The FitBit Flex is the FitBit’s answer to the Fuelband.

Unlike its competition, it’s size-adjustable. And you can pop out the inner hardware sensor to fit it in a band of another color.

But its even bigger claim to fame is Bluetooth 4.0--a low-power standard that allows the FitBit to automatically sync with a smartphone all the time. No buttons or plugs required.

Auto syncing is a breakthrough in ease of use. It’s one of the few pieces of technology that’s capable of changing the core experience of a fitness band.

The Flex will be available this spring for $100.

You can pre-order it now.

Co.Design

The FitBit Flex Is A Fitness Band That Syncs Automatically

The FitBit Flex isn’t just another Fuelband clone; it’s the first decent competitor to really challenge how conveniently integrated fitness bands can be.

We’ve already seen the Nike+ FuelBand and the Jawbone Up, and a handful of competitive clone fitness bands are already on the market. So over the past year, it’s only grown more strange that we haven’t seen FitBit--maybe the name in fitness tracking devices--make a sporty rubber band of their own.

Well, that day has now come. The FitBit Flex is essentially a FitBit that fits on your wrist. Designed by NewDealDesign, it’s an LED-laden piece of tech that tracks steps, calories burned, and even quality of sleep along with an alarm--everything the old FitBits did--plus it syncs to iOS and Android devices over Bluetooth. But truth be told, Flex doesn’t just sound familiar, it sounds wholly unoriginal. That is, until you look a bit closer at the finer design details.

For one, the Flex doesn’t just feature Bluetooth, it features Bluetooth 4.0. This standard uses far less power than 3.0, which makes it suitable for 24/7, automatic syncing with connected devices and apps. I have little doubt that from a UX perspective, the need to physically sync will be the biggest difference between the fitness devices of last year and those five years from now. On the FuelBand, you need to hold a button to accomplish the task. On an Up, you have to physically plug the band in. But the Flex’s passive syncing is a tiny technological detail that makes fitness tracking as painless as it’s meant to be.

The band itself is also noteworthy. Notice that the electronics aren’t integrated with the band itself, meaning that while every other fitness band comes in small, medium, and large (sizes that mean nothing to most wrists), the Flex is every bit as adjustable as a watch. No doubt, this is also part of the Flex’s planned monetization model. The core electronic pebble can be inserted into other bands--colors like slate and teal--to differentiate your daily look. At the same time, there’s a functional advantage here as well: Whereas many of us need to clip the FuelBand to our shoe while biking or find other creative ways to use a wristband when a wristband just won’t get the job done, the Flex could theoretically fit inside other sport-cessories. I imagine a Flex sweatband or maybe a special, super-rugged armband for diving. Whereas most cyclists curse the FuelBand’s name, the Flex could easily embrace such a community and market.

The FitBit Flex runs $100. It’s available for pre-order now to ship in spring 2013.

Order it here.

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6 Comments

  • EM

    Why would they not include any watch functionality in a device that you'd wear on your wrist?

  • Andre Assalino

    It's worth noting that the Jawbone UP gets around the cycling limitation by having a GPS workout feature on the app, which is actually quite clever.
    It also lets you track meals and moods, which neither of these seem to do.

    Really happy with my UP 2.0 :)

  • Tony Mize

    I used a FitBit for a year - actually, a series of FitBits because I kept losing it, washing it with my pants, etc :/   You can enter food info into the iPhone app or their website, just as you can with the UP.  I'm happy with the UP as well!  But a wirelessly syncing FitBit that can't be lost is pretty much the holy grail of biometry.

  • Andre Assalino

    Also, regarding ways of syncing, I think Bluetooth 4.0 definitely makes it easier and therefore more practical to use.

    However, plugging in the band is actually kind of cool, even though you tend to do it less and less.

    New ways of syncing are also quite interesting, such as what you see on the Misfit Shine:
    http://www.misfitwearables.com...

  • Amber Weinberg

    I don't get this move from Fitbit or the product either. How's this different from the regular fitbit…and who want's to wear a bracelet 24/7?? I thought the idea of the Fuelband was dumb, which is why I went with Fitbit in the first place...since the device was tiny and discreet :/

  • Matthew Stasoff

    I think it's much simpler to wear a bracelet 24/7, rather than make sure your device is connected to you at all times.

    Plus the Fuelband is so popular, because its purpose aside, it's been marketed as a badge of honor in a way. People want to be seen wearing it, and because it can be seen, they're more inclined to make sure they're in the green zone as soon as possible. Having something that stays hidden is fun for you, and obviously you enjoy that, but Fitbit understands people want to be seen with their devices.