fitbit fitbit
oct 30, 2009

fitbit

the fitbit is small digital clip which tracks its user’s movements and actions to help manage exercise, nutrition and sleep routines. the device contains a 3d motion sensor that accurately measures movement in three dimensions. fitbit keeps track of calories burned, steps taken, distance traveled and even the user’s sleep quality. this data is recorded and made available to the user through a interactive digital interface. the device can be worn a number of ways either clipped onto clothing or attached to a wristband. the device takes its design from the humble clothes peg and features a small OLED display on its front, which can display some details directly to the user. the device syncs with a wireless base station that incrementally uploads the data in the background. the device was designed by newdealdesign, a studio with experience in the digital product design field. designboom interviewed newdealdesign’s founder and principal designer gadi amit to reveal some of the design thinking that went into the fitbit.

http://www.fitbit.com http://newdealdesign.com

what aspects of the fitbit design was newdealdesign involved in? newdealdesign was involved with the initial ‘look and feel’ of the website, initial ideas about the brand identity design, user-interface, including icons and fonts to be used on the OLED display as well as all the industrial design and packaging design. we even brought in the engineering and manufacturer to provide fitbit with complete end-to-end solution.

how did you approach the design of the fitbit? initially we worked on a more ‘non-techy’ feel for the whole company. we wanted something that has no gadget feel. we illustrated web-sites and brand identity that was geared towards urban women and was emotional in approach instead of beneficial or technical in approach.

our process combined a lot of layout of configuration study at the beginning. we had the intention to make the product into a digital jewelry that will fit urban women in their daily life. since half of our designers are women, much of the discussion went into ‘where do I place it when I ran, or when I go to bed, or go out for a dinner?’. it was quite a discussion since we experimented with forms that fit bras in certain locations as well as shorts, dresses and more. the male designers where quite intrigued.

this experimentation led to the clothes-peg for and that led to complete rework of the electronics into two nodes. this was the main discovery that drove the design. details followed, including the notion of seamless front, where the display is hidden behind a frosted, rubberized cover. that led to the OLED user-interface since that type of screen generate much light intensity and allows us to project the icons from behind. GUI development was needed since the low-cost component we found had no GUI support. that’s very much the process.

how did you approach designing a product with no real precedent? we approached this project like many of our other projects. being a new type of object requires the same cultural groundings and the same savvy approach to technology we use routinely. we always try to frame the object as a tool for regular people. with that in mind, we must think about the daily use, life cycle and real-life situations instead of, say a gallery object. this means that practicality drives the object as much as aesthetics. in this case, practicality (attachment to women’s clothes) drove the form and created the core idea, the clothes-peg. so what we do is essentially using practical thoughts as sources of form-giving inspiration.

could you describe your favourite design element in the fitbit? I think the clothes-peg profile is very unique and takes the product away from normal tech-gadget appeal. it also allows for better fit and slimmer form against the body. I think its iconic and made the design the success it is.

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