More Than a Step Counter

Fitbit Versa 2

I was gifted a Fitbit Versa 2 for Christmas. I’ve been needing something to track my exercises more accurately with for awhile now, and this was the Wife’s answer to my issues with my Android phone and Google fit not logging my steps correctly. I’ve been kind of obsessed with accurately tracking activity as well as heart rate and blood pressure since the angioplasty that I underwent back in May of 2019.

RAnt(hony)-ings

…I can’t imagine why that is. What I wanted was an implanted monitoring device, but I’m not going to find that tech cheap or beyond the experimental stage in the United States. In the meantime, wearables are the only way to go, and Fitbit is one of the more common activity trackers on the market. The problem starts with my not liking things tied around my wrists. I’ve never worn a watch. I thought it was because I couldn’t afford a watch, but after an in-law gifted me with a very nice wristwatch a few years back, and I still didn’t wear a watch, I knew that it was having something on my wrist that I was objecting to.

We don’t need computers to wear on our head, or wrists, or arms. We need computers that fade into the background. Forget wearable computing. It’s time for disappearable computing.

ReadWrite – Hands Off My Wrists! Why I Don’t Want To Wear My Computers– Owen Thomas
YoutubeNext-Generation Biointegrated Sensors by Profusa

Wisniewski and her colleagues solved this problem by fooling the body so it can’t recognize their sensors as foreign objects. The sensors are smaller than a grain of rice and are made of a hydrogel scaffold that’s as flexible as a contact lens. The researchers also made sure their sensor lacks any flat surfaces, which are a dead giveaway to cells that an object isn’t natural, says Wisniewski, who is at Profusa Inc. As a result, cells and capillaries grow into the sensor’s porous structure without triggering the undesirable immune response. In fact, Wisniewski is announcing today that the first sensors implanted in human volunteers are still functioning after more than four years.

American Chemical Society

There are six other companies listed in this article from Dr. Hempel Digital Health Network that are working on implantable technology, and there is a lot of projected profit in that new marketplace. But that is tomorrow. I need something to work with today.

I found several articles lining out different wearables/hideables and their functionality when I went looking online for health trackers back in June. One of them was this article from Larry Magid at the Mercury-News. He has two Fitbit’s on his list. Then there was The Best Fitness Trackers from Family Living Today. The author lines out twenty-five of the best trackers that she tested in the course of writing the article. Most of those are stand-alone trackers that don’t necessarily sync up with your phone. She has a couple of Fitbits on her list as well.

The article that caught my eye was Hideables: Best wearables and clip-ons for discreet fitness tracking from Wareable. The article there was the oldest of all of the ones I had run across, but it focused on what I was interested in if I can’t just reference my own internal head-up display to see my current health status. There was a Fitbit Zip on that article. However, the Fitbit Zip isn’t on the Fitbit website. That’s troubling. It’s also three times as much as the quoted price in the article on Amazon.com, as of this writing. More troubling. The Nokia device that is mentioned is also not at the link on Amazon or on the Nokia website.

The wife and I talked about the subject of fitness trackers a few times after I went looking for one during the summer. That was months ago. I think I was open to a fitness tracking watch in principle, the last time we spoke, but I didn’t think I had left the impression that I was seriously interested in any one device right then. She just happened to be in the warehouse shopping club a few weeks back and noticed a display for the Fitbit Versa 2 with a price point that was reasonable (less than $100) and remembering that I was looking for a fitness tracker, she bought one.

I have to say, I still don’t like things tied around my wrist. I’m doing my best to ignore that minor irritation. The Versa 2 tracks exercise pretty well. It tracks sleep patterns, and since I’m on a CPAP machine, that seems like valuable information. It records my pulse. Those are the good things. The minimum functions one should expect from a fitness tracker. It doesn’t do blood pressure but that isn’t a deal breaker. The next part might be a deal breaker.

Entering data on the Versa 2 is truly frustrating. If you are trying to do it through the watch itself, it frequently doesn’t apply the data correctly. For example, I decided I would track fluid intake as part of running the thing through its paces. If you enter 32 on the display marked oz, as in “32 ounces” the watch doesn’t add 32 ounces. It adds 1.08 oz to the total amount for the day. Entering weight from the watch adds the number you entered to the total weight that you started with. Not at all what one would intuitively expect. There are posts up for both the water issue and the weight issue in the community forum. Fingers crossed that they get a patch out soon. The work-around for these kinds of issues is to simply enter the data through the Fitbit app on your phone. Makes you wonder why you need the hardware.

Supposedly I can play music with the Fitbit Versa 2. It syncs with several subscription services, none of which are ones I pay for. What about just using a player app on the phone itself? I’ve tried swiping down to access the notifications and settings tab, which is where the music controls for the phone should be if I’m trying to play music from my phone. However, if I tap the music icon it tells me to pair with my phone if the phone is selected as the music source, or it tells me to use the mobile app to download music to the watch if the watch is the source. Never mind getting the source to switch back to the phone if you change it to the watch. Since the watch doesn’t know it is paired with a phone, it doesn’t want to change back to the phone. This is another issue that is represented on the community forum. I’m beginning to think the problem here is Fitbit itself.

On the other side of the ledger, Google doesn’t offer any Fitbit interoperability with their fitness tracking software, Google Fit. Fitbit might be the problem with Fitbit’s internal software issues, but not having the data synchronized through the Android operating system and logged in other fitness tracking software (especially Google’s own fitness software) is major impediment to using anyone’s hardware to do this job. I certainly won’t be buying Google’s watch. Pressure tactics don’t work with me if I suspect I’m being pressured. If I was vulnerable to those kinds of tactics I would have already sold my soul to Apple for the next hardware upgrade and been happy in my Apple rose gold colored hell. Google should make Fit talk to Fitbits and other fitness tracking hardware. Fitbit should make their hardware talk to Google fit. I mean, the two biggest players that aren’t Apple should be willing to work together. It profits no one if you aren’t. I shouldn’t have to utilize a third party programmer (fit to fit) in order to do this. A work-around like that is a security breach waiting to happen.

If I end up returning the Fitbit Versa 2, I’m going to have to conduct some more research looking for another device. The limited amount of looking that I went through in order to write this piece has shown me that the marketplace has completely changed in less than six months. Which is startlingly fast in hardware terms. You can’t even design devices, construct the facilities to manufacture them, and get the product to market in that time. I can’t imagine the hoops that have to be jumped through to get things to market that quickly, only to be onto something else by the time you’ve completed that project.

Author: RAnthony

I'm a freethinking, unapologetic liberal. I'm a former CAD guru with an architectural fetish. I'm a happily married father. I'm also a disabled Meniere's sufferer.

Attacks on arguments offered are appreciated and awaited. Attacks on the author will be deleted.