Digital Health Becoming a Reality

Posted on Jan 16, 2010 | 103 comments


man running monitorBill Gates once famously said that people tend to overestimate the impact of technology in the 1-year timeframe and underestimate its impact in the 10-year timeframe.  That’s always stuck with me.

I tend not to go into heat when I hear the latest buzz on the tech blogs about the latest gadgets.  But when I read thoughtful pieces on the future of technology I start to imagine where our lives will be in 10 years.

I remember reading many years ago about how devices being connected in the cloud would be far more pervasive and have a much bigger impact on our lives than the simple PC’s that we operate.  That stuck with me, too.  I read about how in the future our heart rates would be remotely monitored, our food intake monitored and our grocery lists automatically created when our wrappers were thrown away.  Seemed such a fantasy back in 1992.

Yet 2010 is already showing me how connected our lives and our health are starting to become.  Here are 4 areas / companies that I’m excited about:

1. Withings.  Like many of you I made my annual resolutions and top of my list was getting back into shape.  I actually wrote a long blog post about this but I’m trying to get TechCrunch to publish it before putting it on my blog.  We’ll see.  There is one thing I learned a long time about about setting goals, “you manage what you measure” so you need to begin by regularly recording your weight.

Writing down your weight from your scale is obviously a manual process and it’s tedious.  Enter Withings.  It’s a wi-fi enabled scale that measures your weight, body fat and BMI (body mass index).  Your measurements are automatically sent via wi-fi to the cloud and stored in a password protected portal viewed on the web or on your iPhone.  You can also have them automatically published to Twitter; in fact, I first heard about the Withings from seeing Brad Feld Tweet about it.

I’m not that public about my weight.  I prefer the private portal.  Maybe by the end of the year ;-)

2. DailyBurn. My favorite new software tool is DailyBurn.  Under the credo of “you manage what you measure” it’s not good enough to just measure your weight.  You need to monitor what you put into your body and your exercise routine.

In January 2007 I had a resolution to lose weight and I didn’t want to do it through some crash diet like Atkins that I felt wasn’t sustainable for me.  So I signed up for the online version of Weight Watchers.  It was a simple plan – you measure what you eat and how much you exercise.  They simplify it into “points” to make it easier to keep track but these are ultimately tracked back to a combination of calories you eat with some adjustments for eating foods that aren’t processed or have high fiber vs. low.

It was a revelation to me how big my portion sizes had become relative to what the portion sizes listed on labels were.  Pounds fell off me as I stuck to an eating plan.  You can eat whatever you want as long as your daily totals don’t add up to more than your allotment (plus you get a weekly cheat).  You also enter your exercise and the more you exercise the more you’re allowed to eat per day (sort of “bonus” points).

So as I contemplated the kick off to 2010 I thought again about Weight Watchers.  Problem is – Weight Watchers software TOTALLY SUCKS.   It’s slow, loads in a pop-up and has a poor UX (user experience).  So I sent out a Tweet to ask what people in the Twittersphere used.  I got responses back for DailyBurn, The Daily Plate and LoseIt (quick aside: on Twitter Bryce Roberts had send me the link to LoseIt but I couldn’t remember the name so I searched Twitter.  Couldn’t find it through search and was getting frustrated.  So I signed into CoTweet where they store old Tweets.  Found it in 20 seconds.  Data storage in Twitter is a big problem and tools like CoTweet that solve this are essential).

I chose to use DailyBurn to monitor my eating and exercise.  It’s freakin’ awesome.  The UI is beautiful and it is so easy to find the foods that I eat every day.  Virtually every food that you can imagine is already in their database.  I went to PinkBerry last week and got their new chocolate flavor that wasn’t in the system yet so I decided to be a good citizen and enter the details into the system.  Was so easy and quick including adding an image.

So everyday I get a breakdown of the calories, fat, carbs and protein that I consume.  It also measures how much grain, protein, daily, veges, fruit and water I consume with guidelines on what I should consume.  It is really a pleasure to use the tool compared with WW.  And the starting price for WW is $18 / month … DailyBurn is free.  There is, of course, a paid version.  And even though I didn’t think I needed it (they give away everything I wanted for free) I decided to buy an annual subscription anyways.  I loved the product that much.

I also enter my workouts – mostly swimming and running.  DailyBurn could dramatically improve the UX in this area but it is comprehensive.  And, guess what?  That Withings scale I spoke about above … it integrates!  My measurements go directly to DailyBurn so I never have to key them in.

One key to sticking to goals is measurement.  The other key is making your goals public – at least to someone else who can help keep you accountable.  So DailyBurn allows you to invite friends to see your goals and help you monitor them.  When I ran the London Marathon I did this by raising money for Parkinson’s disease.  Once I took $3,000 I had a bunch of people to monitor me and felt compelled to follow through.  The part of DailyBurn can use the crowd to keep you motivated.  Social networking meets online personal health management.

But wait, there’s more!  If you have an iPhone you can scan the UPC code on the food you eat and they will be entered directly into DailyBurn done through a partnership with a company called Occipital.  No keying in required.  Now how much would you pay?!?

I got so excited about this company that I reached out to the CEO to enquire about fund raising.  Then I found out that Dave McClure had already invested along with many others in a Silicon Valley seed round even though the company is in Alabama.  Man, Dave seems to always find out about these deals earlier than I do!

Turns out DailyBurn was part of the TechStars program in Boulder.  Guess I’ll have to head out there next year before everybody else gets a look at the new batch of companies!

3. WakeMate - With eating, exercise and my weight being digitized there is obviously one major health component left out and it’s one that I’m often failing in … sleep.  Last week I went to the Inaugural Open Angel Forum run by Jason Calacanis.  5 companies presented and all were talented.  But there were 2 that struck my interest more than others and I’ve already reached out to both teams.

One of these was WakeMate.  I loved this company on multiple levels.  The product is a wristband that you wear when you sleep and it tells you how restful or not your sleep was.  It measures how many hours of sleep you get, how long it takes you to fall asleep, how much REM vs. NREM sleep you’re getting, etc.

It also wakes you up in the morning at the optimal time.  What?  Yes.  It turns out that you’ll feel more restful if you wake up in a certain stage of sleep versus another and within a time band the WakeMate determines what time to wake you up on a daily basis.

But WakeMate isn’t simply an efficient alarm clock.  The founders claim that up to 75% of the population has some form of sleep deprivation.  In our industry it must be 90+%.  WakeMate has you record things like the last time you had caffeine before sleeping, your last meal and when you last had computer or TV screen time.  It then compares the findings across nights to help you determine the root causes of any sleep problems.  Pretty cool stuff.

The other reason I loved this company was the team.  It’s two young guys who both dropped out of college to pursue their dream of becoming entrepreneurs.  One was at Yale and the other at Boston College.  They joined the YCombinator program and have raised a small amount of angel money.

I don’t endorse everybody dropping out of their undergrad programs but I do believe that if your smart, talented and have the ambition to try being an entrepreneur you should do it when you’re young and relatively unencumbered.  And as I wrote in this post, I think you need to be willing to take calculated risks to be a successful entrepreneur.

I don’t have a WakeMate yet but I plan to buy one soon.  Their first batch of shipping is due out in the next few weeks.  There are some competitors in the market such as MyZeo, but I love my wife too much to wear a headband to bed ;-)

4. Measuring my daily activity.  Next up for me is measuring my daily activities.  When I trained for the London Marathon in 2003 I bought a Nike device that I put on my shoe that measured my distance and pace via my Nike watch.  It was simply awesome.  To be redundant, “you manage what you measure” and knowing my pace and distance every day made a huge difference to my improving my times (I finished in 3:57).

