Monday, 17 November 2014

Owing your Personal Data – the Key to Activity Tracking!


Personal Data
In the past few months, the market has been on the brink of saturation as far as fitness trackers and smartwatches are concerned. Every week sees a new announcement from one of the OEMs about a smartwatch, a smartband or a fitness tracker.

All these devices are aimed at doing one thing – gather raw data and churn them into useful information for the user. Yet if you even have to migrate from one of these devices to another, the process of reclaiming your data collected can be a tough journey.

Exporting from Activity Trackers

In case you own a fitness/activity tracker like Fitbit, Jawbone Nike+, Withings, etc. you would want to own all the precious data that these devices have collected over a period of time and when you make the switch, the old data should still be available.

Among them, the best exporting services is provided by Jawbone – just login to your account and export the data in CSV format by year for free. The next in line comes Fitbit – exporting is available in either of CSV or XLS formats but only if you happen to have a premium account for $ 49.99 a year. For others, you may need IFFFT recipes from the IFFFT websites, which let you export your data.

Exporting from Smartwatch

Smartwatch on the other hand collect less data and provide more “phone”-like facility like notifications, playing music, checking emails, etc. The data collected is usually synced with a smartphone. Since this means that there is a dedicated app on your smartwatch running for this, the data in theory can be extracted and archived if wished. Note that smartwatch are more power hungry devices and will not last as long as activity trackers often requiring daily recharge.

Smartphone and Health Services

The biometric data tracking does not end with wearable devices. Modern smartphones are very capable of collecting such data and then churning out the information. The three big competitors – Apple, Google and Microsoft are already in the game with integrated health services where all the data are stored in huge databases and can be exported i.e. Apple Health makes it possible to export all the data.

Microsoft on the other hand seems to be platform agnostic i.e. their recently launched smartband supports IOS, Android and Windows Phone whereas Google and Apple are more keen on supporting their platforms without compatibility across others.

The Recommendation

Going by all the choices, the Jawbone activity tracker seems the most promising – free export of all the data in CSV without any hassle. Next in line would be Fitbit with a premium account that provides the same with XLS and CSV support. As for the others, the long route of IFFFT recipe is the way out. For smartwatches, the scenario is different.

These devices do not provide stellar battery life and data tracking is limited in nature – they are more an all-rounder. However the Microsoft smartband seems a good proposition with cross platform support and data export in some form should be arriving in future.

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