Bearable wearable

I’ve always loved following tech. The emergence of the wearables market has been a fascinating one: a convergence of small form factor, low power, and high performance electronics.  In particular, this market really couldn’t have happened without the smartphone industry blazing the trail, since wearables leverage multiple technologies like touch screens, accelerometers, compasses, and wireless interfaces.

And yet, I’ve been pretty reluctant to actually buy a wearable.  I’m a late adopter.  I’m also fairly inundated with enough tech already.  So having another device to sync, charge, socially link, and generally pay attention to, wasn’t a prospect I was eager to jump into.

Along comes Fitbit 1.  As cool as this thing is, I can’t take credit for becoming a user.  It was thrust onto me.  Forsooth, it was a gift.  But such a good one!

For all the other tardy adopters out there, allow me to fill you in: Fitbit is basically a pedometer.  A really fancy one.  It’s also a watch, a silent alarm, and a general purpose fitness tracker.  In fact, they call the watch-like wearable a “tracker.”

So what about this specific product made me change my mind about the market in general?

Form factor

I like that the Fitbit line of products are smaller than the smart watches.  I like its sleekness and space-aged contour.


The Fitbit works really well since it is a social device.  You can view your friends’ progress, which naturally engenders competition.

Meaningful Metrics

Take a look at the kind of data you can glean from it:

Fitbit dashboard
Fitbit dashboard

For people like me that like to quantize as much of their lives as possible, this device is very addicting!  In particular, the sleep efficiency data is worth the price tag alone.  I’ve had sleep issues in the past, and seeing my slumber numbers in vivid detail somehow helps me cope.

Silent Alarm

Dovetailing with the above, someone like me whose sleep hygiene isn’t the best can have difficult time rousing to an alarm.  But traditional alarms, being by nature audible, have collateral consequences to our partners in bed.  My wife has had very early and tandem wakeup times, since I get up quite early for work.

But no more!  The Fitbit has a vibration motor in its tiny little body.  And affixed to my wrist is the ideal place to wake me from deep sleep.  It’s almost uncanny how transformative this has been to both my waking problems and her sleep quality in the mornings.

In fact, I’m so excited about its alarm feature, I’m half tempted to pull the trigger on this sleep experiment: Polyphasic cycles.  Well, one thing at a time.  First, 10,000 steps per day, then sleep hacking.


  1. See, I told you I wasn’t an early adopter.  Fitbit has been on the market for, what?, 2 years now?






2 responses to “Bearable wearable”

  1. Eliot Avatar

    I’m thiiiiis close to getting a Fitbit, but want to see the Apple Watch first. I’ve used my iPhone for sleep cycle alarms and it’s pretty cool, but I don’t like having my phone laying on my bed with me (which current apps require to monitor bed vibrations). I used it for a few weeks last year and enjoyed the more natural wake times. Hopefully someone will do the same with the Apple Watch and I can leave my phone docked on my nightstand and achieve the same result.

    1. Rob Avatar

      Yeah, a wearable is definitely the way to go for a morning wakeup.

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