Small steps. Big impact.

THE FITBIT BLOG

Finally! Wireless Sync (beta) on Android!

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We’re excited to announce that wireless syncing with Android has arrived! Our free Fitbit App for Android now syncs your Fitbit One and Zip stats directly to the Samsung Galaxy SIII and Note II. With our app, you can sync your stats wirelessly (beta) and see how you are tracking against your daily goals, with friends, and against historic averages. You can download the app from Google Play today!

Android dashboard

Android dashboard

We know how important it is for our customers to get real-time access to their stats. Those who’ve been able to take advantage of wireless background syncing already have been telling us how they’ve worked to get their extra steps in after receiving notifications that they’re close to their goal, or how they find motivation from the instant feedback right on their Dashboard. We are very excited to bring this feature to our Android users!

We began working on the wireless sync for Android and iOS at around the same time. It took us much longer to get this working on Android phones than it did with iOS, and we appreciate our Android users’ patience in the meantime. We know many of you may be curious about the development of this feature, and we’d like to share some insight into some of the challenges we’ve encountered and what they’ve taught us in the process.

  1. Currently, the Android OS does not provide apps with access to the Bluetooth 4.0 chips in newer phones. To work around this, some phones instead have custom software that provides access to Bluetooth 4.0. Since this software is different for each phone, our team has worked on developing a solution for each phone independently.
  2. Fitbit is among the first to try and use the Bluetooth 4.0 in Android phones, and part of being the first means we got to help find and document any problems with the software. We also spent quite a bit of time piecing together how the software works, since it previously hadn’t been well-documented. For many of the problems we encountered, we were able to create our own work-arounds. For others, we coordinated with phone manufacturers and carriers to get more permanent fixes in place.
  3. For phones we have yet to introduce syncing capabilities with, we’re working with phone manufacturers to see which phones will allow our app to work with their Bluetooth 4.0 capabilities. This process involves us individually checking each model of phone. There may be better support for third-party apps to access Bluetooth in the future, and once this is available we will be able to easily support all phones with this update.

We’ve been working hard to improve the wireless sync experience, but the feature is still in beta. Syncing your stats will typically take about 30 seconds. In some cases, especially where there are issues with network connection, it may take longer. We’re working hard to provide the best user experience possible, so improved syncing speed is just one thing you can look forward to seeing in future updates of our Android app.

Fitbit is dedicated to making connected devices that fit seamlessly into your everyday life, and we fully believe that incorporating Android phones in all of our future efforts is a huge part of that. We truly appreciate our Android users’ patience as we continue to work on supporting additional mobile devices. We’re closely collaborating with phone carriers and handset manufacturers to try to support more phones. There’s a number of phones we’re actively working on, but we don’t yet have an ETA on when we might be able to release updates to include them. For now, you can see a list of all of the supported devices here. If your device is not on that list, we encourage you to contact your phone carrier to ask that they work to build out further Bluetooth support. Your feedback could help us speed this process along!

Happy syncing and logging — wherever you go!

–The Fitbit team

Let the Fitbit Aria Get You Where You Want to Be

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We’re excited to let you be among the first to learn about our newest product — the Fitbit Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale.  Aria will accurately track your weight, % body fat, and BMI over time and sync your weight data to your Fitbit.com account through your wireless network.  Online charts and graphs will track your weight and body composition over time to help you understand exactly what’s happening to cause any bumps in the road.

The Aria was inspired by you, our customers.  Many of you asked for an easier way to track weight.  We did just that and more.   Because the Aria syncs through your Wi-Fi, your data is automatically sync’d (no more numbers to input).   You can invite up to 7 other household members to create their own accounts with the scale, but only you will be able to see your measurements, even with those in your household.   And the scale is smart enough to recognize who you are just by stepping on it, so no need to worry about your information ending up in the wrong place.

Because the Aria is a Fitbit device, it’s integrated with all our online tools to create a complete weight management system.  Use Fitbit’s Food Plan and set your calorie targets; by logging food, you can plan and manage your calorie consumption throughout the day.  You can earn new badges as you work towards your weight goals, or share your information with friends and family to find the support you need.

Be among the first — and pre-order to reserve your Aria which will ship in in late April for $129.95.  Your credit card will not be charged until it ships.  Or click here to learn more about Aria.

