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Amazon Alexa to help Fitbit users get into shape

Fitbit Surge watches
Source: Fitbit
Fitbit Surge watches

Starting Thursday, Fitbit users can tap Alexa, Amazon's virtual assistant, for motivation to stay healthy.

Amazon's platform can now, when prompted, communicate what Fitbit knows about the user's exercise performance and vitals. Plus, if needed, it can provide a little encouragement, said Rob Pulciani, director of Amazon Alexa.

Amazon Echo Dot and Amazon Echo.
Source: Amazon
Amazon Echo Dot and Amazon Echo.

Example: Command Alexa to ask Fitbit how many steps you've taken, and Alexa might respond that you've taken about 4,500 steps, but still need 5,500 more steps to hit your daily goal.

The Alexa skill integrates Fitbit data about activity, sleep, resting heart rate, calorie intake, weight and battery life. The device knows about 50 phrases.

"One of the things that we have done that we think is really unique is really trying to put a little bit of fun and the motivating Fitbit into the experience," said Tim Roberts, Fitbit's executive vice president for Interactive.

Roberts expects Alexa to be a complement to the mobile app for its 16.9 million users. "It's just another way to keep our users motivated and on the right path to achieve their goals," he said.

"Exercise is something that you sort of need that confirmation and that encouragement," said Pulciani. "To have Alexa help you do that, help you track and keep giving you those encouragements on a daily basis, hopefully that helps exercisers like myself find consistency."

Amazon does not reveal sales numbers, but there are millions of Alexa-enabled devices in the marketplace, and the software now has close to 400 skills, or tasks it can perform, said Pulciani.

"We think it's so important, we are building a voice platform with Alexa," said Pulciani. "It's great to have an open platform with developers because we don't know what the best experiences will be in the future — developers and customers wind up dictating that."