Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Activity Tracker Crisis

The Apple Watch is all the craze into the new world of smart watches. Besides its features of being able to answer calls and read texts and stuff, it has a fitness tracker that many people will be clamoring for. Is something like that really worth its asking price?

I'm a basic watch guy. All I need it to do is tell the time. Is it that hard for someone to pull out their phone from their pocket to answer a call and read a text? I swear you'll be seeing people holding their watch to their ear to listen to their call. Might as well get rid of smartphones, and innovate for a giant screen on your wrist when people complain they can't read their texts on their watch.

Anyway, I was listening to the "Jenna and Julien Podcast" this morning and they really focused on talking about the fitness tracking aspect of the Apple Watch, then fitness trackers in general. I'll link to the podcast below.

Currently, I'm in no way shape or form caring about the calories burned or steps I have taken in a day, but I'm interested in the technology. Actually, sleep tracking is a pretty cool feature as well. I'm currently settled into the Nike FuelBand, which basically gives you Nike Fuel based on the activity you do. Though, there is no known scale as to what each activity is worth in points. The band works as an accelerometer, so as long as your arm is moving, you're earning fuel.

Then that's your problem. It's using an accelerometer to track your points. Think about it this way and Jenna on the podcast made a very clear point. What if you're on a stationary bike, grinding it out for an hour, but you've earned no Nike Fuel? Well the Nike FuelBand doesn't track what's going on in the lower part of your body. Great work, right?

I'm a numbers guy. I like earning points. Like achievements on Xbox. I love it. I love gamerscore and love getting more. I want to get more Nike Fuel for how active I am.

Though it seems Nike is phasing out of the activity tracking wearable dongles. As of late, you can't find the Nike FuelBand or their GPS watch on their store. I read an article here that says Nike laid off their team responsible for the FuelBand. They'll continue supporting their mobile applications, however, which is strange.

At this point I'm at a crossroads. The app works fine the majority of times syncing data, but once in a blue moon, you try to sync your data and it fails in certain aspects, causing future days to catch up. It's not something I want to continue dealing with.

So I'll have to leave point tracking behind and may have to experiment with something like FitBit or Microsoft Band, which I was running comparisons on. Though none have point tracking options, the FitBit (Surge edition) and Microsoft Band have very similar features, tracking steps taken, calories burned, GPS tracking, and the ever so "smart watchy" bluetooth connection to your phone for calls, texts, etc.

I lean towards the FitBit Surge. It's geared towards runners and has a much more running friendly look to it as a fitness band or watch. The Microsoft Band, however, looks a bit big and clunky and possibly uncomfortable while sleeping, which wouldn't be good for sleep tracking.

I'd like to try something like that, but NOT treat it like a "Smart Watch". Though it may look ridiculous to have a FitBit Surge in one wrist and a Casio watch on the other. More pondering.

Also FitBit Surge $249, Microsoft Band $199, and Apple Watch $349-$17,000. Who knows how long it will take before the next edition of these technologies are unveiled. Apple may hit one up by 2016 to improve battery life. Look, my ordinary watch has a battery life of 10 years. An Apple Watch lasts less than a day. As long as a smart watch, fitness band, etc. has a battery life of at least a week, I can deal. I'm not charging something every day.

A decision will be made, eventually.