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Quick Fitbit Beta Test

Hi everyone,

As a lot of you are aware from the heavy comment traffic on our last post, we’re doing a quick beta test to stamp out the last few remaining bugs.

Here’s where things stand

Fitbit firmware and desktop sync software. This is the software running on the Fitbit itself and the desktop software which uploads data from your Fitbit to our website. There’s 1 nasty firmware bug remaining and a bunch of lesser ones. We’ve selected 10 people to receive hardware to help us stamp this one out.

Earlier today, I think we came up with the fix for the nasty bug. The greater number of testers will help us get some better confidence that the issue is solved, but we probably to have these units running for at least a week, since we’ve found that it can take up to a week for the bug to come up. Sometimes, it will pop up within hours, but other times it can take a while. For instance, I currently wear about 5 Fitbits simultaneously and the bug only hit hit 1 of them after 6 days of use.

Also, the Mac desktop software needs a lot more banging. There’s only a few macs in our company, so it’s not gotten the coverage that the Windows version has. And hopefully, no one finds another major issue. Anyways, we’ll be Fedex’ing Fitbits to our hardware testers on Wednesday and I will probably add 2-3 more people who own Macs to test the hardware as well.

Again, these are free units you’ll be receiving. No need to return them (unless you manage to break it in a novel way, in which case our engineers will want them back to look at it; but you’ll get another test unit) and you’ll receive your actual Fitbit later.

Fitbit website. We’re also opening the website to testers. I didn’t want to state a date before we got all our production servers up and running. Now, we’re pretty close to finishing that task and so we’ll be opening up the site to 25-50 beta testers on Thursday morning 10am PDT. I’m just going through the previous commenters in sequential order and selecting people, while also making sure there’s a good selection of Mac users in there. I’ll be emailing site testers Wed night and if I can’t find your email, I’ll post a comment. I *think* we’ll gradually add more people over the week, but I’m not sure, yet. In any, case, I know a lot of you are eager to help us out, but I think we should be all set for now based on the existing commenters. We think the site is pretty stable, aside from minor bugs and known usability issues that we are addressing, but testers will help us shake out any last minute issues.

Some people have been curious about the stated specs and how the actual hardware is performing. Battery-wise, things look pretty good…between 5-10 days depending on your usage pattern. If you compulsively turn on the display 50 times an hour all day, then it’s going to be around 5 days, otherwise, it’s closer to 10. Wireless performance looks pretty good. While we stated 25-50 feet originally, we’ve found that the device can connect at that range, but to transfer large amounts of data, like 7 days worth of minute by minute data, you actually have to be a bit closer, like 15-20 feet with clear line of sight. That said, every time I sit at my desk, it auto-connects to the base and transfers pretty much immediately. It’s pretty cool. I have a hard time trying to prevent it from auto-syncing when I sit down.

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98 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Sounds great I can’t wait for the finals to ship. I already have 2 pre-ordered. That being said if you need any help on the Mac end I am running a Mac Pro. I also run Windows 7 through boot camp so can help with any testing there if needed.

    Keep up all the great work guys!

  • This is great news James!
    Can’t wait to get my hands on mine! Still want to throw my hat into the ring for the mac beta tester. Love all my macs and I want to make sure this works! I have been talking this product up for months @ my gym, and all the trainers are eager to see how it works. I’ve lost 40 lbs without the fitbit so far, and I can not wait to see how well I do with it!!!

    Thanks for making sure it’s a stable product,

  • Apple volunteer – If you need additional beta testers for Mac, I would be happy to comment. I am a previous owner of a Bodybugg, have a MacBook Pro and work in software and technology. Looking forward to it either way,


  • Great to hear you are sooo close! Would love to be a beta tester!!
    I’ve had a pre-order since November last year and can’t wait to use the FitBit.
    Continued success to you and your team!

  • Thanks for the update James. If you need another Mac-based tester, I’d be more than happy to help out. I work at a primarily mac-based tech/creative company so we’ve got plenty of geeky people around who are interested in seeing the FitBit in action!

