Nowadays pedometers are considered a must-have gadget to remain still fit and keep our bodies in shape. However, they are still a lot to research about the technology and methods used in such devices. There isn’t a long written story about how pedometers were first made and how they evolved, but we still know they’re as old as famous scientist and painter, Leonardo Da Vinci. Yes, that’s surprising. The first versions of these tiny gadgets are coming out of history pages. The mechanism is a bit old but still has lovely engineering and clean execution. Talking about the history of pedometers is not really what I wanted to write about but it’s a necessary step to research the past to make progress in the future.
From the day the first smartwatches were introduced to the market, I was passionate to get and use on. So my first pedometer was Xiamoi 1S. It didn’t have any displays its only interface was 3 LED dots on the surface. But it was good, the app was good, and the quality of the gadget’s body was good. But, the only thing that was really bummer for me was the accuracy of the pedometer itself. It was usually over-counting or under-counting the steps. It can’t be a big deal when you’re only using it for everyday monitoring, but the point is, a pedometer, is built to be a pedometer. It is meant to do the right thing with the right accuracy. I know it’s a pretty hard job to only use electronic components to accurately understand if the user is taking a step or not and to count steps. Years later, I bought a Fitbit Charge 3 watch. It had a monochrome small display on it with basic touch interactions. Again, quality, battery, the app, and everything related to manufacturing were good enough. But, the accuracy was still low. So I thought, sure these are great companies with great products, how can we work on only the accuracy of these products? So I started to research pedometers, their history, how they work, and what mechanisms they use to operate. I know today’s pedometers are much more accurate than their ancestors but still, there’s free space to work on and improve.
After reading a few articles and some web pages and research about pedometers and could understand that there are different factors that are important to a pedometer;
- Where do you wear it?
- Weight and size.
- Battery life.
Each item has its own science and subject and it’s not easy work to achieve all together in a DIY project. to summarize my conclusions, I understood that wearing a pedometer on you ankle as the most accurate way to count the steps, and wearing it on the feet is the second most accurate. Using a small microcontroller with low consumption is a great option for the brain of the pedometer and it can also help to package all the hardware and battery into a small cube. Although ankle is the most accurate place for a pedometer but on or under the feet is an easier goal to achieve. So I’m going with the feet.
Features to implement?
Let’s define our project and what we do need and what we don’t. As a pedometer, we want to sync all the data to our mobile phone, in this case first we need some kind of connectivity that is supported by mobile phones. Bluetooth would be a good option. widely used, fast, low power consumption, and reliable. We would also need a mobile app to get the data, process and show it back to us. This app should be able to run on today’s market platforms like Android and iOS. the next step is the hardware, we need a fast, high-frequency chip, low power with enough ram, and flash storage microcontroller. The device would be on our feet, so we won’t need a display, great. Saves a lot of energy and time.
In the next log post, we’re gonna introduce the tools and software we need to do so. Stay tuned.