The history of devices that tracks one’s number of steps found its roots in the 15th century when Leonardo da Vinci drew up plans to track the distance that a Roman soldier walked. However, the pedometer itself was invented in 1770 by Swiss horologist Abraham-Louis Perrelet. As pedometer technology progressed, it paved the way for fitness trackers such as Fitbit Cork that we know today.
In 1921, the polygraph or lie detector was the first to have sensors that can measure galvanic skin response (GS), pulse rate, and blood pressure. This technology is currently used in several fitness trackers, such as Fitbit Waterford.
The first proper fitness tracker found its way to the market in 1965 with Dr. Yoshiro Hatano’sManpo-kei in Kyushu University of Health and Welfare. The Manpo-kei translates to 10,000 steps meter in English developed to address obesity in Japan, speculating that 10,000 steps with a balance of other healthy habits can maintain health and wellness.
In 1971, Ford used accelerometers for commercial products with their automobiles at the time of the development of missile technologies. Today, modern activity trackers such as the fitness tracker Waterford use accelerometers to count their steps and track their walking.
On the other hand, the Polar Sports Tester PE2000, invented in 1982, was considered the forefather of all activity trackers, especially the watches for athletes who made way to display biometric information live on display and heart-rate-based training.
Another invention in the history of activity trackers is the GPS or Global Positioning System that was initially available for military use. Today, fitness trackers utilize GPD technology to map one’s exercise routine. Additionally, the first consumer device to have a built-in accelerometer is the Nokia 5500 Sport that utilizes motion sensing in monitoring calories burned, speed, distance, and the number of steps taken.
In recent times, Fitbit is one tech powerhouse that traces its beginnings as a hardware start-up in 2007. Fitbit originally started with the concept of having sensors in small wearable devices that James Park and Eric Friedman saw the potential of being a business.
For more information about the history of activity trackers from pedometers to Fitbit, here is an infographic provided by Irwins Megastore.