It’s still early days for activity tracking devices but they are evolving quickly. One of the biggest issues preventing them from really capturing the mainstream more is the ability to draw insights. They all currently capture data and give us reporting but they don’t provide us with simple feedback on changes we need to make to improve performance or health based on the data.
This review of the Fitbit Flex written by Nick Statt captures this issue well
it [Fitbit Flex] leaves me on my own to figure out what to do next. I love the info I’m getting, but I still don’t know how best to utilize the data or exactly when or how to change this habit and that behavior.
As I was doing my simultaneous testing of 4 activity trackers I was contacted by Jonny Farringdon who is the Director of Informatics for Bodymedia offering to provide me with custom reporting. I was excited about the prospects of this and quickly agreed to grant him access to my data. Several weeks later he provided me with some rich reports that are available in the research version of their product that is normally used by universities and research groups. The activity breakdown in this report was first done during their partnership with The Biggest Loser and he let me know that the sleep stage analysis is still a work in progress.
The reporting I was provided with gave me more information to digest that isn’t easy to glean from the current reports. While there weren’t any conclusions or insights provided, it’s clear that Bodymedia understands this need and is trying to make the raw data more digestible. Bodymedia was an early player in activity tracking and through their customer base has clearly realized what it’s going to take for their product to reach the next level. Between that and the fact that they are now combined with Jawbone I see some major advancements coming from them leading the pack in the near future.
Below is a great talk that Jonny gave at the Boston Quantified Self meetup in May. He goes over many of the things that distinguish Bodymedia from other trackers as well as shows new products that are coming soon.