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A pedometer is a device, usually portable and electronic or electromechanical, that counts each step a person takes by detecting the motion of the person's hips. Because the distance of each person's step varies, an informal calibration, performed by the user, is required if presentation of the distance covered in a unit of length (such as in kilometres or miles) is desired, though there are now pedometers that use electronics and software to automatically determine how a person's step varies.
Used originally by sports and physical fitness enthusiasts, pedometers are now becoming popular as an everyday exercise measurer and motivator. Often worn on the belt and kept on all day, it can record how many steps the wearer has walked that day, and thus the kilometres or miles (distance = number of steps × step length). Some pedometers will also erroneously record movements other than walking, such as bending to tie one's shoes, or road bumps incurred while riding a vehicle, though the most advanced devices record fewer of these 'false steps'. Step counters can give encouragement to compete with oneself in getting fit and losing weight. A total of 10,000 steps per day, equivalent to 8 kilometres (5.0 mi), is recommended by some to be the benchmark for an active lifestyle, although this point is debated among experts. Step counters are being integrated into an increasing number of portable consumer electronic devices such as music players, smartphones, and mobile phones.
Pedometers can be a motivation tool for people wanting to increase their physical activity. Various websites exist to allow people to track their progress; however, many will also find entering their daily step count and a heart-beat count onto a calendar to be motivational as well. Pedometers have been shown in clinical studies to increase physical activity, and reduce blood pressure levels and Body Mass Index. A study published in the Journal of The American Medical Association Nov. 2007 concluded, “The results suggest that the use of a pedometer is associated with significant increases in physical activity and significant decreases in body mass index and blood pressure.”
A daily target of 10,000 steps was first proposed. The target has been recommended by the US Surgeon General and by the UK Department of Health. The main criticisms of setting a universal target are that it is not achievable for older persons with mobility problems or people with chronic diseases, but on the other hand, the target is too low for children.
One criticism of the pedometer is that it does not record intensity, but this can be done by making step goals time limited (for example, 1000 steps in 10 minutes counts as moderate exercise).
Leonardo da Vinci envisioned a mechanical pedometer as a device with military applications. The modern all-mechanical pedometer was introduced later to the Americans by Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson obtained a unit from France, but it is not known if he modified the design, or introduced it to the US as is. Although this pedometer is widely attributed to Jefferson, proof is difficult to obtain as he never applied for any patents on any of his inventions. In 1780, Abraham-Louis Perrelet created the first pedometer, measuring the steps and distance while walking.
In 1965, a pedometer called a manpo-kei (meaning "10,000 steps meter" 万歩計) was marketed in Japan by Y. Hatano. Y. Hatano promoted "manpo-kei pedometers" from 1985, after his research was accepted as proving that 10,000 Steps A Day was the proper balance of caloric intake and activity-based caloric expenditure to maintain a healthy body, and Jiro Kato who is Yamasa Tokei Keiki Co., Ltd., Tokyo Japan founder, Akira and Yasuji Kato's Father, manufactured pedometers recognized to be accurate, and, named them, "manpo-meter" (later known as "manpo-kei") as the world first invented device to measure number of steps of walking. "Manpo-kei" is a registered trademark of Yamasa Tokei Keiki Co., Ltd.
The technology for a pedometer includes a mechanical sensor and software to count steps. Early forms used a mechanical switch to detect steps together with a simple counter. If one shakes these devices, one hears a lead ball sliding back and forth, or a pendulum striking stops as it swings. Today advanced step counters rely on MEMS inertial sensors and sophisticated software to detect steps. These MEMS sensors have either 1-, 2- or 3-axis detection of acceleration. The use of MEMS inertial sensors permits more accurate detection of steps and fewer false positives. The software technology used to interpret the output of the inertial sensor and "make sense of accurate steps" varies widely. The problem is compounded by the fact that in modern day-to-day life, such step-counters are expected to count accurately on locations where users frequently carry their devices (attached to the belt, shirt/pants pocket, hand bag, backpack).
The accuracy of step counters varies widely between devices. Typically, step counters are reasonably accurate at a walking pace on a flat surface if the device is placed in its optimal position (usually vertically on the belt clip). Although traditional step counters get affected dramatically when placed at different angles and locations, recent advances have made them more robust to those non-ideal placements. Still, most step counters falsely count steps when a user is driving a car or makes other habitual motions that the device encounters throughout the day. This error accumulates for users with moderate commutes to work. Accuracy also depends on the step-length the user enters.
