All fitness apps and tech devices essentially do the same thing. They measure your activity and allow you to set goals. In some instances, these devices act to motivate you by leveraging social media and using it as a competitive force amongst friends.
These devices are mass-marketed and can be quite fashionable, but eventually end up at the bottom of some drawer like many other fad pieces (think the Bluetooth ear dongles everyone sported in the last decade). I’ve reasoned that this occurs because of the same thing that happens at the beginning of the new year. On January 1, the gym is packed. On January 31, though, it’s the regular crowd of habitual exercisers—those who are committed.
However, CharityMiles, an app available for Apple and Android, might have just found its niche. Originally intended to capitalize on the multi-billion dollars spent on charitable donations by refreshing options for donors, it has been able to capture interest in do-gooders who might have been interested in a wearable, but not quite committed without further cause beyond their own health.
It’s a fairly simple concept. It tracks the distance you cover while exercising to rack up money for a good cause. You download the app, select a charity, and start it up. Bikers can earn 10 cents a mile and walkers and runners earn 25 cents a mile. (You’re exercise has to be trackable by GPS to get credit, so treadmills and stationary bikes don’t count.)
The project is being independently funded until a $1 million dollar initial pool donated by founding sponsors is reached. After, the pool will be open to outside donations. Thirty-one nationally recognized organizations like Stand Up to Cancer, Wounded Warrior Project, and Feeding America all are participating.
CharityMiles was started in 2011, but the project seems to still be in its infancy. They are still currently active on Crowdfunder, but their last update was in June 2013. Upon research, no other information was easily accessible online about actual donations being made to any of the charities listed and there are only 11 reviews for it in iTunes. Still, as one reviewer mentioned, the concept is great for engaging in your routine physical activities, like walking the dog. You could choose the ASPCA as your charity of choice and help out other pets, if that’s what you’re into.
Because health and charity naturally go hand-in-hand, as many benefit from research of disease cures or general financial assistance, the idea is novel in that it essentially exists to facilitate the giving process. Similar ideas like Striive and Plus3 exist, but are not as easily as feasible because of the cost or organizational setup. In time though, CharityMiles could be just as recognized in the industry as FitBit because of its motivating factors alone.