So for Hanukkah I asked for the FitBit.  Unfortunately it seems that it was back-ordered due to strong demand with rumors of it selling for astronomical prices on eBay.  I wasn’t that desperate.  I got tickets to go see Anvil in concert instead ;-)  My wife asked her trainer about the FitBit and he suggested the BodyBugg instead.  I haven’t done the research yet so if anybody has any input on these devices or others please leave them in the comments section.  Now that my running is getting back into gear I want to automate the measurement process.  And hopefully whatever I buy will integrate with DailyBurn.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Agree 100%. I have a post in my mind about goal setting for companies. It's the same thing.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    If you ever want some user input into the product just let me know. I'd love to help. I have some ideas.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    David, I checked out the website – cool concept for vitaband. Seems perfect for Alzheimers, Parkinsons, Epilepsy and similar diseases. As for your claim on the website “VITAband is an essential fashion accessory” … um, not so much. If you're going for fashion you're gonna have to hire a designer to help! ;-)

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Wow, Eran, perfect timing. My dad has Parkinson's and we struggle to keep him on a system where we're sure that he takes all his pills. We've tried a few different manual systems but Medminder sounds perfect. One big problem – on the website it shows a 7×4 tray and Parkinson's patients have to take drugs 6-7 times / day. That's the big barrier for us now because none of the pillminder boxes have enough slots. Have you guys thought about this? I'd be a customer in a heartbeat if you guys had a larger box.

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  • http://jcdfitness.com/ JC

    Hey, someone sent me this link and I'm glad they did. I haven't used the FitBit – almost ordered it but after it was finally 'ready' for order I changed my mind due to many, many mixed reviews.

    I can vouch for the Bodybugg being very accurate for me whilst losing weight, gaining weight and during maintenance mode. I've also used the GoWear Fit and it's made by the same makers of the Bodybugg. It was fairly accurate as well.

    I personally hate using calorie trackers like The Daily Plate and Fitday… I've always kept track of my intake via pencil and paper on top of my microwave.

    anyhow, if you get your hands on a bbugg or a gwf, they're worth your money.

  • dwax

    thank you for the feedback. we are developing a whole suite of products in different forms and styles so that there is something everyone recognizing that people have different needs and taste.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/sharelomer SharelOmer

    Cool, for me entrepreneurship is all about the balance, the balance of a good team, technology, customer engagement and the famous WORK-LIFE balance :)

    i once heard a podcast by Mike Cassidy (http://venturehacks.com/articles/speed) that he keep to run every day at noon (saying there will be always important things at work), and eat dinner every nigh at 6:30 pm with the family…

    when your life is in balance then your work should be to :)… writing it makes me want to run…

  • http://www.medminder.com/ Eran Shavelsky

    Thanks for the feedback Mark. We have several users who use two units for more than 4 dosages a day and this works well for them. Each compartment flashes at the dosage time so the fact that there are two units does not really matter. We configure the two units under one account at http://www.medminder.com so the monitoring is simple and easy. I will be happy to ship you two units for a free two month trial. I am sure that your father will find the gentle reminders helpful and you and the family will appreciate the remote monitoring capabilities. Most of the users who try continue to use…. Hope this will help you all to better deal with the disease. Feel free to call me (617.792.9523) and we will set you up.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Thanks, JC. Appreciate the input on BudyBugg. I've heard good things about it. I'll go check out GoWear Fit, which I don't know. As for pencil / paper – works for some. Thing I personally like about online is being able to enter stuff at work and at home. And now with iPhone apps many people can enter it wherever they eat.

  • http://jcdfitness.com/ JC

    word on the ease of recording. I guess another reason I have no use for those is because I no longer track kcals anymore(for the most part). The only time I am meticulously counting is on a diet.

    I have an Android phone in the mail, you know of any good fitness related apps for that platform?

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Nope, sorry. I think the whole idea of apps per phone is stupid. But I'll save that for another post due out in the next 2 weeks.

  • dwax

    thank you for the feedback. we are developing a whole suite of products in different forms and styles so that there is something everyone recognizing that people have different needs and taste.

