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09/25/2009

Constant fitness companion tracks your every step - and snore

File this one in the 'wish they were shipping to Canada' category. Soon to be available in the US, and internationally "a few months" afterwards, Fitbit is like a personal trainer in your pocket. The tiny system features a 3D motion sensor that measures the intensity and duration of your physical activities. It will tell you how many calories you have burned, how far you have travelled, and even how long it took you to fall asleep, and how often you woke up during the night.

The system, which features a tiny display showing you your activity throughout the day, is designed to be your constant companion. It can be  worn anywhere -- on your belt, in your pocket, and on a wristband, included with the device, designed for you to wear in bed.

And here is the neat part: it comes with a wireless base station that senses your Fitbit when you come within range. The base station, which connects to your PC or Mac, then relays all the data from your device to the company's website. You can then use the website as your fitbit.JPGpersonal activity tracker. It will show you trends in your activities and enable you to tell, for example, how well you are sleeping overall, or whether your calorific intake is outpacing the calories that you are burning (and, therefore, whether you should ease up on the fast food). There is also a section on the website to manually enter details about the food that you are eating.

We've seen fitness sensors before, such as the gizmo embedded in Nike+ running shoes that speaks directly to your iPod. But Fitbit is unique because it measures your activity constantly, regardless of whether you're in exercise mode or not.

As someone who should get to the gym far more often than I do, I can't wait to try this device. But until it's available in Canada, probably sometime early next year, you might want to consider some other services and applications that help you to track your fitness. MapMyRun helps you to keep track of where you are jogging, calculates calories burned, and even integrates with another sensor, the Polar heart rate monitor, so that you can upload your data. DailyBurn enables you to track what you eat, and also record your workouts. Meanwhile, its social networking function enables you to hook up with others who share your fitness goals, so that you can encourage each other. The service also just launched a food scanning application for mobile phones that lets you snack bar codes with your camera, and automatically add the food to the database of what you're eating.

Now, all we need is an electronic system that gets your sleepy head out of bed in the morning, and on to the track. That nut might be a little tougher to crack.

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Danny BradburyDanny Bradbury

Danny Bradbury is a technology journalist with 20 years' experience. He writes regularly for publications including the Guardian, the Financial Times, the Financial Post, and Backbone magazine. Danny also writes and directs documentaries.

Maurice CachoMaurice Cacho

Maurice Cacho is a Toronto-based journalist mixing his love for tech with a passion for news. He's also CP24's Web Journalist and appears daily on CP24 Breakfast and weekly on the channel's tech show, Webnation, discussing tech news and trends.

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