Foundry Group Invests in Fitbit
by Brad Feld
We recently led a $9 million investment in Fitbit. Based in San Francisco, Fitbit is creating pioneering consumer products in the field of human instrumentation. Its first product is a $99 device containing a 3D motion sensor that accurately tracks your calories burned, steps taken, distance traveled, and sleep. The Fitbit tracker is smaller than a belt buckle and is easily worn on your waist, in your pocket or on undergarments. It includes a wireless base station which, when connected to your PC, uploads your data to the Fitbit web site where a user can track progress and compare results from other users. From the company’s website, users can track their activities, compare them to friends or the general population of Fitbit users and track other activity-related information (including diet).
Over the past few years, there have been a steady stream of new computer-connected products that measure various human activities. Many of these, such as glucose monitors, came from the medical device arena. Others were sports-oriented, such as heart rate and GPS distance monitors. These devices were interesting, but addressed a very specific set of human activities and measurements.
As we studied the area of human computer interaction, we developed a belief that in the future humans will increasingly instrument and measure their activities. Over the past year, we bought numerous products in a search for the best company in a market – human instrumentation – that we believe will explode over the next decade. With Fitbit, we believe we have found it.
Human instrumentation implies that we want to measure and track varies aspects of our body, health, and life. The initial Fitbit device directly measures calories burned, steps taken, distance traveled, sleep quantity, and sleep quality. This data is uploaded to the Fitbit web site which also allows the user to enter additional information, including food, activities, weight, heart rate, blood pressure, and glucose levels. All of this information is presented in multiple views – daily, weekly, monthly, average, low, and high. The Fitbit web site also contains all the expected social features such as allowing you to share your data with friends and have competitions around any of the measurements.