FitBit, the industry leader in connected health and fitness, announced this week a seamless automatic sync with Strava, the leader in the community of runners and cyclists. This is another in a trend of new partnerships between fitness industry hardware and software data tracking capabilities. Unless you are a total tech geek about your workouts and biofeedback at a performance level rather than fitness level, this may seem to be ho-hum news, but it also may be an indicator of distinct industry changes in how we deal with our health and fitness data in all aspects.
The world of fitness technology begins with hardware devices designed to track data of many types — such as time of day, elapsed time, distance, temperature, altitude, acceleration, heart rate, footsteps, steps climbed, sleep patterns, GPS location and power. Devices vary in the type of data they are meant to track — some key brands include Garmin, TomTom, Fitbit, Striiv, Runtastic, MisFit, Jawbone and more.
From there, software allows the data to be moved from the device into usable programs and apps. Many devices rely on simple Bluetooth pairing or old-fashioned direct-connect to move the data to a mobile device or computer for expanded review. Quite a few have their own programs for reviewing data — like Garmin Connect and Fitbit.
Beyond that, the fitness and running worlds have provided the opportunity for developers to meet customer demand with literally hundreds of programs and apps for amplifying and evaluating collected data for its use in health analysis, coaching, training, motivating, social interaction, tracking, finding events and virtual competitions. There are as many diverse fitness-related apps as there are flavors in a Jelly Belly multi-bag. For example, Training Peaks can interface with over 100 devices and apps for incoming data, and Fitbit lists over 37 partner software programs that it can power.
So what’s the big deal with Fitbit and Strava?
This partnership is being touted as the first time that a two-way integration through a seamless sync is taking place. When you identify your Fitbit account or device with Strava, your Fitbit activities will automatically show on Strava, and all of your runs (and rides) tracked on Strava will automatically log to your Fitbit all-day stats. This is a solid integration of daily health tracking and specific rides or social connectivity, eliminating the need for two separate devices and accounts. And the sync works automatically — there’s no uploading or converting files. The Fitbit surge is a very wearable wrist size for a GPS and eliminates the chest band for a heart rate monitor.
This partnership looks to make it a no-brainer to consolidate, streamline and enhance an athlete’s tracking of health, performance and social connectivity — even though a Fitbit Surge is not an inexpensive item to add to the tech collection. It will be exciting to see how other hardware device and software or app providers respond to this powerful industry move to offer similar and possibly less expensive options for all of this great tracking and connectivity.