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Tractivity Activity Monitor Review

Discreet Shoe Monitor to Track Your Activity

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating


Updated August 13, 2012

Tractivity Sensor

Tractivity Sensor

Wendy Bumgardner © 2012
The Tractivity system uses a small accelerometer sensor worn on your shoe, ankle, or inside an insole. It has no display of your walking or running data until your upload it wirelessly to your computer via a USB stick. The sensor tracks steps, distance, active time and calories burned and you can view these all online only. The basic bundle for Tractivity sells for under $30 and doesn't require an ongoing subscription fee, making it an affordable choice. I found it easy to set up, use, and understand.

Tractivity is planning a release of an iPhone/iPad app and dongle to allow wireless updating and viewing of data via those devices, for Fall, 2012.

Wearing the Tractivity Sensor

The Tractivity sensor can be worn in three ways. It comes with a shoe lace holder that is very easy to use. Just slide it under your laces and the sensor snaps in securely on top. I liked this system as it made it no-fuss to transfer from shoe to shoe.

You can also buy insoles from Tractivity that will hold a sensor. This allows you to wear it discreetly in your dress shoes.

They also sell an ankle strap to wear it on your ankle. This can be a good option if you want to track your steps while wearing sandals, flip flops or going barefoot.

They do not recommend carrying the sensor in a pocket or wearing it on a waistband or wristband. It is designed to be accurate only on the foot or ankle.

You aren't limited to just one sensor, so if you find it convenient to get one for each of your most-used shoes, you can do that. The system is smart enough to not double-count data if you accidentally wear two sensors at the same time.

The sensor uses a CR2302 battery that should last a year of normal use. You can easily replace it yourself.

The sensor is water-resistant but not waterproof. It shouldn't be used for swimming.

The sensor turns itself on when it detects motion, and powers down automatically when it is idle for awhile. You don't have to remember to turn it on or off. You don't have to put it into airplane mode when traveling because it only transmits when you run the Tractivity Connect program on a computer with the USB stick plugged in.

The system works for both PC and Mac.

Viewing Your Data Online

Tractivity Hourly Detail

Tractivity Hourly Detail

Screen Shot by Wendy Bumgardner
The sensor has no display, so the only way you will know how much activity you are getting is by uploading the data to a computer. They do not have a phone app, either. For me, that's the biggest flaw in the system. I like to have readouts throughout the day to keep me motivated. Uploading only when near a computer where I can install the USB stick and have an internet connection is not convenient. Fortunately, Tractivity is working on an iPhone/iPad app and dongle to allow you to update your data on the go. Once that is released in Fall, 2012 the system will be much more mobile.

To upload the data, you must have the USB stick plugged into the computer and then you run the Tractivity Connect program to upload the data to the Tractivity web site.

You will see an hour by hour total for steps, distance, active time and calories burned. You can also view the daily, weekly and monthly data.

You can't drill down deeper than hourly data. You can't really track a specific workout during the day unless that is the only time you wear the sensor.

You can refine the distance measurement by measuring your stride length.

Tractivity also encourages you to enter your weight and waist measurements and you can see them also charted on a graph. Adjusting your weight will give a more accurate number of calories burned.

You can set daily goals for distance, steps, calories burned, and active time.

Achievements and Social Sharing

You earn step awards and distance awards for all-time achievements. You can post these awards to Facebook or Twitter.

You can also post any hour, day, week, or monthly totals to Facebook or Twitter. The posting does not lead them to your account, but only posts what you choose to post.

Tractivity currently has no social sharing among Tractivity users.

Bottom Line on Tractivity

Tractivity Awards Screen

Tractivity Awards Screen

Screen Shot by Wendy Bumgardner
The Tractivity system is easy to use and I like the flexibility in how you can wear the sensor.

I prefer an activity monitor that has a real-time display, either on the sensor or available via a phone app.

Tractivity can be used to track your total daily steps and active time, helping you achieve the recommended amount of exercise for health. You can track individual workouts if you only use the sensor during those workouts.

Tractivity doesn't have an integrated diet-tracking program.

This is a very affordable activity monitor system, priced lower than systems such as Fitbit.

I think the system will be much more friendly to use with the planned iPhone/iPad app and dongle for doing more on-demand updates of you data when you are away from your home computer (and for those without home computers!) Until then, you might use it in addition to a waistband pedometer than has a step display if you want data throughout the day away from your computer.

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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