Researchers FAQ

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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.

Basics

Which device is right for my study?
The right device for your study will depend on a number of factors, including the purpose of your study, the population of interest and the cost of the device.

Our product comparison page is a great place to start and we’re happy to help if you have a device type in mind.

Has ever been used in a study like mine?
Fitbit devices have been used by researchers for more than a decade and we’ve compiled a publication library where you can filter by device and other criteria. As you can imagine, it takes time for our newer devices to get to the publication stage in research, so I’m happy to help you find a device that best meets your study and population needs.

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. You may want to check out our Web API data dictionary for specifics on available endpoints.

How do Fitbit devices sync data?
Fitbit wrist worn devices use Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology to sync with mobile devices. Research staff should instruct participants to keep the Fitbit mobile app open on their mobile device to ensure their device syncs periodically whenever in range. For more information on syncing, please see “How do Fitbit devices sync their data?”.

How can participants access their Fitbit account?
Fitbit users can access their account from their desktop, laptop, tablet or compatible mobile devices.

What is the battery life for Fitbit devices?
Fitbit wrist worn devices have a battery life of five to ten days depending on the model, and can also vary based on device usage. Check out our product comparison page for battery life details for all our devices.

If I’m planning a multi-year study, which Fitbit device should I choose?
We always recommend selecting a device that best suits your research and population requirements. If you’re planning a multi-year study, our long-standing product families like Charge or Versa are updated periodically but have similar core features. You can find details on all our available devices here.

How many studies have Fitbit devices been included in?
We uncover new publications every day! All the studies we’ve been able to identify using Fitbit devices are catalogued in our Publication Library which we update frequently.

Data & Tools

What types of data does Fitbit collect?
Different devices collect different types of data, however you can find general information in our Fitbit Privacy Policy under Information We Collect.

How do I collect data from Fitbit devices?
Researchers have several data collection options:

  • For Fitbit accounts established by participants or research staff, daily summary data from an individual Fitbit account can be exported to an Excel or CSV file. You can find more information on the data export tool online here.
  • Fitbit provides a public web API for accessing data from Fitbit devices at no charge. With technical resources, developers can create an app that programmatically requests Fitbit device data from participants once they’ve authorized your app’s access.
  • If due to technical resources or other reasons you are unable to use our public web API, another option is to utilize a third party platform. Fitabase is a longtime Fitbit partner and they’ve built a platform on top of Fitbit’s web APIs that allows researchers to collect and aggregate data from consumer devices.

  • Can users make changes to the data format in the individual data exports?
    No, but you can make product suggestions here.

    How does Fitbit protect data?
    Fitbit takes the security and privacy of end user data seriously. More details can be found in Fitbit’s Privacy Policy.

    What’s intraday data? And how do I get access?
    Fitbit’s web APIs have the ability to expose a finer granularity of data collected throughout the day. This collection of data is called intraday data. Intraday data is available through the Activities and Heart Rate Time Series endpoints. Intraday support can extend the detail-level response to include 1 minute and 15 minute for Activity, and 1 second and 1 minute for Heart Rate.

    If you are planning to access data via our public web API, you’ll need to first establish a client ID, submit a research application and place a request for intraday data. We recommend building time into your plans to complete these processes before launching your app to avoid potential delays.

    If you are planning to work with a 3rd party platform, like Fitabase, they may already have access to intraday data. If working with a third party, we recommend reaching out directly to confirm this granularity of data can be collected for your study.

    What’s Fitbit’s software developer’s kit (SDK)?
    Fitbit’s software developer’s kit (SDK) gives developers the ability to build apps and clock faces for Fitbit’s operating system (OS). If study participants are equipped with one of Fitbit’s smart watches, researchers can display and capture novel data from participants directly on their wrist by developing a custom app or clock face. You can learn more online here.

    Where can I get help with the web API and SDK?
    Our web API documentation and general developer documentation is all available online. Fitbit also has a supportive and active developer community which offers a wealth of online guidance.

    It’s important to note that you or your team will need to have technical knowledge and assets to utilize these resources.

    Alternatively, our third party partner, Fitabase, has built a platform that allows researchers to collect and aggregate data from consumer devices.

