Weight Watchers taps Philips for activity tracking

By: Brian Dolan | Oct 11, 2012        

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11b5Rn7cqdL._SL500_AA300_For the past few months Weight Watchers has been quietly working with Philips to offer its members a way to track their own activity, which can earn them points that can be swapped for additional food points. Catherine Ulrich, SVP of WeightWatchers.com, took the stage at the Health 2.0 conference here in San Francisco with Philips DirectLife General Manager Gopi Koteeswaran to demo ActiveLink. During her comments onstage Ulrich stressed that while ActiveLink is an activity monitor, Weight Watchers views it more as a behavior change tool.

ActiveLink includes a small, simple accelerometer-equipped device — that closely resembles the original Philips DirectLife in design — as well as an online portal where Weight Watchers members can review their initial activity assessment, set goals, and convert activity into PointsPlus, which can be redeemed for more or different kinds of food.

Like the original DirectLife, the ActiveLink device needs to be plugged into the Weight Watchers member’s computer to upload data and sync to the ActiveLink site. The portal offers 12-week challenges that aim to increase activity for ActiveLink users over time. The activity monitoring data also syncs up with other Weight Watchers offerings, including its very popular weight loss app, which it developed with partner Mobiquity.

According to the Weight Watchers website, the ActiveLink device costs $39.95 and can be purchased directly from the weight loss company’s website. The service also includes a $5 monthly fee.

The Weight Watchers deal with Philips DirectLife group marks a considerable win for the activity monitoring arm of the Dutch giant. Philips first introduced its DirectLife product in 2009 at the TEDMED conference, but the device and accompanying service has remained relatively quiet since. DirectLife is smaller than most other activity tracking devices on the market and has stood out as one of the few truly waterproof devices — users can dive with them, the company has said in the past. When it first launched in 2009 reviewers lauded its simple and seemingly indestructible design as well as its easy to follow coaching program. The device lost marks for not being “cool looking” or including much of a feedback loop on the device itself. It has no screen and only features a series of green dots that light up. ActiveLink appears to have a similar mechanism.

More on ActiveLink over at the WeightWatchers site here.

  • Christopher Wasden

    Interesting that they would choose one of the oldest pedometer technologies out there rather than some of the newer ones that have gotten a lot of traction over the past few years. At first you might think it was price, but the price point that they are showing for this is very similar to the one that Fitbit has for their newest device, but no doubt price played a role in the decision. For me as a user of several of these devices, the biggest drawback of the Philips device is lack of information and lack of immediate transparency of the information. What I like about Fitbit, Nike Fuelband is that I get instant information without having to plug in or sync up my computer. 

  • Lukas Kreutzer

    @a9481698a081633dfcdac622252e1124:disqus For me it’s not the tech method that counts but the quality of the algorithm that calculates the caloric value of your activity. As per the whitepaper released by Philips this is supposedly unrivaled by any other device. Please note that I am an avid user of DirectLife and even have endorsed the brand considerably. Still, for me the combination of monitoring and the motivating personal DirectLife coaching was a massive plus over any other program on the market. But hey, as long as you working on improving your activity habits it works!

  • Christopher Wasden

     would be interested in a link to the paper if you can share it.

    I have used many of these different devices and I find that the caloric measures are highly variable but can be modified through various different calibration approaches. I have also cross calibrated these devices to see how accurate each one is versus another.

    For me a key to human behavior changes are three things: triggers, capabilities, and motivation. The key to triggers is transparency of information and software applications that link the data to insight and activities.

    So I would be interested in learning more about how their triggers and capabilities stack up to others.

  • Helen

    My Weight Watchers Active Link has suddenly stopped syncing.