Apple and Nike, Inc. offer the Nike+iPod Sports Kit, which uses a shoe sensor that communicates with an iPhone (3GS or higher), iPod touch (2nd generation or higher), iPod nano (4th generation or higher), or dedicated adapter to transmit workout information such as elapsed time, distance traveled, and calories burned.
The Fitbit is an always-on electronic pedometer, that in addition to counting steps also displays distance traveled, altitude climbed (via a number of flights of steps count), calories burned, current intensity, and time of day. Worn in an armband at night, it also purports to measure the length and quality of a user's sleep. Inbuilt is a daily target, of 10,000 steps and 10 flights of stairs. Connected by USB with a computer, the user's data is automatically uploaded and displayed via a web-based profile page, that keeps track of historical data, to which can be added food consumption data. Based on activity users are awarded badges for daily step and climbing targets, as well as 'lifetime' awards for same. In the US and UK users can also download an iOS or Android app for recording and display of data.
Since most of the Smartphones, iPod Touches and some MP3 players are enhanced with an integrated accelerometer it is possible to introduce pedometer functionality to these devices. This option was successfully realized by a number of smartphone applications developers, enabling any fitness savvy smartphone owners to track the number of steps taken as well as passed distance and burnt calories.
This is the first integrated phone with a pedometer that works 24/7 and counts step like an Omron pedometer. The sensor is made by ADI. This handset was introduced in Japan in 2004 and has sold over 3 million units.
The Nokia 5500 Sports Phone uses an embedded 3 axis MEMS inertial sensor to detect the steps a user takes. The pedometer application tracks steps taken, time elapsed and distance traveled. However the application cannot run continuously as it drains the phone's battery and is therefore of limited use.
Nokia Sports Tracker features pedometer for Nokia Symbian phones with an Accelerometer. Accelerometers are included in phones to save correct orientation on photos and to improve gps positioning feature.
Nokia Step Counter is a free application available at Nokia Beta Labs which works on a wide range of N-Series Nokia phones. The pedometer application tracks steps taken, time elapsed and distance traveled. This application can be left running all day as it is not a huge drain on the battery.
The Sony Ericsson W710 and W580 walkman phones use embedded 2 axis MEMS inertial sensors to detect the steps a user takes. The W710 is a clamshell phone and displays the user's steps on the external display. The W710 must be closed in order for it to count steps. When the step counter is activated, it counts detected steps during the day, and at midnight it stores the counter in a day-by-day history and resets it to zero.
On November 1, 2008, Nintendo released the Nintendo DS title Personal Trainer: Walking (歩いてわかる 生活リズムDS Aruite Wakaru Seikatsu Rhythm DS?), which includes two pedometers. They connect to the game card via infrared signals.
On September 12, 2009, Nintendo released Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver in Japan. Each game comes bundled with a device called a Pokéwalker, which functions as a pedometer and allows players to transfer one Pokémon from their game to the Pokéwalker via infrared signals. Unlike the Personal Trainer: Walking pedometers, the Pokéwalker features a small LCD screen and multiple buttons. Walking with the Pokéwalker earns experience points for the Pokémon.
The Nintendo 3DS, released March 27, 2011, features an internal pedometer that counts and records daily step counts while in sleep mode. Every hundred steps earns a Play Coin, which can be spent on a variety of extras and bonuses. This pedometer is easily fooled, however, and 'steps' can be created by simply lifting the device up and down in the hand with a motion similar to walking.
Tractivity is a group of health related services which include a sensor that is worn on a shoe. The Tractivity sensor logs the distance a person walks or runs, the calories burned and the time the person was active. Their data shows up on the individuals private web page. Tractivity's online web application provides a graphical experience and motivational resource to encourage people to lead healthier lifestyles, something that pedometers do not traditionally include. Tractivity is able to account for the variation in a walkers or runner’s stride length that occur as pace changes. The sensors wirelessly transfer activity data to a secure server for viewing on an individuals computer.
A device already supporting this sensor is the Nexus 5. Another smartphone is the Samsung Galaxy S4 and Samsung Galaxy S5, which features a built-in pedometer that uses the S Health software to display your daily step counts.
The iPhone 5s contains a chip called M7 chip, it allows the main CPU to snooze while it tracks the motion of the phone, through the use of an inertial measurement unit consisting of accelerometer, MEMS gyroscope and compass. This means that it will know when you're jogging or when you're in the car, and can take that information and store it without needing to drain the battery by having the main CPU chugging away. It can retrofit the data to apps that you download at a later date, meaning any M7-enabled app that uses the new CoreMotion API will be able to give you information on recent training. It can also seamlessly slip from walking to driving navigation on Apple Maps, especially useful for keeping drivers safe behind the wheel.
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