Flex, UP, FuelBand: Data & Connectivity

The Data & Connectivity category encompasses things like being able to download your data to a spreadsheet, erase your data if you no longer want to use the device, how the data are transferred from the device and if there are proprietary connections to do so, integration with other device data, clinical validation, and more.

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These are highly constrained devices in terms of size and battery life, and a visual display is one of the first things to be sacrificed. The FuelBand gets credit here because its display is large enough to use actual (English) words. The other two rely on flashing LED’s or symbols that on their own, convey little meaning. If you take the time to memorize the different sequences of taps, lights, and flashes needed to navigate the Flex and the UP you’ll be fine. If you can then remember all of this, kudos to you! For the rest of us, flashing lights, runes, and hieroglyphs don’t provide a solid foundation for interaction.

Data quality will play a major role in the value of these devices in a healthcare setting and likely affect the potential for insurance reimbursement. As they are, each of these devices can track movement and can certainly indicate whether you’ve moved more today than yesterday, or less. None of them have clinical proof regarding their accuracy. Interestingly, the UP provides a method for calibrating the device to your individual stride – a feature of the MotionX technology inside. It’s not likely to be perfect, but this is an important step in personalizing the device and increasing its level of accuracy.

Only the Flex will automatically upload your data to Fitbit’s app and Web site. Unfortunately, both the Flex and the UP take a one point hit due to requiring proprietary connections for either charging or data transfer (the deduction occurs for this reason: what happens if you lose the specialized adapter needed to make it all work?). The FuelBand comes through because it relies on a standard USB connection for charging and data transfer, although it boasts Bluetooth transfer capability as well.

For some people, downloading their data into a spreadsheet is important. Out-of-the-box, only the UP supports this feature. Nike states their intention to provide this capability “in the future”, while the Fitbit requires an annual fee of $49.99 to upgrade to Fitbit Premium.

The range and number of consumer oriented health & wellness devices will only grow and Fitbit has taken the lead for now. Data collected by the Flex can be uploaded to Fitbit’s site. In addition, these data are integrated and presented alongside the data collected by the Fitbit Aria Wifi scale. For the moment, only the Flex can make this claim, and none of them integrate with data collected from another brand’s devices.

Onto a breakdown of Functions.

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