  • Sounds like things are moving along! Thanks for keeping us in the loop. I’m excited to get my fitbit but would rather wait a little longer and make sure it’s ready and as bug-free as possible. It’s been 11 months since I ordered, a little longer wait won’t be that difficult to handle!

  • I’m a long time Mac user and have experience beta-testing. As all of us clamor for a beta-testing opportunity I wonder, didn’t we submit our platform when we pre-ordered?

  • Great work James on communicating ongoing action clearly. I too work in the R&D Product Development field and DVT (design validation testing) work is always some of the the toughest work to be done in a design cycle. Everyone is anxious to start selling once the product looks physically ready, however it is always the engineer/lab’s job to temper enthusiasm with some doses of reality. Every (at least one that you can think of) test case needs to be completely vetted. You only get one shot at making a first impression…if your product bombs in some unpredicable way, the customer’s enthusiasm can be squashed. Given the buzz that surrounds the Fitbit, I understand your cautious approach. Keep up the good work and I know I’m looking forward to receiving my Fitbit(s).

  • That’s for the detailed update! Can’t wait to start testing the website and then using my unit when it ships. Any ETA on the shipping and what pre-orders will be filled in the first shipping, second shipping, etc?

  • I’ll be glad to help you guys test your site. I’ve been following the development of FitBit since a year and it would be cool to contribute and be part of that :)

  • Thank all of you for your hard work in getting the Fitbits fully functional before releasing them, rather than sending out a half-assed product! Is there a site where we can confirm that our order has been placed and whatnot?
    If you need any more beta testers, im available!

  • @James, you are definitely on top of things. I appreciate the update and look forward to receiving the fitbit so I can test it out! :)

    I have been wearing an Omron pedometer since around March 2007–with a few months break when I got really pregnant in the beginning of 2008–so I am so looking forward to a device that doesn’t require me to think about what I am going to wear so I can actually wear it, or answer the question, “are you a diabetic?–some think it is an insulin pump! :).

    To you and your team: Keep up the great work! To have a product at this point in less than a year, is awesome! Good for you all! :)

  • Fantastic news!! I wish I’d have been commenting all along instead of just reading everyone else’s. Even if some people are a little impatient about the fitbit it’s just because we all believe in it enough to wait for a good thing. Keep it up and add me to any of the beta work you need.

  • It’s funny i seem to be on you guys time table… i noticed the comment

    “Earlier today, I think we came up with the fix for the nasty bug.” as it’s almost 8 right now you guys are really working around the clock to get things going.

    A quick question, are you guys going to be sending emails to the people that are beta testers with the tracking number and such? and i’m assuming that all the testers for hardware will have access to the website (as it would be hard to use if we didn’t)

    I can see you guys/gals are working really hard, and congratulate you on getting closer to the release date, many people are really excited about the device (me being one of them) and it will be good to see all that hard work pay off.

  • Question on sleep of the fitbit. If I’m fortunate enough to get in a nap after little rest during the night will it think I’m restarting my day or will it add to the total day’s sleep at the bottom?

  • It’s really exciting to see y’all getting closer. Thank you so much for your updates, both to the blog itself and the comment thread.

    If you need a joint Mac/PC household for anything, I’m happy to provide one.

    I can’t wait for my FitBit! Okay, I can wait, but it’s making me antsy.

  • I’m excited for them to ship finally! I’m pretty active in the Cystic Fibrosis community, my best friend has the disease.

    I plan on using it to trend her sleeping patterns and see if different breathing treatments and/or exercise during the day and/or prior to going to sleep contributes to more sound sleeping. They expel mucus/cough throughout the night and often have poor sleeping patterns as a result which cyclically causes fatigue throughout the day and yada yada.

    If there are activities which can trigger more stable sleep patterns it sets a lot of other healthy living/quality of life improvements in motion.

    I’m also interested to see (in general) how it registers the sleep patterns of a CF patient since those “alert” times are different than a normal/healthy person and truly, how often they wake up during the night.

    I’ve got a few other friends with CF who are likely to write/blog and cause a stir over this if it proves to help them, so ya, I hope I’m near the top of the pre-order list!

