according to this chart.
Given similar concerns about faulty tracking results, my husband gave up on his FitBit months ago.
I know enough about the technology to realize manufacturers must be willing to install more sensors, and much higher quality sensors, before tracking devices can produce accurate results. An integral GPS component is probably required too.
So I conclude: Why spend several hundred dollars on a fashion version bracelet or watch style tracking device when the fundamental value proposition remains so flawed?
Net net: a new FitBit or equivalent will not be in my device budget for 2016. I’m criticizing FitBit here, but my larger point is that fitness tracking devices, as a category, need substantive improvements in sensor tracking and reporting before they’re worth the money they cost the consumer.