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Striiv will make you strive to exercise harder

The Striiv shows you how many steps you've taken.

The Striiv shows you how many steps you've taken.

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Updated: October 3, 2012 6:12AM

Oh, what frail idiots we Humans are. If you take daily runs, or even daily walks, or if you even just commit to moving around a lot more (walking to the kitchen for a slice of cake, instead of just eating the piece that’s within reach of the sofa), you’ll be healthier. Your heart and lungs will be better. Your bones will be stronger. You’ll be at a lower risk of developing diabetes or cancer.

But those aren’t good reasons.

“If you keep an electronic gadget clipped to your clothes or your bag, you can win cartoon coins for meeting daily movement goals.”

That’s a good reason.

“There’s also a scoring system, and a social network. So at the end of the day, you can discover that you completely humiliated your best friend in total movement.”

And that’s a great reason.

Yes, we like numbers and data. I added a Striiv Smart Pedometer ($99 from to my usual standard assortment of morning pocket-fillers and it managed to achieve in the first month what my Mom failed to convince me of over the entire course of my childhood: I need to get out and move more.

In the beginning, I used it as a simple, if pricey, pedometer. It has the basic post-iOS form of a touchscreen device and is controlled via a colorful onscreen interface. I imagine that its designers placed a lot of importance on durability and affordability, which is the charitable way of saying “the touchscreen requires a certain amount of getting used to.” But afterward, it’s a quick set-and-forget gadget that’s only about the size of half a hard boiled egg. It charges via USB and the battery usually lasts the better part of a week.

At the end of every day, you can collect your score. How active was I today? Is that more or less than yesterday? How much progress did I make against a target? Hey, cool! Personal best! I can peek at the number of steps, miles, stairs, calories I’ve burned, and minutes of activity. I never ever need to dock it to a PC to get any of these’s all handled by the Striiv directly, even day-to-day performance charts.

All of those are handy data sets to examine, and it’s a huge leap over the simple number offered by the little LCD pedometers you find in sporting goods stores. The Striiv is also much more accurate. It has a three-axis motion sensor (like what you’d find in a smart phone) and it’s also savvy enough to suss out the difference between walking somewhere and riding a bumpy bus. During a not-at-all-excruciatingly-boring mile long walk, I carried a Striiv, a pedometer, and an iPhone pedometer app that used its built-in accelerometer. The Striiv was most accurate by far, compared against a hand counter that I clicked with every step.

It has an altimeter, too, which means it can give you goals for climbing stairs instead of walking.

The main feature is simply that it puts a negotiation-free, excuses-free number on your overall daily activity. This in itself is enough to keep me motivated.

But it’s filled with other forms of digital candy. We’ve already learned that “walking will extend my life” isn’t enough to pull me away from my sofa. What if I could save other people’s lives instead? Through a partnership with Global Giving, Striiv will donate to different charities supporting clean water, polio vaccinations, preserving rainforest when you hit certain goals.

I’ve been more motivated by the more tangible goals. I’m trying to figure out whether I want to walk 30 blocks from Penn Station to my meeting near Central Park South, or if I should grab the subway. I fish the Striiv out of my pocket. It tells me that if I walk it, I can be a lazy lout for almost the whole rest of the day, and will have burned off enough calories to cover a cheeseburger at that great hidden burger bar at the Meridien Hotel on 58th. I walk.

Docking the Striiv and connecting to the Striiv website lets you upload and sync your data and examine stats more closely. Seems like a bit of trouble, but it does allow you to share bragging rights with your friends. I admit that I felt like kind of a bad ass when I got back to my hotel room at the end of an afternoon in Dublin and discovered that I’d done more than 16,000 steps. That’s some turbo-sightseeing, right there.

Which illustrates the benefit of the Striiv. I had been thinking about going back sooner, but I glanced at the screen and noticed that it was congratulating me on having a great day and encouraging me to make it an even 15,000. And so, I stayed out a bit longer.

The Striiv represents the very best of what technology can do. It operates silently, invisibly, and reliably, putting a digital face on a common (and necessary) daily activity that makes goals more visible and attainable.

If I live an extra four years because I’ve become more active, I’ll credit Striiv. If I’m killed by a bus at a crosswalk because I was trying to win another polio vaccination for some kid I was never going to meet anyway, I hope you’ll posthumously credit Striiv for that, as well.

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