  • I am so exicted.
    I currently use a Brookstone accelerometer to track what i can but it is limited.
    I have been on board for some time and look forward to getting my hands on the unit.
    If you need anyone to test in heat let me know.
    I live in Muskogee Oklahoma and manage a glass making plant.
    Lots of heat, oil and water.

    Can’t wait.


  • This is exciting news and I continue to be impressed by the transparency you’ve shown throughout the process. While I’m sure you’ve already chosen the hardware and web site tester group, I’d love to be part of both. While I workout daily and I’m fascinated to see how the FitBit records my daily activity, I’m even more interested to see how it interprets my sleep activity at night. I’m curious to see if the adapter is comfortable to wear overnight.

    Beta tester or not, I can’t wait to start using this product!

  • I can’t wait to get by fitbit, when I first found fitbit just by accident I was very excited by what you have made. I work in a very sedentary job as a public safety dispatcher and was looking for a product to help motivate me and keep me on track. Thank you for a such a wonderful product that everyone has such high hopes for. If you need anymore testers I am more than willing to volunteer. Keep up the good work.

  • I was so sad to see the pre-order link closed. I ordered one for myself, but my husband will be jealous if I don’t get one for him too, so I’m going to add myself to the notification list now to get a second one for him.

  • quick comment, so you know that I’m still here.

    I just sent the hardware testers an email with more details on the hardware beta test. We’re about 1 day behind, so we’re sending them units starting tomorrow.

    Site beta, we’re about 12 hours behind schedule, but it’s 1:30am here at the Fitbit office, so we’re calling it a night. We expect to get the beta site up by 9pm-ish tomorrow night, but we’ll open it up the following morning. The reason is if we run into problems, I want our team be freshly rested. We’ll start emailing people to join the site beta test on early Fri morning.

    We’re also thinking through how we give you all meaningful updates during an essentially silent period of beta testing. I’d like to pick up the frequency of updates.


    That’s why my wife loves wearing the Fitbit. It integrates pretty well with her wardrobe. And she actually clips it to her bra when she wears a dress that doesn’t have any obvious place to clip. It’s slim and light enough to do that.

  • Thank you for the updates. I ordered last October 2008 as soon as I heard about your product, and I check frequently for updates. My credit card changed expiration dates on my pre-order, and your team was great in solving the problem and keeping my place in line on pre-orders. I really appreciate the extra time your team is taking to get it right before shipping. I’ve been using the Nintendo DS Personal Trainer Walking while I’m waiting for the fitbit. I can’t wait to finally get my fitbit! Keep up the good work.

  • Sounds great. You might want to think about using Twitter and/or Facebook for the quick short updates (although cut and paste might work in order to update all three quick and easy).

    One of the biggest complaints i have about your competitors is the size and conveince of the product (having to worry about what your wearing in-order to include tracking is inconvient and just not cool). I’m glad that so much thought and preperation has been placed in the device and i’m sure that it’s going to pay off in the long run.

    Hang in there guys your almost there!

  • @ James
    Any info on the sleep monitoring feature? I would volunteer to test that feature against a sleep study I am undergoing in early October.

  • quick update.

    We sent our hardware to half of the beta testers yesterday and the rest should go out today.

    On the site beta test, we’ve gotten deluged with beta test offers. Thanks everyone for volunteering! We really appreciate it. However, if you’re not selected, you won’t be getting an email. Sorry, we’re not being rude, we just can’t reply to everyone. It’s not up, yet. I’ll let you know soon by tomorrow midday. I’m taking a break tonight personally.

    Someone also asked if they get a prize for finding our secret beta test URL. No, sorry. :)

    I’ll also make a comment later responding to some questions posted here on sleep tracking, timeframes, etc.

  • I believe I discovered the beta site. Your secret’s safe with me, although it wasnt that hard to find. :-)

    Question: Will site beta tests automatically synch later when the devices actually arrive or will we need to make a NEW site account to synch with the fitbit?

  • I have a question. If I wear a fitbit while operating a motor vehicle will it register each bump in the road as a step?

