Pebble has been known for having a robust development community and having an open platform. They are now using that same culture to be open about how they will be tracking fitness and health.
Last week I wrote how Pebble’s new smartwatch lineup was a focus on health, adding better activity tracking and a heart rate sensor. Yesterday Pebble released the activity tracking algorithm they will be using on their smartwatches publicly. Nathaniel Stockham, a Ph.D. student in Neuroscience at Stanford University whose research focuses on utilizing technology in psychiatric disorders, wrote a Medium post on how the activity tracking algorithm was derived.
Stockham mentioned that significant testing and review was done to derive the algorithm published, and months of validation time was spent in collaboration between Pebble and Stanford Wearables Lab. Pebble and Stockham’s goals are that the algorithms become industry standards so that all activity tracking devices will deliver uniform results.
Overall I think this is a good idea, but in fitness device validation studies that have already been published, devices such as Fitbit and Jawbone have already been shown to be accurate. I’m not sure how having a standard algorithm would be that clinically helpful but standardization in health is almost always a good thing.
Since Stockham and Pebble are making the algorithm public, I’m surprised the validation studies they did on the actual algorithm were not published. Without having these validation studies made public, Jawbone and Fitbit remain clinically superior to use.