Introducing the Fitbit Ultra. Now Track Stairs, and More!

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Our goal at Fitbit has always been to provide you with the most useful tools to meet and manage a healthy lifestyle, and it is with this vision in mind that we’ve released the new Fitbit Ultra.

The Fitbit Ultra comes with many new features, as well as everything that had already been included with the Fitbit Classic. It now contains an altimeter that shows how many floors you’ve climbed each day.  Stair climbing is one of the most efficient exercises that can be done, burning around four times as many calories as simply walking. With new online features comparing your floors climbed to different landmarks, we hope you find the motivation to take the stairs. Other new features offer encouraging messages when you pick up your Fitbit Tracker, allow you to add more personal touches to your Fitbit Ultra, and provide you with a clock and stopwatch to keep track of your exercises with even more information.

At the end of the day, it’s not about being filled with fancy gadgets just because they’re new. It’s about providing you with easy to use, fun, effective tools to directly fit your needs and provide you with motivation to keep going — whether you’re taking a walk rather than driving, taking the stairs rather than the elevator, or just getting out and moving. It’s about reaching your goals in the most efficient and fun way possible. And it’s about becoming as healthy as you want to be.

Here’s to happy stepping, and climbing!

Introducing… Food Goal!

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Food Goal Goal Zone

Fitbit is happy to announce a new, flexible way to set and maintain weight goals! Here at Fitbit, our mission is to provide you with tools that encourage a healthy lifestyle. With Food Goal, you’re given a suggested calorie “goal zone” where you’re shown a range of calories you can eat throughout the day to still meet your weight goals.

Something you might not have seen before is the way your Fitbit Food Goal dynamically adjusts itself based on your day’s activities. Your calorie count goal for the day will go up as you exercise, and now you can actually see how exercising and your diet go together to help you meet your weight goals. Going for a walk during your morning break could now mean an extra cookie at the end of the day, or a morning run could mean getting to splurge a little for dinner.

Food Goal offers four different intensities as well: Easier, Medium, Kinda Hard, and Harder. Each intensity varies in how many pounds you might expect to lose per week to meet your goal by a certain date. So whether you’d like to lose two pounds a week, or see when you might realistically be able to meet your weight goal, you can pick the intensity that works best for you.

You can start using Food Goal today by logging in to your Fitbit account and going to your “Log” tab. Once you’ve started, find some encouragement on our Facebook page or email us your success stories at welovefitbit@fitbit.com.

Data Export added to Fitbit Premium

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Have you ever wanted to get your hands on your Fitbit raw data?  Create your own fancy charts in Excel?  Keep a copy on your hard drive, just for safe keeping?  Or maybe print out your sleep numbers and hang them on the fridge?

Well, we just added Data Export to Fitbit Premium.  With Data Export you can download Body, Food, Activity and Sleep Data.  All the information you download is daily summary data (ie. total steps for a day, not steps per minute or hour.)

Here is what you get!

  • Body Data includes your Daily Weight, BMI and Fat.
  • Food Data includes your Daily Calorie Count.
  • Activity Data includes Calories Burned, Steps, Distance, Minutes Sedentary, Minutes Lightly Active, Minutes Fairly Active, Minutes Very Active, Activity Calories and Active Score.
  • Sleep Data includes Minutes asleep, Minutes Awake, Number of Awakenings and Time in Bed.
Getting your hands on the data opens up a whole new world of analysis and insight.  Find something interesting or a new way to look at Fitbit data?  Share it with the Fitbit Community.  Happy data explorations!

The Fitbit Public API has arrived.

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Fitbit is more than just a gadget – it’s a platform for wellness and awareness. Tracking steps, activities, food, sleep and a whole range of attributes about your life allows insights into how you can change your life and improve your well-being.  But so far you’ve been limited to using Fitbit’s website for what you can do with that data.  Well today all that changes.

Developers, start your engines.

The Fitbit Public API gives developers the ability to pull and push data into the Fitbit platform, extending what users can do with their Fitbit data. This is an early BETA release, so expect there to be some bumps in the road. We look forward to working closely with developers as we improve the service and help you create applications that improve people’s lives.

To get started with the API and to learn more about its current capabilities, head over to dev.fitbit.com or join us on the Fitbit API Developer Group.  We’re excited to see what you dream up.

