Researchers
FAQ

Thank you for visiting our Fitbit Researcher Community! If you are interested in using Fitbit in a research study, here are some FAQs to help you get started.

What metrics do Fitbit devices track?
Fitbit offers a broad product lineup with devices that track a variety of metrics, including step count, floors climbed, distance, calories burned, active minutes, sleep time and stages, and heart rate. Please consult our product compare page for more information.

How do Fitbit devices sync data?
Fitbit devices use Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology to sync with mobile devices and certain computers. If the device is paired to the Fitbit app on a mobile device, it syncs every time you open the app. It can also sync periodically throughout the day if you have All-Day sync turned on. If you sync your tracker with a computer and Fitbit Connect, it syncs automatically every 15 to 30 minutes assuming the tracker and computer are in proximity, and the dongle is plugged in. More information is available here.

What is the battery life for Fitbit devices?
Battery life varies across the different models, and also varies based on use of the device and other factors. Several devices may last up to 5 days between charges, depending on usage and other factors. The Fitbit Zip battery should last up to 6 months before needing a replacement. More information is available here.

How much do devices cost?
Device costs vary by model; you can compare costs here. Researchers may be eligible for discounts up to 20% off the retail price of Fitbit products. In order to be considered for a discount, you will need to submit a Fitbit Research Application for review. Please find more information on this process below.

How do I order devices, and when will I receive them?
To order devices, please contact your Fitbit sales representative. If you do not yet have a sales rep, contact us here. If you are eligible for a discount, you can pay by credit card, check or wire.

If paying by credit card, devices usually ship within 24 hours of completion of your order. If paying by check or wire, it takes approximately 10 days to ship devices. It typically takes an additional 48 hours for us to approve tax exemption status.

Which device is recommended for research studies?
The right device for your study will depend on a number of factors, including the purpose of your study and the cost of the device. If you have questions about which device is most appropriate to address your research question and study aims, please consult our product compare page or contact our team to discuss in more detail.

How do I access and use the data generated by Fitbit devices?

  1. Daily summary data from an individual Fitbit account can be exported to an Excel or CSV file. Up to 30 days of data can be exported. The data is daily totals for the following metrics: Body; Foods; Activities; Sleep. More information on the data export tool is available here.
  2. Fitbit provides a web API for accessing data from Fitbit devices and anyone can develop an application to access data from a device. The Fitbit web API enables you to programmatically request data from Fitbit devices. As compared to the data export tool, the web API makes more types of data available and with more frequency and granularity.  To obtain web API access, you must have a Fitbit account and be registered at https://dev.fitbit.com/.If your research requires second-level, minute-level, or hour-level data, you must request access to the intraday time series feature. If you’d like to request this access, you must first register your application at https://dev.fitbit.com; after you’ve registered, send a private support request explaining your use case using the form on https://dev.fitbit.com/docs/help/ with the client ID obtained when you registered your application. If you are collecting intraday data, it is important to consistently sync devices. All Fitbit devices have a finite internal memory and intraday data is stored for 5-7 days, depending on the tracker (daily totals are generally retained for 30 days). Note that only a limited number of applications have access to the intraday time series feature, and not all requests will be granted access.Once you have registered to use our web API, you will need (engineering) resources to build out a custom app or dashboard to house/display your data. More information about the Fitbit web API is at https://dev.fitbit.com/reference/web-api.
  3. If due to technical resources or other reasons you are not able to use the web API, another option is to utilize a third party platform. We work closely with a company called Fitabase, a comprehensive cloud-based data management platform. This service was built to allow researchers to extract and aggregate data from numerous consumer devices at the highest resolution for a variety of physical activity, sleep, and weight measures. Depending on your study needs, there are a variety of other services that connect to the Fitbit web API.

Can I access raw accelerometer (or other sensor) data?
No, this data cannot be accessed. See above for more information on the data you can access and how you can do so.

Application

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Are Fitbit trackers suitable for studies that need to go through Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval?
Many studies using Fitbit devices have received IRB approval. IRBs and local ethics boards decide human research protections differently in different regions based on community and medical standards, so it is important to check with your local IRB and any other relevant bodies to share your intended use and proposal prior to beginning any study. It is often necessary to include a description of the Fitbit devices and their intended use in your study in your IRB submissions. An IRB may determine that Fitbit devices fall within a ‘low or minimal risk category’ depending on the scope of the study and their intended use in the research. As a best practice, a researcher should obtain approval or exemption/waiver for use of the Fitbit devices prior to beginning a study based on the advice of their applicable IRB.

How does Fitbit handle personal information?
Please consult Fitbit’s Privacy Policy for information on how Fitbit handles information collected from users.

Does Fitbit collaborate with external research teams?
If you are interested in exploring collaborations with Fitbit Research (e.g. data-sharing), please contact us here and note this in the comments section.
What customer support channels does Fitbit provide for study participants and coordinators?

  • Online help documentation: find resources on topics like setting up devices, syncing, and product features.
  • Customer Support: chat, email, or call one of Fitbit’s customer support agents.
  • Fitbit Community: connect with members of the Fitbit Community in order to share tips, resolve product issues, and start other relevant discussions.

If you have exhausted these resources and still have an unresolved issue, please get in touch with your Fitbit sales contact.

How do I submit a new product suggestion?

Please visit this page for Feature Suggestions.