  • http://sharelomer.blogspot.com SharelOmer

    Cool, for me entrepreneurship is all about the balance, the balance of a good team, technology, customer engagement and the famous WORK-LIFE balance :)

    i once heard a podcast by Mike Cassidy (http://venturehacks.com/articles/speed) that he keep to run every day at noon (saying there will be always important things at work), and eat dinner every nigh at 6:30 pm with the family…

    when your life is in balance then your work should be to :)… writing it makes me want to run…

  • http://www.medminder.com/ Eran Shavelsky

    Thanks for the feedback Mark. We have several users who use two units for more than 4 dosages a day and this works well for them. Each compartment flashes at the dosage time so the fact that there are two units does not really matter. We configure the two units under one account at http://www.medminder.com so the monitoring is simple and easy. I will be happy to ship you two units for a free two month trial. I am sure that your father will find the gentle reminders helpful and you and the family will appreciate the remote monitoring capabilities. Most of the users who try continue to use…. Hope this will help you all to better deal with the disease. Feel free to call me (617.792.9523) and we will set you up.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Thanks, JC. Appreciate the input on BudyBugg. I've heard good things about it. I'll go check out GoWear Fit, which I don't know. As for pencil / paper – works for some. Thing I personally like about online is being able to enter stuff at work and at home. And now with iPhone apps many people can enter it wherever they eat.

  • http://jcdfitness.com/ JC

    word on the ease of recording. I guess another reason I have no use for those is because I no longer track kcals anymore(for the most part). The only time I am meticulously counting is on a diet.

    I have an Android phone in the mail, you know of any good fitness related apps for that platform?

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Nope, sorry. I think the whole idea of apps per phone is stupid. But I'll save that for another post due out in the next 2 weeks.

  • http://shanacarp.com/essays ShanaC

    After reading this critically twice:

    This is a market I would run away from until insurance/healthcare gets a clear mandate of what is up and what is down.

    Except for WakeMate, the products you mentioned are primarily for weight stability/weightloss.

    There is no practical reason why you couldn't import such technologies for monitoring Type 1 diabetes or for seizures, except for insurance. Truthfully, the real growth in this market is for doctors and patients who want to coordinate care. That's a growing a market (as people age and stay active, for sure: why wouldn't one want to just get a bloodtest that one's slightly enlarged phone told one to do, and go to the doctor only if something seemed out of sorts) To develop such technology is going to be prohibitive in a market where pre-existing condition clauses exist in insurance. And truthfully, probably those technologies would make insurance cheaper in the long-run (less doctor visits)- even if one would have to payout more in medications.

    Pity.

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  • http://shanacarp.com/essays ShanaC

    After reading this critically twice:

    This is a market I would run away from until insurance/healthcare gets a clear mandate of what is up and what is down.

    Except for WakeMate, the products you mentioned are primarily for weight stability/weightloss.

    There is no practical reason why you couldn't import such technologies for monitoring Type 1 diabetes or for seizures, except for insurance. Truthfully, the real growth in this market is for doctors and patients who want to coordinate care. That's a growing a market (as people age and stay active, for sure: why wouldn't one want to just get a bloodtest that one's slightly enlarged phone told one to do, and go to the doctor only if something seemed out of sorts) To develop such technology is going to be prohibitive in a market where pre-existing condition clauses exist in insurance. And truthfully, probably those technologies would make insurance cheaper in the long-run (less doctor visits)- even if one would have to payout more in medications.

    Pity.

  • http://thedreaminaction.com/ Ryan Graves

    Here's another great tech for health app.
    http://thedreaminaction.com/2010/01/19/sleep-cy

  • http://aaronwhite.tumblr.com aaronwhite

    As a Withings owner, DailyBurn Pro user, WakeMate wait-lister…. I've got to throw in my fav of the bunch: RunKeeper (iPhone GPS enabled activity tracker). KILLER for effortless measurement.

  • http://thedreaminaction.com/ Ryan Graves

    Here's another great tech for health app.
    http://thedreaminaction.com/2010/01/19/sleep-cy

  • http://aaronwhite.tumblr.com aaronwhite

    As a Withings owner, DailyBurn Pro user, WakeMate wait-lister…. I've got to throw in my fav of the bunch: RunKeeper (iPhone GPS enabled activity tracker). KILLER for effortless measurement.