    If you need support, you can submit an online request and a member of our API support team will reach out soon.

    For general Fitbit support, you can get in touch with our world-class support team here.

    Can I collect GPS data from Fitbit devices?
    Geolocation is available through our web API only with recorded exercises and devices that support GPS. For our smart watches, developers can access geolocation data outside of recorded exercises, however we recommend short-term data capture to avoid impacting battery performance. Please visit our Research Pledge and Platform Terms of Service for important privacy considerations.

    You can find more information on our geolocation web API endpoints here.

    Does Fitbit have a data dictionary?
    Fitbit’s Web API Data Dictionary defines commonly used activity, sleep, heart rate, weight, food logging and device endpoints.

    What is Pure Pulse 2.0?
    As part of our OS 4.1 update in 2020, we released an improved heart rate tracking experience for our smart watches called Pure Pulse 2.0. You can find details on our updates in the following help articles “” and “What changed in the latest Fitbit OS update?

    What’s changed in the latest Fitbit device update?
    You can find details from both our device and operating system online here.

    Can Fitbit make deidentified data available to researchers?
    No.

    Can researchers collect the following data types from Fitbit device? Skin temperature, HRV, SPO2, EDA.
    Not currently.

    Can researchers see the interval time between heart beats in the API?
    No, but researchers can request access to Fitbitt intraday data which can get down to 1 sec heart rate measurements, which may work for some research needs.

    Purchasing

    How much do Fitbit devices cost? Is there a research discount?
    Device costs vary by model and you can compare costs in our product comparison page. Researchers may be eligible for discounts up to 20% off the retail price of Fitbit products in the U.S. and Canada.

    If your study is outside the U.S. or Canada, we can’t guarantee a research discount but will introduce you to a local distributor who may offer a similar discount.

    Once you’ve decided to include Fitbit devices in your study and your study details are finalized, please submit a research application. Once approved, we’ll send you an email introducing you to a Fitbit team member who can help you place the discounted order.

    How do I get the research discount?
    When you’re ready to purchase devices for your study and your study details are finalized, please submit a research application.

    Can Fitbit provide a letter of support?
    In most cases, we’re happy to provide you with a standard letter of support. Please submit your request here and a member of our team will be in touch soon.

    Does Fitbit assist with grants?
    We’re currently not able to assist with grants or grant proposals.

    What if I can find a better discount online?
    Our research discount is 20% year round, while retail promotions are time sensitive. Additionally, many retailers don't support ordering several devices at once or may have caps per purchaser during a certain period of time. Additionally when purchasing from Fitbit Health Solutions, our customer support teams can provide priority support for both participants and researchers.

    Can Fitbit provide me a quote?
    Fitbit is able to provide quotes for orders that meet the following conditions:

  • Order must be for a minimum of 30 devices and in increments of 10s by SKU
  • Order must be paid by credit card, check or wire (credit card is preferred and check/wire can add 7-10 days to the ordering process)

  • Does Fitbit accept purchase orders?
    Fitbit only accepts purchase orders from clients that are already approved for credit with our Team.

    Legal

    Can Fitbit change their terms and conditions?
    We are not able to alter our terms and conditions.

    Where can I direct questions about legal concerns (compliance with local or federal laws) in regards to research?
    Please reach out to legal@fitbit.com

    I’m planning to create participant materials that include Fitbit’s logo and screenshots from Fitbit’s mobile app and website. Is this okay?
    Please email materials to legal@fitbit.com for review.

    When publishing an article that involves Fitbit data, is there any way we need to cite Fitbit?
    Citations should be inline with other citations in your publication, however we ask that you note that when referencing Fitbit data you do so with as much specificity as possible.

    Do I need a business associate agreement (BAA) with Fitbit?
    Purchasing Fitbit devices for research via bulk order does not require a BAA.

    Is Fitbit HIPAA compliant?
    Yes, Fitbit complies with all applicable HIPAA requirements.

    Are Fitbit devices FDA approved?
    Fitbit’s trackers and smartwatches are not FDA-regulated products. The Aria 2 scale is an FDA-regulated medical device, and complies with all applicable FDA requirements.