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Fitbit Force Sales Stopped and Voluntary Recall Begins

The CEO of Fitbit has announced that they have stopped sales of the Fitbit Force and offered a voluntary recall. If you have a Fitbit Force and would like to get a refund, they have set up a dedicated page on their website or call 888-656-6381.

Here’s a comment from the CEO about the reason for the recall:

Late last year, we began selling Fitbit Force, our most advanced activity tracker. Recently, some Force users have reported skin irritation. While only 1.7% of Force users have reported any type of skin irritation, we care about every one of our customers. On behalf of the entire Fitbit team, I want to apologize to anyone affected.

Of course, we know the difference in number between people who report problems and those that have them is very different. It is interesting that their test results show that users are likely experiencing allergic contact dermatitis.

When you think about a watch based product like this, you’d think that the science of materials for watches would be solid. It seems really odd to me that Fitbit and their pile of investor dollars didn’t tap into this science to avoid an issue like this.

The timing for this is also interesting with so many people touting the Fitbit Force as their giveaway at HIMSS 2014. Well, I guess winners now have an easy way to cash it in for $130 if they want as opposed to heading to eBay.

James Park, Fitbit CEO, does note that they’re working on their next generation tracker. I won’t be surprised if the Fitbit Force brand never sees the light of day again. I’m pretty sure they’ll want to take the lessons learned and move forward and put the Force behind them.

February 21, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 5000 articles with John having written over 2000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 9.3 million times. John also recently launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

Fitness Tracker Apps Ranked

Time recently ranked the various Fitness trackers. I can never resist a list, so I thought I’d share their list. They offer some more commentary on their list, but I think the totality of the list itself is the most interesting thing. Look how many fitness tracker options there are out there.

26. Polar Electro Wearlink + Transmitter with Bluetooth

25. Under Armour Armour39

24. Sigma Sport R1

23. Scosche Rhythm

22. Adidas Pacer Bundle

21. Polar Electro H7

20. Polar Electro H6

19. Polar Electro Stride Sensor

18. Iqua Beat

17. BodyMedia FIT Link

16. Fitbit Zip

15. LifeTrak Move C300

14. SYNC Burn

13. Jawbone Up24

12. BodyMedia FIT Core

11. Striiv Play

10. Nike Fuelband

9. Nike Fuelband SE

8. Jawbone UP

7. Lark Life

6. Fitbit Flex

5. Withings Pulse

4. Misfit Wearables Shine

3. Basis B1

2. Fitbit One

1. Fitbit Force

January 21, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 5000 articles with John having written over 2000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 9.3 million times. John also recently launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

FitBit Raises $43 Million

This is great news for FitBit the company. That should be enough cash to really aggressively go after the mobile health market. Of course, with $43 million of funding and their previous $12 million third round of funding, they have no choice but to hit it out of the park now.

One advantage that FitBit has over a lot of the mobile health industry is that the FitBit is now sold in 15,000 retail locations across the US. Getting that type of distribution takes time and is a very strong asset for the company.

I’ll be interested to see where they take the technology next. One problem with being a hardware company is that your next model has to be better than your previous model. I’ll be interested to see how well they can execute their next FitBit models. Will they continue to make huge step forwards in mobile health devices or will they be just an evolution of their current product? The answer to that will determine whether FitBit is a great investment or not.

My question for you is: Does this amount of funding help to legitimize the mobile health space?

August 15, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 5000 articles with John having written over 2000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 9.3 million times. John also recently launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

FitBit API and Other Healthcare APIs

I’ve long been a big fan of APIs in technology. It’s really powerful to open up your software so that outside developers can create really cool applications on top of your software. Think where Twitter would be today if it weren’t for their API. Most of the best Twitter clients were not built by Twitter. That’s just one simple example.

With that in mind, I was interested to see how the FitBit API was doing in its development. It’s been around for a couple years, so my hope was that I’d find a mature API with some good documentation and most importantly a strong developer community around it.

It seems like Fitbit has made it really easy to sign up and start using their API. That’s a good thing. Far too many in healthcare have an API, but they put up these enormous barriers for developers to start using it. When you’re dealing with PHI, you do have to take a serious approach to access, but the intent should be to create as many of those trusted API relationships as possible.

Next, I took a look at the Fitbit API documentation. Most of you won’t want to look at the API documentation since you’re not a developer. However, if you look at this Fitbit API Explorer page, you’ll get a good view of what functions are possible with the Fitbit API. They have a set of Ruby, PHP, and .Net Client libraries which is great (Although they’re not directly developed or supported by Fitbit). I do wish they had a really good sample app that uses their API. I’ve found a great sample application is incredibly valuable to developers that want to start using that API.

Finally, I took a look at the Fitbit discussion group. I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t more activity here. It does seem that the questions in the group do get eventually answered, but I’d have like to see a bigger Fitbit presence in the forum. The most active threads are the feature requests and announcements threads which isn’t too much of a surprise. There were only 15-20 active threads in April.

