Fitness/wellness trackers have amazing potential–to annoy

click to enlargeYour Editors have previously noted some interesting personal experiences with fitness bands/trackers. Editor Charles, at last report, was on his third Jawbone Up in a year; this Editor has remained immune to their mostly clonky charms (tempted by the classic Swiss watch looks of Withings Activité [TTA 26 June 14], put off by the $450 price, but now notes that the sporty, analog Activité Pop is available in the US at $150.) Even if not among the Quantified Self avant-garde, we who write about tech can deal with most of it without blinking too much. Over at FierceMobileHealthcare, Judy Mottl, a regular writer for their FierceHealthIT website, took “the plunge into the wearable device pool” and hit her head on the bottom. Her experience of mostly frustration with the app, bad data generation, inability to sync with the smartphone, saying you’re awake/sleeping when not and so on indicates that this is one wearable she should have returned to the store–or treated according to our picture. Is this one isolated example or a more common experience than the healtherati who adore wearables let on?

There’s some evidence that the leaders in fitness bands realize their shortcomings on the app side. Fitbit acquired fitness coaching app developer, FitStar, for at least $17.8 million. Mobihealthnews

Update 2 April: Editor Charles reports on his third Jawbone Up, and his daughters’ experience:

I took to wearing the third Jawbone UP the other way round – i.e. with the two ends in line with the back of my hand, and the thicker bit in line with the inside of my hand and that seems to have done the trick. However my older daughter bought one at Christmas which packed up a week ago and my younger daughter’s, also bought at Christmas is starting to do bizarre things like record one minute of sleep. [Editor’s emphasis] They clearly have some way to improve reliability.

However they are brilliant motivators – my daughters and I have been competing over steps stepped, weight lost, hours slept etc., and I’m sure the Bluetoothed version would be great cheap ways of checking how older people are. I’m a huge fan – just wish they could make them more reliable!


Earlier in TTA: Smartwatches, fitness trackers: overload in several ways

Categories: Latest News.


  1. Hi Donna and Happy Easter! Hard to tell by your title if the potential to annoy referred to the wearer of said wearable trackers, or the potential to annoy all the other people around the wearer. For example, at our regular Saturday morning hike/coffee, two of our friends have fallen madly, obsessively in love with their new Fitbits and now regale the rest of us non-stop with each week’s activity milestones in great (*yawn*) detail. If I have to hear one more exciting story (like all the times they were headed for bed until they noticed that their Fitbit friend was marginally ahead of their own step totals so they had to leap up and jog on the spot for 200 more steps), I swear I’m going to rip the Fitbit right off their wrists.

    Sigh . . .

    • Donna CusanoDonna Cusano

      Hi Carolyn–
      Well, it can be two–yes, two–annoyances in one! Thanks for bringing this up. Gee, I thought only New Yorkers engaged in this one-upmanship! Well, it’s good that they are so engaged in their fitness that they can’t rest….

      Ask them how they slept after.

      Of course, if you really want to give your friends the gift of dyspepsia…tell them that their Fitbits (or Pebbles, or Jawbones) provide only directionally, not clinically accurate data. Those 200 steps may have only been 125. Do it with a pitying look and a yawn, that anyone would know this of course. Dr. Kvedar told you so! ;-)

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