The advent of activity-monitoring body trackers has enabled millions of people to track their physical stats with ease, but it also added another important aspect to it, fun. The addition of gaming elements to exercise made workouts more accessible and rewarding for people in need of help to reach their fitness goals. Therefore, industry leader Fitbit just released a new motivational feature, called Adventures. By unlocking virtual sightseeing, health tips and “fun facts” along the way, the fitness tracker aims to trigger their users to go out and exercise more.
According to a press release from July 2016, Fitbit provides accurate real-time data that allows innovative study protocols to measure activity, sleep, and heart rate data over significant periods of time. One of their most popular activity features is Challenges, which lets users compare their steps with friends and families. The company says that such challenges increase the daily step count of 30 percent.
However, in May 2016 a class action lawsuit against Fitbit was filed after a new study, which accused the company's popular heart rate trackers of being "highly inaccurate". The report revealed a miscalculation up to 20 heartbeats per minute on average. In response, the company argued the study was "biased" and lacked "scientific rigor".
An earlier study by Ball State University in Indiana in February 2016 showed similar results, marking an error rate of 14 percent. "Calculating a heart rate that's off by 20 or 30 beats per minute can be dangerous - especially for people at high risk of heart disease" the report stated. Fitbit reacted to the study defending their apparatuses, saying their products "are designed to provide meaningful data to our users to help them reach their health and fitness goals, and are not intended to be scientific or medical devices".
By releasing their latest feature, Fitbit extends the workout session with a virtual journey. By offering three virtual routes - that are good for 81.000 steps in total - these challenges aim to inspire their users by rewarding them with symbolic rewards. What is important to remember is that we should not depend too much on these commercial technologies, as studies are showing the collected data could be way off. Rather let’s just enjoy the experience as it is intended, for fun.