SAN FRANCISCO--I'm at the Launch Conference today, and the first company I checked out was Greengoose, a very clever physical-activity monitoring company. It was at this same location, the San Francisco Design Center, at the competing TechCrunch conference, that I first saw the Fitbit, a little clip-on activity monitor that should have taken the fitness world by storm. But I've seen none of these little solid-state pedometers out in the real world, and nobody I know talks about what was once seen as a really innovative business. Can Greengoose succeed where Fitbit has floundered?
Greengoose has a similar pitch: It makes activity sensors. But they're cheaper, more flexible, and more interesting than Fitbit's. Founder Brian Krej told me he developed a highly efficient activity sensor that he can practically give away. He embeds the sensor and a small battery in devices you can clip on pants, like the Fitbit, or to be more interesting, onto your toothbrush, your dog's leash, or a medicine bottle. He even shows a credit card-size monitor you can stick in your wallet and forget about. Krej says the devices are so cheap they can be disposed of after their batteries expire, about one year.
These little sensors communicate over the 915MHz band to an Ethernet-connected receiver, which uploads data to a Web service, which is where you see your activity. Krej says the base station will sell for $24, and he didn't mention a subscription fee.
The sensors don't do location reporting, though. Correlating activity with a location-aware device, like a smartphone, might be in the product line's future.
Unlike Fitbit, which monitors exercise and sleep, Greengoose can monitor a lot more. Krej says he wants to make a game out of daily activities. Take your vitamins? 10 points! Forget to brush your teeth at night? I guess you get the plaque plaque.
I had high hopes for Fitbit, but I like this little start-up even more.