Fitbit CEO: Advanced sensors and coaching coming to Fitbit trackers

Juicy new details on what Fitbit has got in store for 2016

Fitbit is winning at fitness trackers. According to the latest IDC estimates, it sold 4.7 million devices between July and September this year, beating Apple, Xiaomi and Garmin to the top spot.

Even the Charge HR, Wareable's recommendation, isn't perfect, though, and Fitbit's CEO and co-founder has just let slip what we can expect in 2016. Speaking to Time, James Park said that Fitbit fans can look forward to more advanced sensors such as stress and blood pressure monitoring, as well as more coaching and insights and further fashion partnerships.

Read this: The best fitness trackers you can buy

First up, the sensors. Fitbit has had a lot of success with its step and activity trackers but added HRM to the Charge HR in late 2014. What's next?

"We're definitely going to be releasing devices with advanced sensors that help people track not only more accurate metrics on what we're doing today, but additional metrics as well," said Park. "I can't talk specifically, but things people are going to be interested in in the future are blood pressure, or stress, or more stats about their athletic performance. Those are all things that we're working on and we'll continue to release over time."

That's all quite vague - and obvious - but it's good to get a sense of which direction Fitbit is heading in. Stress and recovery is something that comes up time and again, everyone from Sony to TomTom is interested in it.

Coaching and collaborations

Next, the coaching. Fitbit has a great app and community but it's fallen behind close rival Jawbone and the upstarts like Moov here in terms of making data useful to actually improving users' health and fitness.

"Up to this point it's been about gathering as much data as we can and the presentation and the visualisation of that data," Fitbit's CEO said. "Now I think a lot of that effort is going to go into making that data actionable, whether it's through coaching, insights, or guidance."

Third party apps and fashion collaborations, similar to the Tory Burch Fitbit Flex ranges, are also on the cards for 2016 and beyond.

"We're going to allow third parties in some ways to tap into the power of having an always-on device on someone's wrist," said Park.

Fitbit is already doing pretty damn well selling both beginner and mid-level trackers from the Fitbit Zip to the Fitbit Surge. We haven't seen a new device launch since early 2015 but Fitbit has done a good job of pushing out updates to keep users happy, from battery life improvements to the recent auto exercise detection update for the Charge HR and Surge.

Even if we have to wait until spring or summer 2016 for a new, advanced, stress tracking Fitbit, it's more important to get it spot on.

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  • mchiareli·

    hope they¬īll make it smaller.

  • psychia3·

    I'm loving the direction with Heart Rate and GPS that fitness trackers are taking. I really hope they work on perfecting these features while increasing battery life. Another big thing I think should be an area of focus is sleep tracking including a smart alarm. I know some people think it's a gimmick, but then there is a lot of research happening in this area and smart alarm apps are still a huge success yet people would rather not sleep with a phone under their pillow.

  • pkissel·

    After using Fitbit's Flex for a year I've decided to move away from the brand.  I consider myself pretty careful with my devices but I'm on my 3rd bracelet and 2 tracking unit (that fits inside the band).  The other day the ability to set a silent alarm stop working (this was a past problem too).  My experience with their customer support was very poor.  Reviews have noted that the HR feature in their products is hit and miss for people and doesn't perform well during workouts so I've not bother to upgrade to the Charge HR.  I had to replace my FitBit scale after a month of use.  Perhaps their zip product is the way to go for basic step counting but otherwise I can't recommend the brand from a quality/support standpoint.

    • JAttner·

      Both my wife and I have had Fitbit Flex for almost two years now.  No issues.  Great product.

      You either got a lemon or are betting against the stock. 

  • josephz2va·

    I used to use Fitbit, but I got tired of it after a while and I also broke mine. Problem mostly is the user interface and their formula to eat more off my normal dieting plan even though I don't burn as much as it's claiming I did with a deficit of -2000 (3200 burned 1200 eaten).

  • Allosunshine·

    Wish they would make our data more readily available for export.

  • matwood·

    Stop the presses!  I was one of those about to abandon FitBit.  I was frustrated with Surge durability and design thats not as elegant as others.  But then I bought the Apple Watch 2 and realized that FB has the best dashboard and tracking, bar none.  Apple's activity algorithm is confusing (who cares about active versus passive - i want all calories combined) and the visualization of major activity is kludgey.  And you need multiple apps.  I replaced it with Charge 2 - and you know what, the surge is still hanging in there for my GPS needs.  It all comes back to the dashboard.  Additionally the Charge 2- movement reminder, breathe reminder, VO2 proxy, gorgeous design - is a sign of where FB is going.