In a few weeks at the Embedded Systems Conference in Silicon Valley, I'll be taking apart a device that I'm hoping can make a new person out of me. The device is called the FitBit and it retails for $99. I came across the FitBit at the Greener Gadgets Conference.
One of the conference's keynote speakers, Robert Fabricant, the CEO of frog design, spoke on the concept of "systems of perception" or devices that had the ability to imprint your future and influence your daily decisions. Technology has come very far, so much so, that it can now replicate sensory actions like touch, hearing, and sight. It's these sensory actions that make systems of perception possible. Devices built with this technology can be life-altering devices.
Fabricant dubbed the data that these devices emit as "infomatics." He then listed some examples of these systems of perception, from daily stress monitors to medical equipment like new pacemakers and record systems. It was one particular example, however, that caught my eye. It was in the field of "augmented mindfulness." It's this category that the FitBit finds itself.
The FitBit, produced by a company with the same name, is a pocket-sized, clip-shaped device that promotes itself as the ultimate fitness tool. It claims to accurately track the number calories you burn, the number of steps you take, the distance you travel and even how good a night's sleep you get. It does this using MEMS and wireless technology while capturing your motion in 3D and converting what it captures into useful information. The information is passed through a wireless basestation to a PC.
If you want to see exactly what makes the FitBit tick (and win one at the end of the presentation), attend my Live Tear Down at ESC.