  • Speaking of Macs, are you guys verifying Snow Leopard (10.6) support? I’m part of the developer program and have been using it for some time. I’d be very happy to help test support. I know some USB devices behavior is a bit broken between 10.5 – 10.6. It’s very likely 10.6 will be released before you guys ship these.

  • For the ones that have found the beta site would you like a few comments on the UI? I have to say that I also enjoy the Nom Nom Nom from the cookie monster. He’s going to get fat with 1900 calories a serving…ha.

  • Great news, sounds like you are doing the right things in order to ship a solid product. Looking forward to seeing something very soon.

  • So hardware beta is underway as people have been receiving them over the past couple days. We also opened the beta site to the hardware people earlier today. We’re slightly backlogged on getting the general site beta open. I hope to contact more people tomorrow.

    Several people have mentioned OS X Snow Leopard. Yes, I’ve forgotten that its release is pretty soon. I think there were a couple people who mentioned they were running it, so we’ll look to add at least one person to the hardware beta. I hope there’s no issues since there a lot of the code that would break under a new OS is USB driver related and we didn’t write that portion.

    Our general plan is to give the beta about one and a half to 2 weeks to shake things out and gradually open the site up more and more over that time period, so you all can get something and help us out at the same time.

    Based on feedback from the current beta users, I’ll give a state of the system update later this week on where things stand from a quality point of view.

  • Also, for people who are asking about updating their order info. Sorry, we’re really behind on processing emails to orders and support. However, when you get your confirmation email, there’ll be a way to update your info, so there’s no need to worry about that.

  • There is also a lot of Mac OS X 10.4 still out there. Not sure if you were planning to support that but I still have a 10.4 machine available and I could also test on 10.6. Hope you are getting enough sleep, James! What do your 5 fitbits say about that? :-)

  • Keep up the great work. It’s reassuring to know when we finally get the FitBit it
    will be a great little product that has been tested. It would really be the pits to finally get one and have “issues”. I’m excited and eager to get mine.

  • HI ALL: Looking forward to buying and testing the fitbit. I have the intention of letting several members of my walking group using it for several days at a time. We have a software developer in our group that might provide additional insight. We have a member that has intermittent sleep disruption and he is eager to see the fit bit sleep data that might come up. Another member that I will lend my fit bit to is a frequent user of daily plate and spark people and contributes daily to their community forums. I own a restaurant and am on the move all the time but would love to see calories in/calories out from a tech perspective. I am also developing an active women’s clothing line that would have a mini pocket for the fit bit to be clipped onto. My husband is anxious to wear my fit bit around his office and construction sites (he’s an architect) to test the durability and “real world application” of the unit. I wish you a great product launch and a successful future. I will regularly post my progress on the fitbit site and on this blog.

  • Another Mac user here – really looking forward to getting my hands on the FitBit and glad to know you guys are working so hard on getting all the bugs worked out!

  • Hearing Tanisha give it rave reviews is definetly exciting to hear. I am so anxious. Glad to hear things are moving along.

  • man oh man….i NEED one soon. Seems so long ago I watch the techcrunch 50 video, or heard Jason Calacanis talk about how this one product could change the way we ALL approach exercise. I understand not wanting to put a product out there that isn’t ready, so I wait…and imagine just how this is going to help me in my quest to get health. James. I know once I have one of these in my hands, all this time waiting will be worth it.

  • @James – thanks for the updates and transparency with where you are in the process! I was glad to hear there are no worries related to updating order information. I can’t remember which cc I used and was worried it was one I had cancelled. I don’t want to lose my place in line!!!!

  • Hey guys…it’s Ryan from TC50. Glad to hear you’re getting closer. I can’t wait for my 4 fitbits.

    I saw Will at the Microsoft Healthcare conference and he showed me a preview unit…looking good.

    I am a sophisticated Mac user…..I’d be happy to be a beta tester if you are still looking for Mac Beta users.

  • Just saw your ad in the Skirt magazine I picked up downtown Charleston, SC this morning, and was overwhelmed by the idea! I have a Wii Fit but the novelty of that wore off fast. If you are looking for the average person to use this and find out how user friendly it is, then I am perfect for that. I love buying all the new gadgets, and talk to everyone I know about them. I thought they were already for sale, so I logged on to buy one, but I see that you had pre-orders and they are closed. :( Hope some come available soon!

