I've been playing with the Nintendo DS Walk With Me pedometer thing recently. Well, walking with, not really playing with. And it feels quite future-y. I was trying to think of something profound to say about it, but couldn't. But then realised I didn't have to, I could just report it and you lot could come up with your own profundities.
It's a standard DS game cart with two little lozenge devices, a white one and a black one (above, on the left, is the black one, with my regular pedometer). The lozenge thing has no external features or functions except a tiny LED that flashes when it moves; red before you hit your daily steps target, green after.
Syncing is easy and reliable - as simple as you'd expect from a games company rather than as rubbish as you get from a GPS company. And step counting seems pretty good too, within about 10% of my fancier pedometer.
It does what you imagine, counts your steps, remembers when you took them, counts periods of active walking. It's slightly obsessed with 'regularity of daily activity' in that way fitness games always seem to get taken with something they can measure, even if it doesn't particularly relate to health.
And there are the usual mini-challenges which you invariably can't do or forget about.
And then there's the madness. It looks at the amount of walking you do during the day and assigns you a style. Because I walk quite a lot and start early it normally decides I'm a Morning Lion. Though I wasn't aware that Lions were known for their regular hiking.
You can decide whether you had a moderate day, a good day or a very good day. I always have a good day. And there are various games you can play with your steps data.
You can consult historical records in a way you can't quite understand.
And you can go online and play various global games with your data. It seems I was 21st in the world with 104,385 steps, over some period I also didn't quite understand.
I really like Walk With Me. You carry a small, simple thing around with you which reliably collects interesting, useful data. The DS grabs that data really well and easily. Personally I don't like the lunatic ludic stuff they layer on top, but equally I'm not just looking for a digital pedometer that'll sync with my computer. The playfulness and the connectivity is important, they'll add dimensions to your data, it's just not quite right with this yet. The hardware is lovely, the games aren't quite there. I wonder how hackable it is.
To me, this illustrates the huge potential for partnering little devices to iPhones and Androids and the like. (Perhaps those little devices will be along the lines that Julian's been thinking of with the Flavonoid.)
You don't need your phone running a pedometer all day, not when you can have a tiny thing like this with you. If the phone can be the screen for little measuring pebbles like this then all sorts of fun and utility can follow.