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The constraint on the Move goal is my rest days. I don’t do yoga on Tuesdays or Thursdays. Instead, I cook, usually in big enough portions that I can use the leftovers for lunch the next day. The relevant thing here is that cooking takes time; I can’t work out and cook at the same time. Without rest days, I hardly cook at all, which means I spend more money on takeout, which is generally worse for me than the foods I prepare myself.

The Apple Watch doesn’t care about any of this. Rest days are the limiting factor on my ability to hit my Move goal — while I easily hit 700 calories by the Watch’s measure on my workout days, I move a lot less when I take time off from working out. But rest days are crucial for exercise: they let your body recover. Without recovery, you don’t get the strength you’re trying to build, and you place yourself at risk for overuse injuries.

At times I remind myself of what Blahnik said: this is a minimum. You’re supposed to beat it. This reminder makes me feel worse, not better. I stop letting the Watch set my Move goal. It is too unkind to me.

The Move goal is adjustable — I can lower it at any time — but there’s no way to program the Watch to consistently honor my rest days. I just have to manually lower the goal for that day, and then raise it for the next one. Unfortunately, this requires too much of my attention. I have actual things to do that are more important than manually telling my fitness app to let me rest, so mostly I forget to do it until it’s too late. Even when I remember, I wind up with a different problem: I forget to reset the Watch to a higher Move goal the next day. I spent one week being psyched that I hit my goal only to discover that I had only hit the lowered goal.

In my case, it drives me nuts that if I’m sick for a few days that my fitness streaks go to hell. Or if I’m travelling, and I can’t move as much as normal because I’m stuck in a flying coffin for 6-16 hours I get penalized. It’s a serious failing of the current iterations of the software though, also, a failing that Apple or other companies could correct if they just invested the time and energy. Maybe they could talk to real or normal users of their technologies?

Link

How Apple and Google plan to reinvent healthcare

How Apple and Google plan to reinvent healthcare:

For many years the digital health industry has been driven by wearable devices like the Fitbit, Nike’s Fuelband, and Jawbone’s Up. But if the titans of the smartphone industry succeed in creating a dominant platform for health and fitness data, this business could be in trouble. “A lot of the basic functions we have seen in fitness wearables — tracking your steps, taking your heart rate — those functions will become basic features on a smartphone or smartwatch,” says Wang.

As someone who’s worn one of these trackers for years now [1] and who is obsessive about carrying my smartphone, I cannot disagree more. My phone does rough calculation of how much I move every month and it’s routinely off by absolutely enormous magnitudes. [2] To some extent, that’s because the phone isn’t calibrated to precisely monitor how far I walk. To a greater extent, however, it’s because while I’m obsessive about keeping my phone around me it’s actually not on my person for about 30% of my movements each day. I don’t carry my phone at night when walking the dog, or necessarily when I’m wander around the building I work in.

For people who want just casual or ambient information about movement a smartphone might be fine. But anyone who is even moderately interested in tracking their activity for health reasons isn’t going to be willing to ‘guesstimate’ 1/3 of their day’s activity. The real power of smartphones is delivering information-rich notifications or aggregating data from a variety of sensors; it’s the software that they bring, first and foremost, that is their value add. And I think that for the fitness device companies to be successful they’ll need to develop powerful data mobilization schemes – you’ll need to be able to integrate data from the fitness hardware to any smartphone OS – to really capture significant portions of the market over the longer-term. I don’t buy the idea that people will keep buying sub-par products because the data is bound within a specific operating system or mobile phone ecosystem. Though, perhaps that’s just me as someone who hops between smartphone and smartphone OSes every 12–14 months.


  1. I’ve lost a pair of Fitbits, returned another, and currently use a Jawbone UP 24. I bought my first Fitbit in April 2012.  ↩
  2. As an example, My Jawbone tracked me walking somewhere between 135–150 miles last month whereas Google suggested I walked just 30–40 miles.  ↩
Link

Keeping Fitbit safe from hackers and cheaters with FitLock

The ability to hack these devices, at the outset, seems silly: who would bother?

But as more and more organizations provide these to employees, to individuals they insure, and so forth, the desire to ‘game the system’ will increase. The problem is less along the lines of ‘you can capture this data’ – though that is a privacy concern – and more along the lines of ‘how can I beat the system reliably to advantage myself’.