  • Quick update

    Testers have been at it for about a week and they’ve found a reasonably small number of bugs that we’ve identified as must fixes. We’re also getting input from them on what they think are must fixes, as well.

    We’re going to release fixes for most of these by next week, maybe Tue/Wed or so.

    We’re going to let those fixes get stress tested for a wee bit longer than a week.

    Then, hopefully, we’re good to go. There’s definitely going to be some bugs at ship, but those will mainly be around usability and other improvements we should make and these are mostly on the website, which is much easier to update than the device. We are going to ship with 0 known hardware bugs.

    The good thing is that there were 2 key hard to find bugs around freezing and data corruption that we had fixed before the beta and those seem definitely resolved. No one has seen those crop up a quite a while.

    Once the firmware is good to go, we’ll spend a couple days loading up the firmware on all earlier units before ship.

    Our only gap in testing now is Snow Leopard and I’ll grab a couple people next week to test out the Mac installer on that update. Mac, otherwise, looks surprisingly ok.

    Windows 7 is a slightly mixed bag. The sync software works there. However, the installation process is not great, yet. We rely on the maker of our USB chip for drivers and they have not received Windows 7 WHQL certification for the drivers, yet. This means, currently, you have to reboot Windows 7 and disable driver signing verification first before installing our software. Then you can reboot and reactivate driver signing verification. We’re working with them to make sure this is all resolved before the retail launch of Windows 7.

    In terms of pre-orders opening up again, I can’t really say. We have a huge amount of people on our email waiting list and we’re going to offer new incoming units to them first in order. It really depends on how many of those on the wait list actually go through with a purchase.

  • Wow, looks like the finish line is clearly in sight. I cannot wait to stop using my body bugg and start using my fitbit! Thanks for all of your dedication and hard work. Seems you have developing quite a following….
    Keep up the good work. I’m so envious of all the beta testers!

  • Thanks for the update James. Like the rest, i too am dying to get mine, but getting the firmware up to snuff is key.

    I just finished upgrading my 2 Mini’s and white MB to Snow Leopard. I’m game!!
    Have iPod touch and iPhone also if that helps :)


  • I’m excited to hear things are coming along. I was hoping to get one for my wife’s birthday next month but I guess it might me a Christmas present. She just had her lap-band surgery and I know this will be a perfect companion for her success.

  • I am anxious to receive my FitBit. Thanks for being upfront about the issues. I wish more companies would be honest and more transparent with their customers.

    I plan to install on a Mac running Snow Leopard OSX. If you need any feedback I would be happy to help.

    I’d really love to see support for Linux at some point. Most companies underestimate the size of the Linux user base.


  • I know you guys have dedicated significant time on this endeavor. Great to hear about the progress! I am guessing this is somewhat like knowing your child is in their senior year and about ready to graduate! :-) You have done a great job keeping everyone up to date. I am grateful for the updates. As is everyone else who pre-ordered, I wait anxiously. It sounds like you have some great testers hard at work for you. If you need to test the sleep component, I work for a sleep diagnostics service company (we have just over 45 sleep labs in the US, currently). Please feel free to contact me if I can offer any assistance at all. I have also beta tested a couple RPGs and MMORPGs – if you find yourself in need of another tester. All that aside, keep up the great work!

  • This is so exciting! My friend and I pre-ordered 9/12/08 and are on the edge here waiting for them to ship. My old pedometer broke 4 months ago and I have been resisting getting a new one. I just keep reading the blog posts and it is all so exciting! It is a wonderful little community you guys have here. Thanks for all you do to keep us updated and trying to get them out! :-)

  • @james
    I would be happy to test with the snow leopard testing. I have it installed.

    You can see my August 19th comment that is still sitting in moderation :(
    or read my August 23 email (orders address) for more details. That to hasn’t been answered, but you have it.

    So even with the lack of response – I am looking forward to getting my fitbit – I originally ordered it on 9/23/08.

