Lauren Goode

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DailyBurn CEO: Fitness-Tracking Devices Aren’t Gimmicks, but They’re Close

Health-and-fitness-tracking devices have become all the rage lately. But one fitness-tech CEO dares to say many of them aren’t much more than glorified accelerometers, adding a note of skepticism to the excitement surrounding these gadgets.

Andy Smith, CEO of IAC-owned DailyBurn, says that the benefit of fitness-tracking tools goes away after the first few weeks, and users ultimately fall into the same activity — or inactivity — patterns as before.

“They do help a small subset of people,” Smith said. “You find that there are type-A personalities that like to track everything, and that’s great. For others, it might give them a little jump start. But the value proposition of those devices after the first few weeks goes way down.”

DailyBurn is a fitness-data-tracking company that is now focusing on fitness content. The company pivoted partly because data-tracking wasn’t all that effective, Smith said.

Last week, Nike introduced a $150 lightweight wristband with a tri-axis accelerometer for gauging activity levels; earlier this week, Fitbit — maker of the popular Fitbit device — announced that it had raised $12 million in Series C funding to continue making fitness products.

Nike’s FuelBand just became available for preorder, so it’s too early to tell how enthusiastic consumers are about that particular device. And while it’s unclear how many Fitbit units have sold since it hit the market in 2009, the newer Fitbit Ultra is listed as one of the top 50 products in the health-and-fitness section on Amazon.com.

Another wearable fitness device, the Jawbone UP, is currently in production limbo as the company deals with technical and hardware issues, but the wristband was initially received with excitement from some consumers.

“I feel like these are not quite a gimmick, but are close to it,” Smith told AllThingsD. “You get people to spend $100 to $150 bucks on something that’s just a glorified accelerometer — which, by the way, you have in your phone, too.”

“I think people know when they’re not active,” Smith added. “They know if they didn’t move around enough today. I don’t buy it.”

Smith’s opinion is informed by the fact that DailyBurn used to be more data-oriented, but has since shifted its strategy become more content-focused, he said.

DailyBurn first launched in 2008 under the name Gyminee. Back then, the company was tailored more toward fitness data tracking and the sharing of data through social networks to help users meet their weight loss goals.

In May 2010, the company was acquired by IAC. At the time, the company claimed 500,000 members; Smith said it has around two million users now.

Following the acquisition, DailyBurn introduced the DailyBurn Tracker app, as well as food-tracking app Meal Snap, an attempt to spur weight loss motivation by giving caloric estimates based on photos of food.

Ultimately, Smith said, constant tracking isn’t necessarily the best way to facilitate that.

With DailyBurn’s newest fitness product — a personalized Web video program that streams over smartphones and the iPad to users’ TV sets — the company is focused on getting people to exercise four to six times a week, for 30 minutes a day, at a good level of intensity. It’s not something you buy that’s a quick fix, Smith said.

Readers, what are your thoughts? Are health-and-fitness tracking devices useful or useless?


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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus