LAS VEGAS--Some things are just plain hard work. Like walking the show floor at CES. Which is why Striiv, a 2-inch touch-screen device that counts every step or stair its user takes, is notable among the slew of fancy pedometers at CES this year.
Because all it's done since I clipped it to my pants this morning is tell me how awesome I am, with every step I take, and there are few things quite so motivating.
It would be easy to dismiss something so feel-good as nothing but a device that applauds the status quo, but the folks behind the $99 Striiv have been counting their little Striivers' activity levels, and in the months since it was first launched on Amazon.com, its users are only walking further. (Striiv users collectively hit the one-billionth-step mark on the eve of CES, which Striiv rep Lexy Franklin excitedly tells me is 18 trips around the globe.)
The main show announcement is that the device, first launched in October 2011, will now be sold at Best Buy, and that in April those devices will be updated with a social-media feature, by way of which users can share their progress and challenge other users via Twitter and Facebook.
Here's how Striiv works. Clip the 1.4-ounce device to your pants, or attach it to your keys or bag, and go about your day. Without having to recharge the built-in lithium-iron battery for a week, or sync the data to another device, you may forget that a 3-axis accelerometer is taking notes on whether you're walking, running, or taking the stairs.
"What Striiv does is reward you for your activity," Franklin says. "Stairs go from feeling like a chore to an opportunity. And it's not just a number, it's placed in a fun context."
Turning on the screen reveals how many steps you've taken today, and how many more you should take to reach a certain distance. A challenge appears beneath this status update. In my case, since this morning, I'm a fifth of the way to walking the equivalent of the entire Vegas strip (an apt marker), and can take on the challenge to go all the way.
If a user doesn't feel quite good enough yet, those who are so inclined can plug the device into their PCs, choose a charitable cause (clean water, polio vaccines, rain forest protection), and transfer their distances into corporate-sponsored contributions.