Wearable Fitness Gadgets are All the Rage

The new reigning champ is the Fitbit Flex, which tracks your calories, steps, and even how well you sleep.

fitbit flex

Photo by Scott M. Lacey

Fitness gadgets are everywhere these days—digital health startups raised a record $1.4 billion last year. The new reigning champ? The upgraded Fitbit Flex ($100, fitbit.com). A more-wearable way to track your fitness goals, this bracelet is meant to stay on 24/7 and captures calories burned, steps taken, and distance traveled. It even monitors your sleep, gently waking you with vibrations come morning and sending a “sleep score”—based on how long you were actually snoozing and how many times you woke up during the night—to your smartphone.

Fitbit CEO James Park, who studied at Harvard, says the gadget isn’t just for hard-core athletes and geeks. Rather, it’s a tool for busy people who want to make lifestyle changes. “They can squeeze in an extra walk at work or take the stairs instead of the elevator,” he says.

And yet even with the abundance of personal-fitness tech on the market now (competitors include Nike Fuelband, the Jawbone UP, and others), new Forrester research predicts that only 4 percent of U.S. adult Internet users, or about 8 million people, will purchase the devices. So who fits the profile? People who buy organic, enjoy working out, and own smartphones. Sounds like everyone we know.