Striiv Gamifies The Pedometer Craze

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The pedometer – those little things you wear to measure your steps – has always been a weight loss gimmick. Only recently, however, have pedometers gotten smart enough to do more than just vaguely shame us into walking a little further. Take Striiv, for example. This keychain-sized device measures steps walked and stairs climbed and includes a unique set of cute little games that should, in theory, get you off your bum.

Like the FitBit, Striiv senses strides and stair climbs from the comfort of your pocket. It has a small LCD screen and lasts one week on one charge, making it quite Tamagotchi-like in its size and interface. To use it you just slip it into your pocket and it gives you goofy little badges (“Good start” for your first 150 steps, “Average Day” for 4900 steps, the average number of steps an American takes each day) and you can track your daily stats.

Then it gets a little weird. First, you can “donate” your steps to causes like “Clean Water,” the Rainforest, and Fighting Polio through GlobalGiving.org. You can also take little challenges like running 1300 steps in a few minutes or actually standing up off the couch at night.

Then there’s Myland. Myland is like Farmville in that you buy and plant trees using the “gold” you earn while walking. The less we say about this strange game the better.

Striiv syncs with Macs and PCs via a MicroUSB cable (it doesn’t support wireless connectivity) and costs the same as the new Fitbit Ultra, $99. The sync system sends your “donations” and other data to the server and updates your goals.

I’m a big fan of these sorts of tools. They encourage folks to exercise through what seems like play and they allow you to see how much you’ve walked during the day. Is Striiv better than Fitbit? I’m not sure — it’s a different demographic. The Striiv is a lot bigger and designed to actually sit on your keyring, and the Striiv offers more in the way of on-screen interactivity whereas Fitbit shines online. The Fitbit is also much smaller, which is a plus.

However, the Striiv is fun, cute, and entertaining which is more than I’ve ever asked for any piece of exercise equipment, let alone a pedometer.

The device will be available this weekend in stores.

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