What does this mean if you don’t write code?

A wider selection of awesome ways to engage with wellness in your life!  By having a Public API, developers can create a whole universe of cool applications and services.  What kind of stuff?  Well hard to say, but we’re hoping to see things like visualization tools, cool logging services and ways to import data from other sources into Fitibt.

A sparkling new mobile version of the Fitbit website.

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My name is Tim. I’m the (relatively) new VP of Interactive here at Fitbit.  I am responsible for the website, mobile products and APIs.  (APIs allow other people to develop products that connect to Fitbit, in case you didn’t know).

So to start this year off right, we proudly announce the Fitbit Mobile Website.  What is it?  A version of the Fitbit website that is designed just for the browsers on mobile phones.  It doesn’t include everything we do on the regular website, but instead offers priority features you’ll want to access while away from you computer.   Things such as… food logging, activity tracking, weight logging and top summary stats.  You can access the new mobile website by pointing your phone’s web browser at m.fitbit.com.  To be clear, this isn’t an iPhone application that you get from the app store or Android application.  However, you can use the Mobile Website from either of these devices.  And yes.  It’s free.

The Mobile Website is a step in the right direction to make the mobile Fitbit experience even better, but it has it’s limitations.  For instance, you can check your step count using the Mobile Website, but it will only show from your most recent sync with the base station.  So if you are out and about all day and check the mobile site, your stats will be lower than what’s on your Fitbit.  Also, you do need an Internet connection to access the Mobile Website.

There are also some key features missing from the Mobile Website that we hope to add in.  These include:

  • Logging water consumption
  • Allowing you to log saved meals (not creating a meal – you’ll need to do that on the website)
  • Manually entering calories for activities, like you can do on the site
  • Creating a custom food
  • And maybe some more sleep stats

And we’re just getting started.  Native mobile apps are still coming – expect the iPhone app and then an Android app after that.

And what about APIs?  You can expect to see some initial APIs from us soon.  Stay tuned.  Closely tuned.

New Feature: Share your Fitbit Data with Google Health

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We’re excited to announce that you can now share your Fitbit data on Google Health!

To link your Fitbit and Google Health accounts or Learn More, visit the Fitbit Share Page.  Along with our Twitter, Facebook and WordPress integrations, you’ll see that there’s now an option to share your data with Google Health.

You can read more about Google Health and their update in this recent Google Blog post.

Shipping Update

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Hi Everyone,

I’ve been holding off on this update until I’ve gotten solid confirmation from our manufacturer. Here’s the update everyone has been waiting for. Fitbits will begin shipping from our manufacturer during the week of July 27th to our warehouse in northern California (about an hour drive from our office). We are shipping everything via Fedex Priority Air to get it to our warehouse as quickly as possible. The moment the shipment touches our warehouse, we plan on turning as many as we can around the the same day and shipping them out to you.

Have a lot of you been waiting a long time? Yes and I’m really sorry. However, we’ve worked closely with our manufacturer to come up with this final schedule and they (and we) are confident we can can hit it.

So what is happening between now and then:

Currently, there are 22+ plastic and metal pieces and 100+ electronic components that make up the Fitbit. Here’s renderings/outlines of some of the plastic and metal pieces:

Some parts

I really hate the metal pieces in the 3rd row / 2nd column 3rd row and the 1st row / 4th column. Those are our charging contacts. If you remember, we had charging reliability problems in our early prototypes and it took forever to get those contacts right.

Each of the plastic parts needs a mold created for it. A mold is essentially a large piece of steel that has a cavity carved into it. The cavity is the shape of the part that you need to make. This piece of steel can weigh 100+ lbs. Designing the mold and cutting the steel is a slow process. It can take 5-8 weeks to cut and polish the mold. Once the mold is created, it’s placed into an injection molding machine. During the injection molding process, melted plastic is injected into the mold at high pressure and the end of the process, the plastic part is formed inside the mold and ejected out.

Here’s a tool /mold. Note the complexity of the mold and all the pins sticking out. Those pins are used to “eject” the plastic part out of the mold.

