Mi Fit2

Xiǎomǐ Mi Fit2

Mi Fit2

I have been playing with wearables for some time, I bought my first pedometer in Japan (which I promptly lost). I’m no fan of big watches but I like having a bracelet that shows me the time and the important notifications.

In the past year, I went over multiple variants of the Fitbit charge, I broke the first by stepping on it, the second, the HR version, died because of some firmware update, I got a replacement – the next had the bracelet getting unglued, which I also got replaced, but that replacement also ended up with the bracelet unglued. The charging cables also started to work unreliably.

I did not feel trying getting another replacement, and I got really tired of the Fitbit software: no HealthKit support (I had to get a special app to do that), more annoyingly, even though the device captures the heart-rate the whole time, the data is not accessible, having a device that records data which you cannot get is worse than useless.

So I decided to go with Xiǎomǐ’s Mi’s Fit2. The review said the device was cheap and simple, with a very good battery life. I have been wearing it for more than a week and I must say the review were correct, the battery is still 42% full. Superficially, the device is similar to the Fitbit HR: a plastic bracelet with a display, with a heart rate sensor and single button.

A closer look shows a much smarter design, the device itself is a pill that can be pulled out of the bracelet, so you can swap bracelets and expose the charging connector. This means a broken bracelet is not a big problem, and that the charging connectors do not get dirty (a problem with the charge HR), as the charging connector grasp the whole pill, the connection is also more reliable when they are dangling off a wall charger.

I had a similar feeling with the software. The Fitbit software was always an over-designed mess, with some distinctive and confusing UI, that tried to do everything: you could track exercise, set goals, record meals, calories, water intake. There was desktop client (the device came with a special USB-bluetooth dongle), a web client. The device could notify for phone calls and SMS messages, but nothing else. Firmware updates just brought absurd features like the ability to set the text of the message displayed when the device was charged. Integration with other services was bad, integration with host operating system was horrible, no HealthKit integration, notification support.

The Mi software took the opposite route: the software does way less, but does it better. Localisation is there from the start, and imperial units are not not the default, neither are Chinese units (the device supports measuring the weight in 市斤 (jīn)< (rp>, which is 500 grams), the device can dispatch phone and SMS notification, but it also supports most of the chat applications installed on my phone: WhatsApp, Viber, Facebook Messenger, Skype. Calendar and e-Mail notifications are also supported. The notifications simply display the App’s icon. Having more information would be cool, but complicated with the vertical screen. English translation of the UI is a bit weird (notifications are in the play menu, but nothing serious.

The vertical screen makes a lot of sense for a bracelet, in particular when you target the Chinese market – writing Chinese vertically is much more natural than it is for latin text. The lack of desktop support also makes sense, it these markets, the computer is the rare exception.

I feel the Mi Fit2 is way less ambitious than the Fitbit HR, it tries less to be a fitness band and more to be an everyday device, with its cheap price, good software support, long battery, and exchangeable bracelets, I think it is a better device. Of course things could be improved, but at least the basics are there.

Élévation, rythme cardiaque, vitesse, puissance estimée, cadence

Senseurs & Vélo

L’année passée, j’ai remplacé ma montre fitbit charge par une Fitbit Charge HR (j’ai bêtement marché sur le précédent), qui est tombé en panne durant les fêtes, je soupçonne un bug dans le firmware, qui empêchait la synchronisation. L’objet a été gracieusement remplacé et je me suis remis à faire du vélo un peu sérieusement.

Comme j’ai un capteur bluetooth sur mon vélo, je peux à présent mesurer pas mal d’informatique : la vitesse, la cadence (le rythme auquel je tourne les pédales) et mon rythme cardiaque, plus de compteurs qu’une voiture classique.

Comme d’habitude le problème ne sont pas d’acquérir les données, mais d’y avoir accès. Si Strava permet l’exportation des informations au format TCX, impossible d’extirper les informations de rythme cardiaque de Fitbit, j’ai envoyé un message au support (#08575190) on verra ce que sera la réponse.

En attendant, les informations sont éparpillées sur deux dashboards, qu’il faut recoller à la main. À noter que le courbe du rythme cardiaque ne commence pas à zéro.

Élévation, rythme cardiaque, vitesse, puissance estimée, cadence

La première observation c’est que ces courbes ont beaucoup de bruit, pas réellement étonnant, vu que c’est un trajet à travers la ville. La seconde c’est qu’il n’est pas facile de corréler le rythme cardiaque avec d’autres informations: l’augmentation à la minute 23 correspond clairement à la montée vers Wollishofen, ce qui se passe à la minute 10 est moins clair, cela correspond à la région du Schiffbau, pas réellement une montée.

Malgré la ville, je suis plutôt régulier : j’ai tendance à aller à environ 20 Km/h avec une cadence aux alentours de 60 tours minute. L’avantage c’est que ce rythme ne me fatigue pas beaucoup – ici je rentrais après une heure et demi d’Aikidō – l’inconvénient c’est que ce rythme efficace est probablement un exercice négligeable.

Fitbit Charge

Warning
Timezone changes may result in data when the clock is rolled back, or gaps in data when the clock rolls forward. Automatic timezone changes only take effect after tracker sync.
OK

While big smart watches are the thing those days, I was more looking for a small bracelet that would do few things well: give me the time, display information about phone calls, and maybe do some light activity tracking. I finally bought a Fitbit Charge, which provides all of the above, but also tracks steps, floors you climb and you sleep patterns. I also like the fact that you can use it as a silent alarm clock.

The device itself is a rugged looking plastic bracelet which closes with sturdy looking metal clasps. The display is quite small, but luminous, there is a single button that shows the various data: clock, steps, distance, calories, floors. The device charges with a USB cable that plugs into a connector on the back of the watch.

Setup is quite contrived, besides charging, you need to connect a special dongle to your computer, which is kind of strange given the fact the watch communicates via bluetooth. The software lets you configure the watch, which you can then pair with your phone. All the subsequent data exchange I did with the phone. I’m not completely sure if the computer step was actually needed or not.

日本, right?

While the hardware looked pretty OK, the software is basically all over the place. Of course you need an account and the iOS app cannot sync with the bracelet without internet access, while the software is not as bad as the one for Withings scale, it is not good – it is no so much software to connect the bracelet to the phone as yet another health platform with support for the bracelet. As you can expect from a Silicon Valley startup, the support for localization is completely broken: you cannot choose a language, just a country and they try to guess it wrongly from my date format.

What’s worse is that the app does not support Healthkit, so you either have all you data with Fitbit (no), or you need another App to do data mediation Sync Solver. At least Fitbit has an API to retrieve the data. Be careful, for measurements like weight, Sync Solver will get bogus measurements in the past, polluting your database, so make sure to only enable syncing for measurements you actually have on the Fitbit device.

Given the fact this is a young market, it is not really surprising to see various players elbowing each other to be the central repository for health data. The truth is I don’t trust a single of these companies, and wish they would all support Healthkit directly, and let me store my data only on the device, not the cloud and instead of trying (and failing) to develop health frameworks, they concentrate on building good hardware with good basic support for watch features, like for instance supporting travelling between time-zones…