My new Fitbit Zip is proving to be an amazing motivator when it comes to exercising. I now find myself going out of my way to walk a few more steps, just to see them reflected on my personal online dashboard.
What can I say? It's great to be me! And why do I say this? Well, apart from the fact that I'm dashingly handsome, a trendsetter, and a leader of fashion (it says so in the introduction to my books, so it must be true), I love gadgets and gizmos, so I'm the luckiest of lucky little rascals because people send me all sorts of goodies to peruse and ponder and play with.
For example, do you recall Microchip's recent announcement of the PIC24F 'GC' MCUs With Intelligent Analog? These little scamps boast all sorts of features that make them ideal for a wide variety of portable applications. Well, a couple of days after I'd posted that column, a Fed-Ex package from Microchip landed on my desk. When I opened this package, I discovered something called a Fitbit Zip:
To be honest, I'd never heard of the Fitbit family of wearable electronics before, but if you bounce over to the Fitbit Store, you will discover that they currently have three products:
- Fitbit Flex: Wireless Activity + Sleep Wristband
- Fitbit One: Wireless Activity + Sleep Tracker
- Fitbit Zip: Wireless Activity Tracker
Well, I must admit that I was intrigued. When I opened the Fitbit Zip package I discovered the teeny-weeny Fitbit Zip itself, which is shown here next to a quarter:
This was accompanied by a replaceable battery that is said to last anywhere from four to six months, a molded plastic clip by which you attach the Fitbit Zip to your person, the smallest wireless USB dongle I've ever seen in my life (to plug into your PC or Mac), and a strange piece of plastic whose function was a complete mystery to me.
The instructions accompanying this little rascal couldn’t be simpler. They say "To set up, go to: www.fitbit.com/zip" (in multiple languages). When you go to this site, you see three simple pictograms -- the first shows you inserting the battery; the second shows you plugging the wireless dongle into your computer, and the last shows you clicking a button (which you do actually click on the pictogram) to download and install the software driver onto your computer.
First came the battery. There is a groove in the back cover to the Fitbit Zip. I had to borrow a penny from Bob in the office next to mine to use as a sort of screwdriver in order to open the back, insert the battery, and close it up again. A few seconds after I'd done all this, I noticed another graphic on the screen showing "What's included in your Zip box" -- it turned out that the mysterious plastic "thing" was in fact the "Battery Tool" that you use to open and close the cover (give me strength!).
Next came the wireless dongle, which was followed by the software download. As soon as the software is downloaded it broadcasts a wireless message (presumably to any and all Fitbits in close proximity) telling them to display the (relatively) unique 4-digit numerical codes associated with them. Then it tells you to look at the code being displayed on your Fitbit's screen and enter that code into your computer. This way, if multiple folks in close proximity each have their own Fitbit, everyone (computers and Fitbits) knows "who is who." Also, as part of this initialization, your computer uploads the local time into your Fitbit. This provides a great illustration of just how simple the entire process is.
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