Tooling / molds

Actual injection molding machine and video of injection molding process:

Injenction molding machine

For us, mold creation began a while back and the last molds will be finished by mid-June. There are a lot of parts and therefore a lot of molds. Once the molds are created, we do a production run, where the full quantity of parts will be produced. For each run, we occupy an injection molding machine and the manufacturer only has a limited number of them, so our run has be scheduled and interleaved with all of their other customers.

Also during this time, our manufacturer will be assembling our 3 circuit boards (2 go into the wearable Fitbit. 1 goes into the base station/charger). In parallel, we are designing and building test equipment to functionally test each board as it comes off the line. As each board is produced, it is placed into the test equipment where a series of tests are automatically run that measure voltages, currents, frequency, etc, to make sure that each component has been properly attached to the board and that there are no shorts or disconnects anywhere.

A key check-in date to see if we’re on track will be the week of June 29th. That is the week that we expect all parts to be completed and on-hand. For some of the parts, we’ve got our manufacturer to commit to 3 working shifts a day to meet our demand in the short time required. Once we have all parts on-hand, we will begin assembling all the pieces into Fitbits.

We do expect snaufus to occur and hopefully have padded our schedule accordingly. We’ve already have a couple incidents happen a few days ago. The big scare was that our battery supplier delivered our batteries last week, but most of them were about 1mm too long, which prevented them from fitting inside the Fitbit. We did get a few early samples from them, which were all within our requirements, but somehow the rest of the batch that were produced were not up to spec. Here’s an image I sent them detailing the problems.

Battery Feedback

The supplier is scrambling to redo all the batteries and I actually just got word from them an hour ago that the new batch of batteries will be ready by June 4th, so this won’t cause any delays.

We also had to re-tweak our wireless radio a bit recently to improve our range as we found that later sample units did not have the range as our earlier prototypes. This required us to get some additional parts, which we’re currently sourcing and I don’t think this should cause any delays, either.

This is the end of yet another long post. Please be gentle in the comments and I hope you all hang in there.

James

Fitbit production prototypes are created

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Last week, we went to Singapore to watch our manufacturer create production prototypes that they will use to uncover any remaining issues and to tweak the design before the Fitbit is sent off to mass production:

 

Observing the assembly process Looking dapper

 

Here are some pictures of the production prototypes. You can see the OLED display shining through the translucent plastic case. Ignore the temporary scotch tape :). It’s there so we can pop the case on and off easily. The case color is also a bit reddish. We could not get the right color plastic in time for these prototypes, but the final version will be charcoal grey.

 

It's alive!  Four in a row

 

So where do we go from here? Typically, products are initially designed in some kind of 3D CAD (Computer Assisted Design) tool, such as Pro-Engineer or SolidWorks. Here is the Fitbit base station as a CAD rendering:

CAD rendering of the Fitbit base station

However, you need to build physical prototypes to understand the assembly process and to uncover any problems, either functional or aesthetic, that were not apparent in the 3D file.

Here are some examples of what we uncovered:

1. Assembling the first Fitbit was long. It took our manufacturer’s engineer 30 minutes to assemble. This is obviously not acceptable for a mass volume consumer product. The engineering team then came up with design changes to the device that will greatly accelerate the assembly process. For instance, it was really difficult to stick one of the circuit boards into the case, so the mounting mechanism was redesigned slightly.

2. The button press is way too stiff. We made some design changes and also adjusted the softness of the rubber of the button.

3. The charging contact mechanism was unreliable, mainly because the contacts would bend when we tried to insert them during the assembly process. We are trying to solve this by switching from phospher bronze to beryllium copper (which is stiffer) and by increasing the contact thickness. There are also some changes to the plastic housing that resulted from this. I’m personally particularly sensitive to this issue of contact reliability because I owned a first generation Logitech Harmony universal remote that was extremely difficult to charge. It drove me crazy because if I didn’t place the remote just right on its charging cradle, the remote would reboot!

In any case, there’s nothing unusual about problems like this occuring during prototypes. There’s always a gap between theory (CAD files) and reality (the physical prototypes).

At this point, it will probably take us another week or so to fix these problems and generate a few more runs of prototypes. Once we feel comfortable with the overall design, then we will move onto the process of creating the plastic molds for the housing, which will take about 4-5 weeks.

Also, remember to check out our photos on Flickr.

Happy holidays, everyone!