FitBit At TechCrunch 50: Launching Exercise Through Media

Watching the TechCrunch 50 conference of selected startups LIVE on my laptop as my dog swims off the dock reminds me of my dad’s theory that you can see a football game better at home than in person! For SheGeeks like me, this is comfy, democratized, internet access to a bigwig startup event of digerati sans exhaustive schmoozing, ego-dodging, and brain-groping with 1000 people in S.F. at the concourse.

Evidently, I’m not alone in my enthusiasm, as UStreamTV just announced there are 31,000 simultaneous users here with me. (prior sessions recorded here) TechCrunch 50 continues tomorrow LIVE, beginning with rich media and games, if you want to get in on the action.

Here’s a glance at the invited startups selected out of 1000 applicants, and here are the DemoPit presenters and alumni, and finally, the powerhouse line up of judges/experts lobbing Q&A on the business models with no holds barred decorum.

My quick pick for today is FitBit…a wearable wireless sensor to get people off the couch and exercising using media to monitor their activity level…

If FitBit (launched today at TechCrunch 50) can tap into new media to get sedentary kids and adults moving as a conduit for change, I’m all for it…we need all that digital mindshare and intelligence to champion change in positive ways…

I mentioned HopeLab brought a similar gizmo to our lunchtable at YPulse for idea sharing, and Me2 Universe just launched a similar concept to prompt kids to get active in order to accrue points used within their virtual world, so clearly, techie entrepreneurs are out in force to ride the productization/monetization wave of the obesity crisis.

The show and tell feedback on the screen gives you a quick scan of your personal fitness status which ostensibly should prompt cubicle dwellers and laptop toters everywhere to take a stretch and get up and move. (or risk slug bug syndrome and ‘secretary spread’)

Needless to say, behavioral modification positives sound numerous. It automatically tracks data like calories burned, steps, distance, even sleep quality and snoring. (hey, every movement counts, even tossing and turning!)

Sharp gizmo all around…a motivational interface where users can “share their progress, compare themselves against others, compete against their friends, family and co-workers,” and manually log nutrition, weight and other health information to get a snapshot of their health, goals, and achievements.

As you can see by the screenshot I took of the demo, (at left) it’s a tiny gizmo about the size of a pocket charm, so very viable all around.

FitBit for kids’ use?

Hmnn…Teens love those little stones/charms with motivational words on ‘em…maybe a cool case cover? Wee ones might need a lanyard or secure clip so they wouldn’t lose it! 😉

I’d like to know if there’s any electromagnetic field or health fallout in having a gizmo on you all day that’s ‘up close and personal.’

But if it passes muster…I’m thinking this could be a STRONG opportunity for Shaping Youth to track kids’ outcomes and measures if we partnered with their technology using our digital downloads for scalability via our ‘Gross out Games for Good Nutrition’…

Definitely on my ‘woohoo!’ one to watch list!”

The usual challenge with accelerometers tends to be blending accuracy, wearability, and price…and FitBit seems to have addressed all three:

1.) A powerful sensor unobtrusive enough to tuck in a pocket (they say it can even be clipped to a bra) is ‘on you’ all day to give a more realistic read of your overall output. (as opposed to strapping on sports gear like the Nike ipod or Nike Sport Band which doesn’t exactly go with formalwear)

2.) And accessible price-tag of a one-shot deal ($99 price w/free web access puts it in the gamer/gizmo category of viability).

3.) And the seamlessness of uploading data simply by walking by the wireless hub is sublime. (as opposed to keyboard input, data synching or fidgeting around)

Best judge’s query?

“How does it track calories/intake?”

Since there’s the same movement to lift a spoon for a bowl of ice cream as there is a bowl of salad…

FitBit reminded it’s meant as a motivational tool for those concerned with personal fitness and health as opposed to tracking conduct and behavior, so the short answer is, I suppose there could be some fudge factor…but why bother to dupe yourself?

Here’s their FitBit official write-up at TechCrunch 50. Their website went live today and in ‘pre-order’ mode. (ETA early Jan.) so I guess it might make a nice holiday IOU to start the New Year, since January tends to be the ‘fitness resolution’ timeframe…I’ll get one for Shaping Youth and report back…

p.s. fyi: EVERY single judge (4 out of 4) in this category gave it the ‘winner of the mobile devices’ session slot, which judging by these judges (!!) is no small feat.

Related Resources/TechCrunch 50 Kids

NYT: Fitness Gadget Aims To Help Users Lose Weight

Venture Beat: Youth & Culture Session Round Up

Cnet: Start Ups for Kids

NYT: TechCrunch 50 Start Ups Target Kids

AppScout: IThryv: Online Banking for Kids

(more on the whole ‘BlahGirls’ Ashton Kutcher bit tomorrow)

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Comments

  1. Amy,

    Great write-up on the FitBit and the cool factor. Our company Muve, Inc. is on the same path as FitBit. We are developing weight management products in cooperation with Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

    Our Gruve Solution is an activity-based weight management solution derived from 10+ years of obesity related research by Dr. James Levine of Mayo Clinic. We are already providing our weight management solution to employees at Best Buy, US Bank, Salo, Emerson and others.

    Our device uses similar technology, combined with active feedback and the proprietary knowledge from Mayo Clinic to make this an extremely accurate calorie burn measurement tool configured to each individual.

    What all of this really boils down to is increasing a person’s NEAT or Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. That is, all of the non-exercise movements you do throughout the day that add up to additional calorie burn.

    To learn more, check out the ABC 20/20 web site. Dr. Levine did a great interview with them and showed the outcomes from Salo.

  2. Joel, thanks for the heads up on this!!! I’ll check this out right away…appreciate the link and the article too…keep me posted on updates, ok?

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