Pebble Pedometer is a new fitness tracking app coded by Jathusan Thiruchelvanathan that provides Pebble Watch wearers with an onboard, independent pedometer. A very simple app to use, Pedometer tracks only one category of data, the number of steps taken, and then calculates the corresponding calories burned. And, surprisingly, the exercise tracking data provided by Pebble Pedometer turns out to be quite useful and fairly accurate.
The mechanical pedometer was first envisioned by Leonardo Da Vinci as a device with military applications but did not achieve true commercial success until a “10,000 steps per day” health craze swept through Japan in the mid 1960s. Today, electronic pedometers are popular with fitness aficionados and are incorporated into a variety of watches and stand alone fitness bands. However, with the recent proliferation of personal smartphones, distance tracking via GPS has usurped the need for a traditional pedometer as it provides greatly enhanced accuracy and popular route tracking capabilities. However, for those wishing to lighten their electronic load while dashing about the countryside, the Pebble Watch Pedometer app provides a simple, reasonably accurate alternative for tracking your caloric expenditure.
To evaluate the accuracy of the Pebble Pedometer app, we went for a 1,000 step walk and every 100 steps we recorded the step count displayed on our Pebble watch. We found that Pedometer correctly tracked our movement to within 4% (+/- 4 steps per 100) of the total number of steps taken. Next, we went for an average-paced walk tracking our route via GPS with the free Nike+ Running app for iOS. The Nike+ app showed that we traveled 2.8 miles, with an average pace of 17’09” per mile and that we had burned 305 calories. In addition, we entered our GPS obtained distance travelled into the About.com Walking Calories Calculator which gave us a 223 calorie burn. Pebble Pedometer showed that we went 4251 steps and burned 193 Calories, approximately 30% less than the Nike+ app and 15% less than the About.com calculation. Although this seems like a significant disparity, from our experience with the consistency of data collected by high-end fitness bands, Pebble Pedometer’s tracking data is extremely impressive and falls well within the market acceptable range.
Now, the question is will we actually ever use the Pedometer app? Likely not. We can capture more accurate, complete, and useful data from a number of free apps available for our smartphones. Also, Pebble Pedometer doesn’t allow us to automatically sync with our favorite online health data repositories like MyFitnessPal. Nonetheless, we love Pedometer for the app that it is: simple, accurate, provides useful data, and is absolutely FREE. And, if you prefer to run or walk without your smartphone banging against the side of your thigh, this app also precludes the need for a dedicated fitness tracking band. So, in conclusion, we say well done Jathusan Thiruchelvanathan … thanks for getting the fitness ball rolling by providing one of the first truly useful exercise tracking apps for the Pebble Smartwatch.
Pebble Watch: [Company Website]
Jon is the Editor-In-Chief at Wear Guide and writes about wearable technology On Your Arm. Jon has a M.S. in Computer Science, won several intercollegiate events as a member of the UCLA Cycling Team, and is currently active on the USA Triathlon circuit which provides him the opportunity to field-test wearables under grueling conditions. Jon also writes for our sister publication Electric.guide.
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