All in all, it looks like Fitbit has created a pretty solid API. I could see myself using it for a future project.

I’m interested to know what other APIs you’ve found in healthcare. What other healthcare companies are putting out really good APIs? Have you used the Fitbit API? What was your experience? Is it reliable? What are the best apps in healthcare that leverage someone’s API?

April 12, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 5000 articles with John having written over 2000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 9.3 million times. John also recently launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

Fitbit Products Take Fitness to the Next Level

When I was at Best Buy yesterday, a display caught my eye. There were screens demonstrating the product, and from the check out area that I was at, I saw the sign that said, “FitBit.” I had a feeling it was something I would be interested in, so I looked it up right when I got home.

Fitbit offers several different products. I’ll start off by talking about the mobile app, since it’s free and something anyone with a smart phone can use.

The app is basically for tracking fitness and nutrition/food — so another great option for a food/exercise diary. However, it incorporates data from the Fitbit Ultra. This is cool because, using the 3D sensor, it captures data that you may not have entered yourself, so you have a more accurate view of fitness throughout the day, and sleep at night. I really like this, because sometimes it is hard to accurately input the amount of calories burned, or steps taken, into a fitness tracker, so this kind of takes the work out of it. But even if you don’t have any of the Fitbit devices, this app is still helpful. I love the look of it — the colors are vibrant and fun, and the graphics are easy to understand. Users can track their weight, food, exercise, and water, and see their progress and how far they have to go to reach a goal. Download it for iOS devices here and Android here.

On the Fitbit website, there are three devices that are available for purchase right now — the Zip wireless activity tracker, The One wireless activity and sleep tracker, and the Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale. Each of them has unique attributes and features to fit the needs of many different users.

First off, the Zip. This is the cheapest device, only costing 59.99, and probably the most simple. It’s small and comes in a variety of fun, bright colors. Below is a picture of the green model.

 

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It can be used with the mobile apps, and tracks steps, distance, and calories burned. In my opinion, it’s just a hyped-up pedometer, though I’m guessing (and hoping) it is more accurate than some pedometers I’ve used in the past. The Zip can be easily synced with the computer or apps, and helps create a good visual for goals that are been set. It’s small and can clip on to just about any clothing discreetly. Users can also earn badges or challenge friends as well.

Next is “The One.” This device looks like a USB drive. It doesn’t look quite as cool as the Zip does, in my opinion, but it does more. It costs $99.95, and on the description page, it says this device is for those that want to “turn fitness into a lifestyle.” It does everything the Zip does, as well as tracks stairs climbed, but it also has a sleep tracker. It measures and analyzes sleep cycles and offers suggestions for better sleep. I guess it will even wake you up in the morning. It also can be synced to a computer or mobile device.

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I think the thing that I like most about these devices is that it uses the user’ss personal stats (weight, height, etc.) to create an accurate depiction of calories burned. That is definitely not your every day pedometer!

Finally, Fitbit offers the Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale. I’m in the market for a new scale, and this one definitely tops my list. It’s super sleek, and comes in either white or black. At first glance, it looks like it just simply displays the users weight. It not only tracks weight, but BMI and body fat percentage. Like all other Fitbit products, the data can be synced to Fitbit.com, and graphs can be viewed there. And up to eight users can be registered to the scale — the cool part about this? The scale automatically recognizes who is using it. My dad, who loves to try and figure out how much people weigh (much to my dismay…and everyone else’s!), always jokes that the scale in my parent’s house tracks how much people weigh…I guess if he got this scale, that might actually be true – yikes!

The Wi-Fi Smart Scale isn’t cheap — it’s 129.95. However, it offers a lot of really awesome features, and if you can afford it, I think this is definitely a scale to consider.

I think Fitbit is definitely a company to watch. They have some really neat products, and I only anticipate more cool things coming from them in the future.

To purchase any of the products mentioned, visit the Fitbit store here.

December 31, 2012 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

Wearable Fitness Trackers are a Dime a Dozen, So What’s the Difference?

The answer to the question in the title is most likely, it depends.

There are all kinds of devices out there that can be worn on your wrist, worn on your key chain, or clipped to just about anything.  I found five just by looking at two websites that referenced other devices.  They are mostly in the same ballpark in terms of price; around $100-150.

Some provide websites, iPhone apps, or even games.  Some require a subscription while others include access in the original purchase price.  Some simply track movement while others also track your sleep and can help you wake up less groggy.  Below you will find a quick look at just a couple of these devices.

What might be really interesting is to get numerous different devices, and wear them all at the same time and compare the results.  A slight difference would be expected, but it would be very interesting to see how big of a difference that was.  If I had $1000 to blow I would be happy to do it, unless someone wants to send me a test model and let me do a review.

