Everywhere you go at CES 2017, you see new tech – that new TV announced yesterday, that innovative VR headset on the market in Q1 and heaps of fitness tech. However, Fitbit, the arguable leader in all things fitness tracking, didn’t bring any new hardware to the show. To be fair, we did see four new trackers from the company in 2016, including the Flex 2, Charge 2, Blaze and Alta. At CES 2017, Fitbit demonstrated it’s about more than just trackers: Fitbit is also powerful software and fantastic apps and programs – the real muscle behind the physical products. Here’s the list of innovations announced at the show to prove it.
Over a year ago, Fitbit acquired the FitStar app, and the company integrated it into the Fitbit app this week. FitStar is a personal trainer app that recommends workouts based on your fitness level and your prior workouts. For example, if you’re a new runner and you’ve already run 50 miles for the week, FitStar will recommend a yoga routine or stretching workout. On the other hand, if you need motivation for a lazy week, it’ll recommend something high intensity or new and exciting. Each video workout was redesigned by Fitbit and now also includes workout videos in five different languages. All good workouts should have music too, so of course Fitbit integrated a music platform called FitStar Radio.
The Fitbit app is one of the absolute best fitness tracking apps, so naturally, Fitbit needs to revamp it every so often to keep its competitive edge. This year, we get a Community tab where users can join different groups, such as a hiking group, marathon group, weight-loss group, vegetarian group and more. This is an ad-free space where users interact with each other and where you can read customized content and articles for your actual interests.
The Fitbit iOS and Android apps also have new interfaces, and the Charge 2 and Blaze trackers now include a Cardio Fitness Level assessment. Nothing is more motivating than seeing your resting heart rate next to a professional athlete’s in your height, gender and age range. The new Blaze tracker is also getting a firmware update the week after CES, and it is available to all current and future Blaze owners.
According to Fitbit, it doesn’t want you to just set goals, it wants you to achieve them. To do so, the company revamped the goal setting chapter of the app. Instead of choosing between “I want to lose weight” and “I want to take 10,000 steps a day,” you now see tailored questions like “What’s important to you?” The survey asks if you want to improve your sleep, increase the intensity of your workouts or eat a heathier diet. It then asks why that goal is important to you, which is a great reminder in case you need a driving factor other than a filler for your New Year’s resolution. Benefit-driven goal setting helps you actually achieve what you set out to do.
At CES 2017, Fitbit also announced a collaboration with UnitedHealthcare for a wellness program to improve employee health and lower the cost of insurance. Special edition Charge 2s arrive in Q1 of 2017 and allow program participants to track metrics for F.I.T. goals (frequency, intensity and tenacity) on the device. Fitbit’s research shows that people who take 8,000 steps or more a day have low annual medical costs of about $3,000, whereas those who only take 2,000 steps a day have annual costs closer to $10,000 a year. With insurance premiums increasing every year, it’s nice to see a company like Fitbit try to fix the problem at the source.