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CBS is integrating Fitbit Flex activity trackers into this season of "Big Brother," letting viewers track the contestants' movement and other physical data. The trackers are already ranking the houseguests from most active to least active, providing fodder for potential rewards or punishments.
Throughout the season, according to CBS, Fitbit will reveal contestants' weight, number of steps taken, miles traveled, calories burned and active minutes, which can all be monitored on CBS.com.
Asked whether Fitbit had any concern about appearing on a show that's essentially about taking away people's privacy, Tim Rosa, VP-marketing at Fitbit, said no. "People that know us know our position on privacy," he said. "We don't share our individual data."
While the "Big Brother" role of course helps raise consumers awareness of Fitbit, Mr. Rosa said the company is just as intent on pushing innovation and new capabilities for the technology. Fitbit's open app programming interface lets developers use Fitbit data in their own applications, products and services, which he said will allow other big media companies to partner with Fitbit in different ways.
Fitbit's "Big Brother" appearance is the first time a wireless wearable technology will be integrated into TV in this way, but Mr. Rosa said TV networks have been expressing interest in working with the company for about a year. So which other shows could benefit from bringing in the device?
"The Biggest Loser" (NBC): This is just obvious, and it's surprising this partnership hasn't already happened. The reality series centers on overweight contestants trying to shed pounds and get into shape. Providing viewers with real-time access to their progress seems natural.
"The Bachelor"/"The Bachelorette" (ABC): On this season of ABC's "The Bachelorette," Andi Dorfman broke down in tears and said it's exhausting being the Bachelorette. But just how draining is it? I bet Fitbit could tell us. Is Andi getting a full night's sleep or is she off on moonlit trysts? And what do the contestants do when they aren't on dates? Do they just sit there all day in the house, drinking and pining? Fitbit could tell us. Alternately, it could tell the left-behinds just how far Andi is roaming with her one-on-one date of the day.
"Keeping up With the Kardashians" (E!): Can you keep up with the Kardashians? Play along with Kim, Khloe and Kourtney as they take Miami, New York and the Hamptons.
The Real Housewives (Bravo): Hair-pulling and swearing burn lots of calories, right? Slap Fitbit on the ladies and see just how many steps they take in their high heels.
"America's Next Top Model" (The CW): Talk about a social experiment. Tracking the weight of the models will probably lead to trouble, but who wouldn't want to know how many calories you burn when you "smize"? (That's Tyra Banks' catchphrase for smiling with your eyes.)