  • Sarah Lawfull

    Interested in the DailyBurn Mark. Do they have a UK food database? I can't tell from their site. If it's all American then I won't be able to find foods from M&S, Waitrose, Sainsbury's and Tesco and also not so sure on the IPhone scanning app for the same reason. Agree with you on the WeightWatchers app, I lost a stone using this but the UX is proabably the worst I have ever used and that was after they revamped it!

  • Sarah Lawfull

    Interested in the DailyBurn Mark. Do they have a UK food database? I can't tell from their site. If it's all American then I won't be able to find foods from M&S, Waitrose, Sainsbury's and Tesco and also not so sure on the IPhone scanning app for the same reason. Agree with you on the WeightWatchers app, I lost a stone using this but the UX is proabably the worst I have ever used and that was after they revamped it!

  • ericmjackson

    Mark, thanks for sharing this — specific, practical lifehack suggestions are always valuable. After reading your post on Sunday, I signed up for DailyBurn and purchased their iPhone scanner product. The apps are pretty easy to use (moreso than the website), and I've generally been able to find most food items either by searching or scanning. Now I'm slowly getting into the habit of pulling out my iPhone at meal times to capture everything I've eaten. But I'm also discovering what I think is a big obstacle for people adopting this kind of technology: it takes a lot of commitment to quantify an activity that you don't normally think about. So I'm starting with the modest goal of collecting a month's worth of data to enable me to analyze trends and learn something about my diet and exercise habits. That feels a lot less daunting than starting from scratch with the goal of doing this forever, and if it yields valuable insight then I could see it becoming a permanent part of my routine.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Awesome. Thanks for the input.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    I want one, but don't have an iPhone. No AT&T coverage at my house. Zero bars. A shame.

  • http://aaronwhite.tumblr.com aaronwhite

    You're not missing too much w/o AT&T. Also, it seems highly 'plausible' that RK will find it's way to other devices at some point….

    I had to mention it though, because out of all the various biometric tools I use, RK remains in the lead for utility & actionable numbers.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Hey, Sarah! Great to hear from you. The foods are entered by users so you may find the stuff. But if it's not there you can easily enter them and once they're in the system works like a charm. WW is a good program but a shite system technically. Hope you're well!

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Useful input. I don't necessarily see myself recording eating forever but during a weight loss period and/or initial stabilization I think it's absolutely critical. It's also eye opening. My view of a “portion” of cereal for example was off by a factor of 4! Measuring helps you to normalize around normal portion sizes and thus great reduction in calories without “dieting.” Good luck.

  • ericmjackson

    Mark, thanks for sharing this — specific, practical lifehack suggestions are always valuable. After reading your post on Sunday, I signed up for DailyBurn and purchased their iPhone scanner product. The apps are pretty easy to use (moreso than the website), and I've generally been able to find most food items either by searching or scanning. Now I'm slowly getting into the habit of pulling out my iPhone at meal times to capture everything I've eaten. But I'm also discovering what I think is a big obstacle for people adopting this kind of technology: it takes a lot of commitment to quantify an activity that you don't normally think about. So I'm starting with the modest goal of collecting a month's worth of data to enable me to analyze trends and learn something about my diet and exercise habits. That feels a lot less daunting than starting from scratch with the goal of doing this forever, and if it yields valuable insight then I could see it becoming a permanent part of my routine.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Awesome. Thanks for the input.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    I want one, but don't have an iPhone. No AT&T coverage at my house. Zero bars. A shame.

  • http://aaronwhite.tumblr.com aaronwhite

    You're not missing too much w/o AT&T. Also, it seems highly 'plausible' that RK will find it's way to other devices at some point….

    I had to mention it though, because out of all the various biometric tools I use, RK remains in the lead for utility & actionable numbers.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Hey, Sarah! Great to hear from you. The foods are entered by users so you may find the stuff. But if it's not there you can easily enter them and once they're in the system works like a charm. WW is a good program but a shite system technically. Hope you're well!

