Tracking one’s walking distance and the number of steps taken has a long history that traces its roots back in the 15th century when Leonardo da Vinci sought to track the distance a Roman soldier walked. In line with this, the history of the pedometer started with Abraham-Louis Perrelet’s invention in 1770 and Thomas Jefferson’s mechanical pedometer in 1777. Pedometer technology has seen some progress from other technological developments utilized on fitness trackers that we know today, such as Fitbit Cork.
In 1921, the polygraph or lie detector became popular, measuring galvanic skin response (GSR), pulse rate, and blood pressure. Today, it is a technology that is currently being used in some fitness tracker Cork.
On the other hand, the first modern pedometer emerged in 1965 when Japanese professor Dr. Yoshiro Hatano introduced the Manpo-Kei, which translates to “10,000 steps” in English. It was developed to help address obesity in Japan, which sold quickly as tracking the number of steps each day became popular.
In 1971, accelerometers were used by Ford for commercial products in their automobiles. Accelerometers can detect a moving object’s motion and deceleration. It is also used today for step counting in fitness trackers like Fitbit Waterford.
Polar PE2000 was introduced in 1982 which is considered the forefather of all activity trackers. It is a combination of an electrocardiogram (ECG) and a radio chest strap which also paved the way to introducing the possibility of displaying biometric information of athletes and heart rate-based training.
In 1996, GPS or Global Positioning System, which was initially available only for military use, was introduced. Today, fitness trackers utilize GPS in mapping a person’s exercise routine. Ten years later, in 2006, Nokia 5500 Sport made motion-sensing technology possible as it is the first consumer device with a built-in accelerometer. It monitors calories burned, speed, distance, and number of steps that someone has taken.
A year later, in 2007, hardware start-up Fitbit saw a transformation into a tech powerhouse in around ten years. Fitbit originated from the idea of using sensors in small, wearable devices, to which James Park and Eric Friedman saw potential in transforming it into a profitable business.
If you are looking for more information about the history of activity trackers from pedometers to Fitbit, here is an infographic by Irwin’s Megastore.