Fitbit, why can’t I have my data?

January 3, 2013

(This article was originally published at Simply Statistics, and syndicated at StatsBlogs.)

I have a Fitbit. I got it because I wanted to collect some data about myself and I liked the simplicity of the set-up. I also asked around and Fitbit seemed like the most “open” platform for collecting one’s own data. You have to pay $50 for a premium account, but after that, they allow you to download your data.

Or do they?

I looked into the details, asked a buddy or two, and found out that you actually can’t get the really interesting minute-by-minute data even with a premium account. You only get the daily summarized totals for steps/calories/stairs climbed. While this data is of some value, the minute-by-minute data are oh so much more interesting. I’d like to use it for personal interest, for teaching, for research, and for sharing interesting new ideas back to other Fitbit developers.

Since I’m not easily dissuaded, I tried another route. I created an application that accessed the Fitbit API. After fiddling around a bit with a few R packages, I was able to download my daily totals. But again, no minute-by-minute data. I looked into it and only Fitibit Partners have access to the intraday data. So I emailed Fitbit to ask if I could be a partner app. So far no word.

I guess it is true, if you aren’t paying for it, you are the product. But honestly, I’m just not that interested in being a product for Fitbit. So I think I’m bailing until I can download intraday data – I’m even happy to pay for it. If anybody has a suggestion of a more open self-monitoring device, I’d love to hear about it.

Please comment on the article here: Simply Statistics

Tags: , , ,