Smart fashion is reaching the masses in 2014, with mobile and electronic giants of every size getting into the game. But amidst the wearable tech zeitgeist, one player has been leading the pack since the beginning: Fitbit.
When Fitbit launched its first product in 2008, it looked a little bit like a glorified pedometer. But 67% of all full-body activity trackers purchased in 2013 were made by Fitbit. These sales, along with superior critical reviews, helped bring in $43 million in funding for the company. Fitbit has evolved into a stylish, wellness-inducing trendsetter. And their latest incarnation, the Fitbit Flex — available at Verizon Wireless stores — is no exception.
The Fitbit first came on the scene in the form of a device that clipped onto your clothing or tucked into your pocket. Users quickly came forward with complaints about how easy it was to lose: the classic death-by-washing-machine tale. Fitbit listened to the needs of its active users, transforming their tiny device into the Fitbit Flex, a stylish, lightweight band.
Fitbit gets major points as a company that listens to its users: the Flex takes all the technological notes from the Fitbit One (and its competitors' features) and smartly houses them in an easy-to-wear band that you won't lose or mistakenly run through the wash.
The best technology is one that is so seamlessly incorporated into our lifestyles that it isn't conspicuous and distracting. Even in its new incarnation as a bracelet, the Fitbit gets that part of the design right. The band is thin, comfortable, flexible and unobtrusive enough that you almost forget you're wearing it. It comes in a variety of hues like slate, black, teal and tangerine, so you won't look like you're wearing a gaudy wristband from last night's concert.
The Flex's technology is housed inside a tiny box that fits neatly into the band. This micro-design allows Fitbit's tech to be like a shape-shifter embedded in a whole variety of accessories, as we've seen with the companies budding collaboration with designer Tory Burch.
Essentially, wearing the Fitbit Flex is like wearing your superpower on your sleeve: the band aims to make you more active, eat better, sleep better, and generally rock a fit and active lifestyle. With Fitbit's accelerometer at its core, Flex tracks steps taken, activity minutes, distance traveled, and calories burned — all based on your personal profile, so your stats aren't just a guestimate against a national average.
A tracker is only going to enhance your fitness behavior if it doesn't distract from your normal routine. The Flex's killer advantage is that it provides subtle yet assertive motivation to stay on track. It does that through five small LED lights that indicate your progress on the goals you've set in the band's accompanying app. Each light glows when you've reached another 20% of your intended goal — whether it's to move more or burn more calories — nudging you toward being more active. When you reach your goal, a light show erupts on your wrist, each glowing dot blinking and the band vibrating to give you the Fitbit equivalent of a high-five.
Another compelling feature that follows the subtle design is Flex's Silent Alarm feature, which gently vibrates to wake you up after a night of measuring your sleep quality. The accompanying Flex app tells you not only how long you've slept, but also how many times you woke up in the middle of the night, helping to determine the actual quality of your sleep.
Speaking of the app, the Flex wirelessly syncs your stats to your iPhone or Android, making it a supportive fitness buddy that crunches numbers in the background. After the stats are synced, you can check out your dashboard to discover correlating trends between your behavior, lifestyle, and your body's overall health.
Thanks to its compatibility with a variety of fitness apps and the ability to measure personal trends, it's easy to incorporate small changes in your daily behavior that can make a big impact on your well-being. You can grab a Fitbit Flex at Verizon Wireless stores, home to all things innovative.
For more glimpses of how technology is shaping the future, head to homeofthefuture.gizmodo.com.
Kristina Loring is an independent radio producer, writer, and digital strategist living in San Francisco. She loves exploring the hidden design in cities and riding a bicycle away from tech epicenters toward the sea.