Fitbit

$100 (includes lifetime website membership)

The fitbit has been around for a while, and boasts a lot of the same features as most of these other devices.  Their biggest advantage is probably size as their 3 inch device can clip just about anywhere, so unless you spend your days walking around naked, you are set.  This is probably my favorite device based on first impressions.  The size is important, but I also like that just buying the device gives you a lifetime membership to their website which provides a little more than these other devices.  You can input your diet and monitor your calorie input versus the number you are burning.  Obviously this requires more effort on your part, but there is something about tracking your fitness that can help inspire you to do more.  It also has a sleep monitoring function which I find incredibly intriguing.

Nike+ FuelBand

$150

This is the most recent in a long line of Nike+ offerings.  Like the other Nike+ offerings it is currently only available with the iPhone, but is expected to have an Android version in the spring.  The FuelBand is worn on your wrist and uses LED’s to give you some indication of your progress.  Synching with the app through bluetooth provides more in-depth data as well as earning points towards NikeFuel, though I was not really clear as to what that gets you other than typical social media stuff.  Interestingly, they admit that the device is not super accurate, but that being high sometimes and low at other times should even it all out.

Jawbone Up

$100

There is a review on Wired.com that could best be summed up like this: “It is really cool when it works, but it doesn’t work often.”  The Up is one of the devices that also monitors sleep and is supposed to wake you up at a more ideal time.  It is worn on your wrist and looks incredibly simple.  There are only two LEDs and a plug to sync it with their iOS app (another device that is limited by Apple).  They say that it is water-resistant to sweat and showers, but should be removed for swimming.

Bodybugg

$249-498 (plus monthly subscription)

This is one of the oldest companies on the market, but also one that continues to make advancements with their devices.  That being said, they are also the most expensive on the market.  Most of their devices retail around $250 but can be found at least $70 cheaper with only minor searching.  They work with both iPhone and Android models, and they offer wristwatch type devices as well as those that can be worn on the upper arm.  With the substantially higher cost (including monthly subscription costs for their website, they clearly are not for the uncommitted, but if you are willing to foot the bill, it may be worth it.  They used to be used on The Biggest Loser, but the show has gone to their own device this season which is our last device.

The Biggest Loser® SLIMCOACH™

$130 (includes one year subscription)

Honestly, I was turned off by this device as it just seems to be another thing for this widely successful show to make money on.  They preached the value of another product for so long it is hard to understand why they developed their own, except to make money.  That being said, It appears to be a worthwhile device.  It is a little bit bigger than most of the other devices, at about the size of an mp3 player, and clips on to your clothes like many others.  The website appears to be the key to this system with the ability to set goals for yourself and see how you are doing throughout the day.  From what I saw on the show you also have the ability to have your trainer input feedback to help you achieve your long-term goals.  The price is right inline with most of the devices, and it is hard to argue with their success in weight loss, but the whole thing just rubs me the wrong way.

These types of devices are going to become even more prevalent, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see smartphones embedding these programs since most of them already have accelerometers anyway, and people almost never leave their phone.  For some people monitoring their activity will do them no good, but for others, it may provide the motivation they need to succeed.

What other devices have you heard of or used that were effective?  I would love to hear about your experience with these devices.

January 31, 2012 I Written By

Tracking Fitness and Activity on Your Smartphone


I’ve been hearing about a number of devices and smartphone apps recently that track your fitness and activity levels. Two examples are the Fitbit and DigiFit and I’m sure there are many more. The concept behind these devices is pretty simple. You wear a simple device on your pants, shirt, bra or wrist and it keeps track of your levels of activity through the day.

I read one thing that described these as a pedometer on steroids. That’s a generally fair assessment, although these devices are becoming much more advanced than a simple pedometer. For example, most pedometers try and tell you how many calories you burn. To do so, they basically take your number of steps and multiply it with an average number of calories per step. There’s no need to explain why this isn’t the most accurate of data.

Instead of this simple calorie calculation, the latest devices are using a built in accelerometer to be able to calculate movement and calorie burn more accurately. Certainly this still isn’t an exact science, but it is a really interesting set of data and more accurate than using some crazy average. It’s always bothered me when treadmills tried to tell me how many calories I’ve burned. At least this gets us a little closer to reality since it’s measuring movement on a more granular level.

These devices also have started to come with built in sleep sensors. Tracking how and when you sleep is another interesting set of data. I’m not sure we even know how valuable this data could be, but I’m happy that we’re starting to collect the data so we can’t start working on projects that will evaluate how to best use the data.

Of course, one of the real keys to these devices is that they easily sync with a website online. The ones I saw will automatically sync if you’re within 15 feet of the docking station. I assume this is using some sort of bluetooth communication, but won’t be surprised if near field communication takes off and makes this syncing of your fitness and activity data even better.

Then, the cool part is that all of your fitness and activity data is available on your iPhone or Android smartphone or on the web. For a stats junkie like me (and most people that I know) this is really cool. In fact, I think we’re just at the beginning of deploying various devices that track our health data. I can easily see us tracking blood sugar levels, cholesterol, blood pressure and many other levels. Then, the implications for healthcare become even more interesting.

March 3, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 5000 articles with John having written over 2000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 9.3 million times. John also recently launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.