Fitbit Attempting To Add Greater Health Indicators To Fitness Wearables

Wearables go hand in hand with daily fitness duties for many, but what if there was a way to use these devices to measure better metrics for long term health?

This, in a hard to explain a nutshell for a fitness dummy such as myself, appears to be exactly what Fitbit is attempting to pull off with their new Active Zone Minutes (AZM) feature.

Available on all Fitbit wearables, the AZM is a new form of heart metric that goes beyond general step activity to provide the user with greater acctivity targets for improved health and well-being.

According to Fitbit data scientist Aubrey Browne, understanding the data behind AZMs and improved understanding of health is key to users.

“Our cross-sectional analysis shows a clear association between the acquisition of AZMs and our users having the tools they need to improve their health. Now that the feature is available for the masses, we are excited to use this physical activity metric further in longitudinal analyses,” Brown said.

But what does that actually mean? Basically, an AZM is a measure of active minutes recommended to the user, a.k.a how long they should be doing different types of physical activity based on their current health, age. and lifestyle statistics already in use across Fitbit apps.

The science that has emerged to sit behind the AZM is interesting.

After launching AZM on wearables in back in March, over 20,000 Fitbit users data showed that the more AZM’s a user logs each week (through increased exercise and activity), the better long term health indicators a user sees. This is based on lower Resting Heart Rate (RHR) and Body Mass Index (BMI).

For dummies like me, think of it in these simplistic terms:

With the AZM feature enabled on your Fitbit wearable, and assuming you’re engaged in a certain amount of physical activity (whether that be Yoga, going for a run, dance class etc), you’ll soon be presented with a metric that can predict certain long term health indicators based on individual data.

I know, it’s all ranging into the territory of over the head mumbo jumbo for those who simply want to be a bit more active and lose a bit of weight.

But at least Fitbit are doing what they can to track what you’re currently doing from more than a purely data collection perspective and are entering into greater health tracking indication.

Fitbit Joining The COVID-19 Fight With ‘Cheaper’ New Ventilator

Last week, Fitbit announced what they’re calling the Fitbit Flow, a low-cost emergency ventilator that will be available in the United States and around the world for COVID-19 patients when there are shortages of traditional ventilators.

Current estimates show that the number of ventilators in the United States range from 60,000 to 160,000, far below the 2M confirmed cases.

Seeing an opportunity to help respond to the urgent need both now and into the future, Fitbit Flow has quickly been granted Emergency Use Authorisation by the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) for use on people in need.

Fitbit co-founder and CEO James Park says that the experience the company has with sensor development and a global supply chain made the task of producing a fit for purpose, cheaply priced ventilator a wise decision.

“We saw an opportunity to rally our expertise in advanced sensor development, manufacturing, and our global supply chain to address the critical and ongoing need for ventilators and help make a difference in the global fight against this virus”, Park said.

Specifically designed to be easy to use, it’s also hoped that the Fitbit Flow will help reduce the strain on highly specialized who are typically required to operate a commercial ventilator.

Fitbit Flow builds on standard resuscitator bags, like those used by paramedics, with sophisticated instruments, sensors, and alarms that work together to support automated compressions and patient monitoring.

During development and testing, Fitbit consulted with Oregon Health & Science University emergency medicine clinicians caring for COVID-19 patients at OHSU Hospital and worked with several other working groups on the design to meet the needs of practitioners.