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August 29th 2014 10:42 am

How would you change the Fitbit Flex?

Fitbit is one of the most well respected names in the quantified-self space, so we expected a lot of the Fitbit Flex. When we put the device in front of Terrence O’Brien, he found that it wasn’t the most feature-packed, or the flashiest, but certainly the most well-rounded device on the market. That was despite the fact that the Nike Fuelband had a better display and the Jawbone Up had a better mobile platform. One of the reasons, of course, that the Flex won out was its cheaper price, and you can rarely argue with that. What we’d like you all to do this week is to discuss what, if Fitbit came knocking on your door, you’d change.

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11 replies

#1 Longer battery life, weeks not days
#2 Work offline when not Internet connected, e.g. setting alarms
#3 Make it easier to set/unset sleep mode. Seems to be depend on orientation, doesn't work so good lying down.
#4 Improve design, band needs so be much thinner and a little more stylish
#5 Much improved data analysis and exporting including long term trend analysis.

i have to say as a long time Fitbit and Jawbone user I think the days of these devices are numbered. With the pincer like threat threat from Smartwatches of Google, Apple(?), Samsung and the likes of Garmin, Sunnto, etc all expanding their GPS devices (e.g Forerunner 15, Ambit3) to daily activity tracking their would not be a need for me to keep such a simplistic tracker.

My perfect device wold do include all of the following
1. Track steps
2. Allow runs/rides to be GPS tracked
3. Track sleep (with all sleep cycles, not just a the simple 2 stage model as used today)
4. Include vibrating alarm function (very handy)
5. Warn of inactivity
6. Has a battery that last weeks
7. Looks good
6. Excellent reporting analytics.
7. Track heart rate (optically or via chest strap)
8. Holy grail, track blood glucose
9. Incude fitness assessment tests (like Forerunenr 620) including VO2Max and resting/orthostatic heart rate tests to measure recovery/illness threat
10. Include stress tracking using HRV analysis to measure condition of central nervous system

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Yes, forgot to mention the lousy battery life. That's the main reason I was bummed to hear the Force was taken off the market.
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#1: FIX THE DAMNED CHARGING CONNECTOR. Seriously, the thing can't reliably hook up with the charger. Half the time when I tried to charge it, it failed to do so, and worse, WITH NO INDICATION IT FAILED. This is a massive fail with a mobile device.

#2: NO EXPOSED CONNECTORS. Too easy for sweat to get on and short out.

#3: DON'T MAKE ME TAKE THE UNIT APART TO CHARGE IT. This is a big part of why #1 is an issue at all.

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I can live with the dodgy connector, I can live with the 1/2-week battery life....what I really want more than anything is to be able to tell the app that I generally go to bed at x:00pm Sunday thru Thursday, and generally set the alarm for x:00am, and have it calculate the sleep cycle by using that data, combined with the bracelet's data. I do not monitor sleep at all because I forget to set it too often. It is useful and interesting data, but I'm apparently incapable... (I use the Flex and the Aria)
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I totally forget to set mine to sleep at least twice a week if not more. I am lucky enough to fall asleep in about 2 minutes but it is not lucky for me if I don't swap modes as soon as my head hits the pillow. By the time I remember to check what mode I'm in it's already morning.
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I've had my FitBit Flex for a little over a month now and have a good amount of time to develope my opinions and ideas.

First, will be things I'd like to see changed:

#1 - I'd like to see a tweak to the way you change between sleep and normal mode. It is great that it is as simple as tapping a quick 4 or 5 times to switch modes. It works almost every time depending on the angle I tap it. HOWEVER, when I am mowing my lawn or driving on very bumpy roads my flex keeps changing modes. I had to put it in my pocket while mowing and switch driving hands on certain roads in order for it to stop cycling through. Not sure how they could change that option but something different would be a little less inconvenient.

#2 - It would also be very helpful to have some type pulse monitor (I don't remember if the very short-lived Force had this or not). This would obviously cause a cost increase but the increase may be very palatable for the addition of such an important feature.

#3 - The sleep function could be done a little better. I used the Jawbone UP for a while and was very impressed with the way it tracked my sleep. Now I have a C-PAP machine because of sleep apnea so I rarely had interrupted sleep but it did a very good job telling me when I had deep sleep or just light sleep. I am not sure if the Flex does exactly the same thing but just counts "light" sleep as "restless" or if it monitors differently. If it is the same reading as the UP then I would highly recommend changing the wording on the app to say deep or light sleep instead of sleep and restless.

#4 - Far less important than that first issue and the second and third suggestions, could be the addition of vertical step/distance. I don't really do much stair work but it would be nice to know for many people that use a lot of stairs every day.

I really only have that one issue with my Flex so far. The other tgree would be nice but are not necessary for me.

Here are some of my pros:

#1 - It is very accurate in tracking my steps. I have walked through my house going into various rooms. stopping and turning all while counting my steps in my head. When I go to sync to my mobile app it is always within a step or two.

#2 - I have not had any issues charging with the charger included. I guess it would be nice to not have to remove it from the band but then you would need a much larger charging unit to accommodate the band as well thus increasing costs. So I'm not averse to taking it out of the band once a week or so.

Overall, I am very happy with how well my Flex has been tracking my steps as well as how long I am sleeping.
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Completely agree about the random vibrations setting into sleep mode....another offender: Costco shopping carts!
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I forgot about that!! LOL! Certain stores that don't have flat cement floors but have 12" tiles with grooves between then do exactly the same thing.
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  1. Let me enable/disable sleep more via the app. or via IFTTT - when i sleep, i turn off Wifi and and turn it back on when i wake up. I'd like that action to enable/disable sleep mode.
  2. Recognise the existence of India.
  3. Let me disable alarm if i'm up already with a double tap.
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It needs a Display like the FitBit Force had before it was pulled off the market. Even more important, Fitbit, do a deal with Fossil Watches and create a Fashion Watch that has the capabilities of an Activity Tracker. People spend thousands of dollers on Fashion watches with some of the most unusable features (Chronograph, Tachymeter, for Divers , Pilots, etc) for most users. Why not create a cool fashion watch that has Activity Tracker built in. They will sell like crazy. Fossil is a OEM for so many different brands of watches, Fitbit could do a deal with them and create an iconic design that would capture the market.
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I got the Fitbit Flex to use on my trip to Europe and keep track of the miles I walked.
My number one complaint is the band securing system. It is terrible, stupid beyond belief.

I have a narrow wrist and was using the small sized band. It didn't take much to dislodge the clip fastener, which was strange because it was quite difficult to push it through the band with one hand. I saved it from coming off several times before taping the clip with scotch tape everyday to protect it. The one time I forgot, it came off and $100 bucks down the drain....
Would have returned it after returning from my trip in any event and now I'm out $100 bucks!
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