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Useful input. I don't necessarily see myself recording eating forever but during a weight loss period and/or initial stabilization I think it's absolutely critical. It's also eye opening. My view of a “portion” of cereal for example was off by a factor of 4! Measuring helps you to normalize around normal portion sizes and thus great reduction in calories without “dieting.” Good luck.

  • stumacfarlane

    Hey Mark. Here's another one to take a look at: ichange.com. There's a bit of shameless self-promotion here, because I 'm running the company, but the site shares some of the same characteristics of DailyBurn with a real emphasis on helping people make themselves accountable. The site connects you with experts and support groups, with a strong emphasis on the nutrition side of weight loss. We've been fascinated by the group dynamic on the site among individuals (mainly women so far) who share the same weight loss and nutrition goals. We haven't yet integrated wi-fi connected scales or other tracking hardware, but plan to. Have a look.

  • stumacfarlane

    Hey Mark. Here's another one to take a look at: ichange.com. There's a bit of shameless self-promotion here, because I 'm running the company, but the site shares some of the same characteristics of DailyBurn with a real emphasis on helping people make themselves accountable. The site connects you with experts and support groups, with a strong emphasis on the nutrition side of weight loss. We've been fascinated by the group dynamic on the site among individuals (mainly women so far) who share the same weight loss and nutrition goals. We haven't yet integrated wi-fi connected scales or other tracking hardware, but plan to. Have a look.

  • FitBit

    I have a Fitbit and I love it. I have friends w/BodyBuggs and some of them love it and some of them returned it because once they got a good idea of what they were burning for certain types of exercise, they couldn't justify the monthly fee.

    I chose the Fitbit because it meets my needs. It is unobtrusive. I knew that the bulk and look of the BodyBugg would mean that I'd only wear it for workouts and not all day.

    The default stride for my height was shockingly accurate. YMMV but if the default is not accurate you can always change your stride length.

    The website is very user-friendly and nice to look at. The customer service is outstanding and the staff monitors the message boards and is constantly making updates and improvements to the functionality of the site. Their inclusion of user feedback in the development process is great to see.

    Unlike the BodyBugg, you don't have to pay to view (the unit has a digital display) your steps, calories, mileage, etc., nor do you have to pay to access your data with a recurring monthly fee. So for me, the price was right considering the functionality. The sleep feature (really it measures the restful/restlessness of your sleep is a bonus and quite interesting. Also the display has a flower that grows as your activity (for the most recent 3 hours) increases. The algorithm “learns” what your typical daily activity level is and adjusts over time to make it harder to earn petals for you flower. This helps motivate me to get up from my desk through out the day and take short walks that I wouldn't otherwise take.

    All in all, it's probably the best $99 I've ever spent.

  • FitBit

    P.S. As a point of clarification, by “pay to view” your data with the BodyBugg, I meant that the watch display costs extra if you want to view your information in real time.

    Also, I love that the Fitbit updates wirelessly when you are near your computer. It's very easy peasy and means that I will use it daily. It has already become routine and I forget it's there until I want to check my steps.

    Like I said, I have friends who are hardcore fitness folks who adore their BodyBuggs and if not for the bulk and the expense, I would definitely get one. But for me, the Fitbit is a better fit.

  • FitBit

    I have a Fitbit and I love it. I have friends w/BodyBuggs and some of them love it and some of them returned it because once they got a good idea of what they were burning for certain types of exercise, they couldn't justify the monthly fee.

    I chose the Fitbit because it meets my needs. It is unobtrusive. I knew that the bulk and look of the BodyBugg would mean that I'd only wear it for workouts and not all day.

    The default stride for my height was shockingly accurate. YMMV but if the default is not accurate you can always change your stride length.

    The website is very user-friendly and nice to look at. The customer service is outstanding and the staff monitors the message boards and is constantly making updates and improvements to the functionality of the site. Their inclusion of user feedback in the development process is great to see.