  • I’ve pre-ordered and can’t wait for my fitbit. It looks like it will do everything I want it to do. I only have one question. How does the fitbit determine when you got into bed, how long you took to fall asleep, and how many times you woke up? Since I have a sleep disorder, my doctor will want to know this information and possibly compare it to a formal sleep study.

  • hi,
    just saw you were mentioned on Sunday Morning on CBS- congratulations! I use a Mac if you need any help in that area. Good luck!

  • Since I missed the preorder, when will I be able to get them? I wish I had known about it before this. I just found out about it this morning on the TV show called Sunday Morning.

  • Ok. quick update.

    2 remaining blocking bugs on the firmware.

    1. Slight mismatch on calories that you see on the Fitbit and calories that you see on the website after a data sync after a day. We were seeing about a 100 or so calorie drift. With a recent fix that we’ve tested today, it’s drifted only 1 or 2 calories, which is not too bad. Many reasons for this, including some around power management. We try to shut off as much of the CPU as we can when you are still/inactive in order to conserve battery power and this caused some drift as we dropped calories during these power state transitions.

    2. Problems with sleep logging if your sleep starts before midnight. Easy fix. Somehow this bug got introduced recently.

    Ton of other bug fixes. Beta testers are getting this release later this week, then hopefully just a week of baking and I think we’ll be good to go.

    Have a great Labor day, everyone. We’ll still be working :)

    Full post to come later this week as well.

  • James – Thanks for giving us updates, and even during the holidays! I check daily to see how the testing is going and can’t wait until I get my emails. I was just wondering if something was being built as a community for the users within the website to add our journal items and check our activity? I just thought it would be great to connect with each other, swap ideas, and support each other as we use this amazing device!

    Counting the days until I have this in my hand!

  • I can’t wait to get my fit bit too! So excited for the shipment to get here. Glad that it will be fully tested and ready to go! Thanks for all your hard work!

  • I think I chedk this site daily and have been for months! It’s been fun to watch the develoment, even if at times it’s like watching grass grow! But I know when it does happen, I will be one very happy camper!

  • Well, it must be close, since it is now September 14th, is there any way to tell how soon I can expect to receive shipment of a pre-ordered Fitbit? When I updated my credit card inof I was assured the new order would be attached to the original so I would not lose my place in line, I have no way of knowing whether that in fact happended as it is not indicated by the emails and there are two different order numbers listed.

  • Coming up on a month since the last blog post– and a month since we were to expect shipments…. anxiously waiting for this excellent device! Any updates!

  • Are these units shipping out soon? It’s been over a week since your last post – any additional (even short) updates would be appreciated~
    We’re all just too excited waiting for these!

  • Final release candidate firmware is out to all testers this week. Half already got them last week or today. like I said before, we’re giving this 5-7 days to bake, so (fingers crossed), we’ll be shipping next week.

    Only negative is on the Mac side, as there is 1 bug for PowerPC 10.4 Macs, which prevents installation of the desktop data uploader. That should be easily fixable.

    Beta testers are also experiencing some problems related to our move to our production server facility, but that should be cleared out by tomorrow.

  • Everyone…the journey is almost complete. The firmware looks solid!

    Look for a blog post with more details in a few days (post-weekend). I’d like to make post right now, but can’t for reasons I’ll state later.

    We’ll also be releasing the beta testers from their oath of silence soon, so they can post about their experience. Press are getting final review units starting Monday, so you’ll see “first look” type reviews soon.

  • That’s great James!

    I can’t wait to get mine. I’m heading off to climb the East Face of Mt. Whitney soon, and I’d love to have a Fitbit along for the ride.


  • Any news on shipping yet? Your last post says shipping at the end of August and it is now the end of September. I’m getting a little antsy to get my FitBit!

  • AWESOME! Your hard work is paying off and the finish line is in sight. We all appreciate your dedication and commitment to ensuring a terrific product. Thank you. We’ll keep being patient, however we can’t contain our excitment.

  • Can’t wait — Can’t wait! This has been quite the journey – but well worth it! I hope you have enough FitBit’s for all of the preorders!

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