Omron recently introduced a pedometer with a USB connector that can upload your step data to your computer. I’ve wanted something like this for years, so I ordered one from Amazon for 33 bucks and started testing it.
My verdict? It’s the best pedometer I’ve tried. It’s accurate, and because it has two inertial sensors you can wear it in your pocket instead of on your belt. The built-in software works great on Windows XP, and lets you slice your data in several ways:
Plus you can export your data as a CSV file. Overall, I love this pedometer and always carry it with me.
So what keeps this product from being perfect? First, the pedometer has a 41-day memory. Memory is pretty cheap these days, so why not a 90 or 120 day memory? Next, the Omron software only runs on Windows. If you have use an Apple or Linux computer, you’re out of luck. In January 2007, Greg Kroah-Hartman offered on behalf of the Linux kernel community to provide free Linux device drivers for any hardware device:
All that is needed is some kind of specification that describes how your device works, or the email address of an engineer that is willing to answer questions every once in a while. A few sample devices might be good to have so that debugging doesn’t have to be done by email, but if necessary, that can be done.
In return, you will receive a complete and working Linux driver that is added to the main Linux kernel source tree. The driver will be written by some of the members of the Linux kernel developer community (over 1500 strong and growing). This driver will then be automatically included in all Linux distributions, including the “enterprise” ones. It will be automatically kept up to date and working through all Linux kernel API changes. This driver will work with all of the different CPU types supported by Linux, the largest number of CPU types supported by any operating system ever before in the history of computing.
That’s a pretty great deal. Whaddaya say, Omron? All we need is your permission and a tiny bit of info about the protocol; heck, I’d pay for 2-3 kernel developers to get the pedometers myself. If you’re not willing/able to document your protocol, here’s a suggestion for your next iteration: make the pedometer look like a little flash drive, and create a special text document on the pseudo-drive with the user’s step data. Then anyone could read their data, regardless of the type of computer they used.
These are small nitpicks though — the kind you offer when a product is so close to perfect that you start to root for it and push for perfection. It’s a great pedometer and quite affordable at $33.
Now I just wish every health device could connect to a computer. Omron offers a blood pressure monitor that also connects to your computer using the same software as the pedometer (it’s all seamless). I’ve tried it, and the blood pressure monitor works well. If Omron ever offered a scale that connected to a computer, I’d immediately get one of those, too. In the meantime, I’m not aware of any other pedometers or blood pressure monitors that connect to a computer, so it’s a good thing that they’re both solid products.