    Unlike the BodyBugg, you don't have to pay to view (the unit has a digital display) your steps, calories, mileage, etc., nor do you have to pay to access your data with a recurring monthly fee. So for me, the price was right considering the functionality. The sleep feature (really it measures the restful/restlessness of your sleep is a bonus and quite interesting. Also the display has a flower that grows as your activity (for the most recent 3 hours) increases. The algorithm “learns” what your typical daily activity level is and adjusts over time to make it harder to earn petals for you flower. This helps motivate me to get up from my desk through out the day and take short walks that I wouldn't otherwise take.

    All in all, it's probably the best $99 I've ever spent.

  • FitBit

    P.S. As a point of clarification, by “pay to view” your data with the BodyBugg, I meant that the watch display costs extra if you want to view your information in real time.

    Also, I love that the Fitbit updates wirelessly when you are near your computer. It's very easy peasy and means that I will use it daily. It has already become routine and I forget it's there until I want to check my steps.

    Like I said, I have friends who are hardcore fitness folks who adore their BodyBuggs and if not for the bulk and the expense, I would definitely get one. But for me, the Fitbit is a better fit.

  • http://twitter.com/cindyalvarez cindyalvarez

    The FitBit is a glorified pedometer. Granted, it has an AWESOME tiny form factor – but it really only does a good job tracking running/walking (it doesn't register my Wii Fit movements, biking, or weightlifting). Also, my first one died after less than a week; the replacement lasted a couple months and is now dead. I'd rather have my money back than get a third one.

  • http://twitter.com/cindyalvarez cindyalvarez

    The FitBit is a glorified pedometer. Granted, it has an AWESOME tiny form factor – but it really only does a good job tracking running/walking (it doesn't register my Wii Fit movements, biking, or weightlifting). Also, my first one died after less than a week; the replacement lasted a couple months and is now dead. I'd rather have my money back than get a third one.

  • http://twitter.com/markmusolino Mark Musolino

    Mark, discovered your blog today – just awesome – thanks. I'm running a startup in Pittsburgh, which happens to be home to BodyMedia, maker of the BodyBugg, and I did a little bit of data mining consulting for them a couple years back. No connection to them now, but I have used the BodyBugg — a great product, based on years of solid R&D (http://www.bodymedia.com/Learn-More/Scientific-…) that has created a strong AI engine which allows just a few simple sensors to produce a wealth of data on body behavior. While I haven't personally used the FitBit, based on the backstory to that product I just can't imagine that it's results are anywhere near as accurate as those from the BodyBugg. Granted, the FitBit is cheaper and probably a more unobtrusive wearable device, but my guess is that the BodyBugg will give you much better data, and ultimately be more useful.

    -Mark

  • Rob Greene

    A really amazing-looking product in this space is the Adidas miCoach system:

    http://www.adidas.com/us/micoach/

    They had an earlier product with this name that was probably before its time.

    What I like about it is that it incorporates a heart rate monitor with the pedometer function that the other systems use. To me, this is crucially important, since it measures your actual fitness changes and level-of-effort, rather than just how many steps you've taken.

    The website looks very well done, and has a number of workout plans for various goals, such as losing weight, running faster, etc.

    There are two different variations to the system. One is a watch-like device that tells you whether to run faster or slower, dependent on your heart rate. The more expensive option lets you plug in a set of headphones, which passes through to whatever MP3 player you use. It provides voice feedback and encouragement based on your heart rate and pedometer stats.

    Both models integrate with the web.

  • http://twitter.com/markmusolino Mark Musolino

    Mark, discovered your blog today – just awesome – thanks. I'm running a startup in Pittsburgh, which happens to be home to BodyMedia, maker of the BodyBugg, and I did a little bit of data mining consulting for them a couple years back. No connection to them now, but I have used the BodyBugg — a great product, based on years of solid R&D (http://www.bodymedia.com/Learn-More/Scientific-…) that has created a strong AI engine which allows just a few simple sensors to produce a wealth of data on body behavior. While I haven't personally used the FitBit, based on the backstory to that product I just can't imagine that it's results are anywhere near as accurate as those from the BodyBugg. Granted, the FitBit is cheaper and probably a more unobtrusive wearable device, but my guess is that the BodyBugg will give you much better data, and ultimately be more useful.

    -Mark