Let’s UX: FitBit

On a shopping trip to Costco last spring, I innocently walked down the electronics aisle, unaware that this was a life changing event. Skipping the 52in, 3D TVs, I scanned the smaller, more reasonable electronics until I landed on the fitness wearables. Several brands stood in front of me but I had done my research; I wanted a FitBit.

I impulsively purchased a FitBit Charge. I was impressed by its silent alarm and sleep tracking functionality.

FitBit is mastering gamification. Everything literally is a game. I want to eat better so I can log my healthy food and not go over my calorie goal. I want to walk more to hit my personalized step goal. I go to bed earlier so that I get a smily face in the morning, announcing that I got 8+ hours of sleep. And over time I am rewarded for my efforts with brightly colors distance and goal badges. It’s literally a png on my phone screen but it makes me really happy and motivates me to go for the next goal. It sounds silly but this really works.

But FitBit can be about so much more than gamification. Today I’m going to mind dump a few of my ideas on how FitBit can be a lifesaving device.

FitBit as a Medical Alert Bracelet

What if this: Could replace this:
simple.b-cssdisabled-png.hdfb1e43d0b1a45bb7247e6d361e4d026.pack a111_stealth

I’m still working out the security and HIPPA requirements (in my head), but imagine a device that held enough personal and medical information to save your life.

Let’s say you’re on a run and experience some sudden medical trauma and lose conciousness. A passing walker calls 911 and you are rushed off to the hospital. Only thing is, you have no ID, no emergency contact information, no medical history. But, you are wearing your FitBit. Hospitals could be authorized in this situation to extract the encrypted medical information from your FitBit and save your life, contact your significant other and discover that you are in fact allergic to several drugs, or anemic, diabetic, etc. And all it would take is a nice emergency form on the FitBit site and a cable and UI at the Hospital. Just saying…this could change everything.

Next, what if my FitBit could help me get off my ass? In many ways it already does. I’m motivated to meet my step goal. But some days I spend hours on end at my desk in front of my designs and forget to get up. A quick buzz on the wrist for every hour of inactivity would be very useful. I could also use an hourly reminder to drink water. A helpful message could scroll across the screen reminding me and dehydration kills (creativity, in my case). Drink up.

What if FitBit knew my work schedule? The FitBit Charge has a great silent alarm feature. This means that at 6:20AM every weekday, my wrist is gently buzzed until I click the side button. This means my husband can sleep in for 20 more minutes while I shower instead of also being awoken by my “nature sounds” alarm clock. This means we are both happier than we would be had we been awoken by an obnoxious alarm.

The silent alarms are set on the FitBit app on your phone and must be synced to your FitBit via Bluetooth. The only thing is, Labor Day, Christmas and other week day holidays have a tendency to sneak up on you and you are awoken to a delightful surprise at 6:20AM on what could be a sleep-in morning.

But what if I could have an alarm calendar on my FitBit? Maybe there could be a holiday calendar that would import all upcoming stock market or bank or school holidays . I could add my own (work from home days and vacation) and set custom alarms in advance. This would end my sleepy realizations that my alarm is set for the wrong time or worry about missing that way too early coffee date.

Here’s my mockup of what the alarm calendar could look like:

This is just a start. My new wrist accessory has become such a integral part of my life that new ideas are inevitable.

Update (March 24, 2016):

With the announcement of Apple CareKit this week, I’m even more excited about the future of healthcare and wearables. The information gathered from FitBits could be incredible beneficial to researchers and the future of health.

Also, I just updated to Alta. And I love it…and have UX gripes and ideas already running through my mind.

The first of which; the hourly reminders.

First, let me just say that I love this feature. Not only it Fitbit attempting to keep me alive and is concerned about my longevity (according to research) but also healthy in the present with gentle movement reminders on the :50 min of every hour that I haven’t moved.

As a daily desk dweller, it can be a challenge to remember to stand, stretch and move around when I’m heads down on a project. Now I must make up an excuse every hour to get some water, run up and down the stairs or wander aimlessly until my Fitbit challenge of 200 steps is met.

But, there is a downside. I’m watching the latest action movie, so completely immersed that no thought of reality could pull me back to the present when…*buzz buzz*…what? I’m distracted, my mind returns to the reality that I’m simple sitting in a theater wasting away because I didn’t get my 200 steps that hour. This process repeats right at the movies climax. *Buzz, buzz*. Shut up wrist.

Yes, I could remove it from my wrist but neither wearable fits well in my cramped girl pants pockets and I’m more likely to leave it in my movie seat cup holder than remember to put it back on my wrist. So the buzzing continues. “Get up you lazy, slob!”, it yells. So I have an idea.

The Quiet Time switch. Simple turn on in your settings when you have to be sitting for an extended period of time; a grueling 2 hour meeting with your CEO, a Russian Opera, movie marathons, etc. You’ll just have to remember to turn it back off.

Maybe an expansion of this idea could be tied to your calendar. You could set in advance calendar events where movement is not an option. Because occasionally, no matter how hard your wrist tries to remind you, you have to take a break from being fit.