Getting fit is a big deal, and technology can help. It won’t do all the work for you, but it can assist, turning everything into a game, and even integrating in your life so that it’s as useful as your home.
If you’ve been a bit late or relaxed in getting that 2014 “get in better shape” resolution off to a start, consider this: 2015 is only a stone’s throw away, and so too is the beach season, meaning it’s just about time to make good on that promise and do something about that weight of yours.
But if you’re anything like us and are having trouble getting into the swing of things — and we’re not saints here — it might be time to take advantage of some technology.
Fitbit has been doing this longer than a lot of companies, and this year have a few new models made for the wrists of people who want that extra motivation to go out and shed a few kilograms, as well as an option or two for those of you already doing this and taking it seriously.
The new models join staples already on shelves that will sit there for a while longer, we’re told, with the low-end step tracker Fitbit Zip for $79.95, Fitbit One waist-level tracker for $129.95, Fitbit Flex wireless activity band for $129.95, and Fitbit Aria scale for $169.95, and while those models jump around form factor and position on where you use them, the 2014 models are all for your wrist.
Yes, as the wearables market heats up, so too does Fitbit’s entries, with the Fitbit Charge, Charge HR, and Surge joining the line-up (below).
We’ll start with that first one because that isn’t just the first in the list, but the only one that will be available in Australia this year, with the other two joining our market early next year and missing out on the holiday purchase season.
That said, it looks to offer people intrigued by the idea of a wearable that monitors you something to look at, and more than just the five lights of progress Fitbit has previously offered in the Flex.
Rather, the Charge will be built into a band and not removable like its Flex cousin, offering step counting, calories burned, floors climbed, and distance traveled on a small OLED screen that is easy to read.
The information will be collected and shown in real-time, and the Fitbit Charge will even work with your smartphone, telling you when someone is calling with a vibration and the caller’s name or number on the screen.
Fitbit tells us it is focusing quite heavily on batter life, working for an entire week — yes, seven days — on one charge, with the overall charge time not taking much.
Also of note is the sleep tracking, because this has been a feature of Fitbit since practically the beginning, and the company has changed some things this time, with no button presses required to get you in the mode to sleep.
That’s something pretty much every other fitness band forces you to do, and in testing competing products, we’ve certainly missed out on sleep tracked nights due to just simply forgetting to do this one step.
In the new Fitbit devices, though, it will work out when you’re sleeping, tracking you accordingly and providing a more solid representation of your sleeping patterns.
If you need something that goes even more in-depth, there will be the Fitbit Charge HR, a slight deviation of the Charge that won’t be on store shelves until early next year, but will bring all the features of the Charge and throw in a heart rate monitor as well.
This feature looks to work in a similar capacity to the green light optical heart rate tracking of the Samsung Galaxy S5, but will be working all the time, rather than just when you switch it on.
As a result of this constant heart rate analysis, the battery life of the Fitbit Charge HR will drop to five days of constant use before needing a charge, but will provide an even more complete analysis of your health.
Finally, there will be the Surge, a product with more sensor technology relying on eight sensors, with three axis accelerometers, a gyroscope, compass, light sensor, altimeter, heart rate tracker, and even a GPS.
The Fitbit Surge also looks to be the company’s first fitness wearable designed more like a watch, offering multiple faces for people who want a fashionable watch, but bringing a monochromatic touchscreen to the table with just enough technology to keep it interactive and friendly, while also providing almost a week’s worth of battery life provided the GPS isn’t used all the time.
If it is and you’re going for a run, Fitbit tells us there will be around five hours of battery life, with information collaborated on steps, calories, distance, heart rate, and a map made of everything you’re doing.
We’re also told that the straps and wrist bands have been considered completely in this generation, with dermatologists consulted to make a wearable that won’t irritate the skin of anyone wearing the products.
Assisting the technology is the app, which Fitbit has improved so that people with friends online will be able to compete more, turning the idea of exercising alone into something more akin to that of a game, a process many know as “gamification.”
“Our mission has always been to deliver innovation through exceptional, wearable design in a way that empowers consumers with greater knowledge of their overall health,” said James Park, Fitbit’s CEO and Co-founder.
“That being said, we understand that everyone’s approach to fitness is different. With the addition of these new products, Fitbit offers the widest variety of trackers—at affordable prices across all mobile platforms—ensuring that everyone can find the right fit for their lifestyle and their goals.”
Pricing for the new Fitbit products ranges from $149.95 to $299.95, but the only newbie reaching our shelves this year will be the Fitbit Charge, which will come with a recommended retail price of $149.95.
Fitbit’s two other products — the Fitbit Charge HR and Fitbit Surge — will see store shelves in early 2015, coming in for prices of $179.95 and $299.95 respectively.