How does a 3D Pedometer actually work?… and more FAQs

Pedometers have found their way into everyday life. They are used to measure our daily activity and encourage us to move more. Experts recommend that you walk or run 10,000 steps per day. But how does a pedometer actually measure that?

In this article you will learn:

  • How does a pedometer measure the steps?
  • How does a pedometer app work in a smartphone?
  • What are the most popular pedometer brands?
  • How much a pedometer costs and where to buy it.

The modern electronic pedometers operate with Piezo Technology. It is based on a microelectrical-mechanical system (MEMS), which is also used in airbags and smartphones. The 3-D sensor captures all movements three-dimensionally: forward, sideways and upwards. The system inside the pedometer then translates this information into steps.

The technology also allows the device to recognize whether it is a step or a different movement, unlike the older devices that added a few steps on a bumpy car ride. This is why there are still inaccuracies in the measurement of the steps in the now popular fitness bracelets worn on the wrist.

For highest accuracy it is recommended to wear the pedometer on the hip, or in the trouser pocket.

Step counters are available in different forms. Simple devices without connection to a smartphone, as well as the modern Activity trackers and Fitness Bracelets that connect via bluetooth to your smartphone. We have put together and compared the SIMPLE pedometers here.

How does a pedometer app work in a smartphone?

There are also a lot of apps on the market that advertise to count steps for you just by carrying your mobile phone. These pedometer apps also work electronically. They use a sensor in the phone that is installed anyway, namely to rotate the screen depending on the handset of the phone.

However, this sensor is designed to react to rotational movements, not to movements forward, sideways and vertically. Therefore, the measurement of these pedometer apps is not as accurate as even cheap electronic pedometers.

What are known brands of pedometers?

The Japanese medical device manufacturer Omron played the pioneering role in the classical step counters market. With the Omron Walking Style series – one of the first electronic pedometers – they started the intitiative of measuring your movements just a couple of years ago. They have since been overtaken by the Misfits and Fitbits bracelets that started not only measuring steps but also other vital parameters, such as heart rate. These devices connected to the cloud, allowing them to store and analyse the data over time and even share it with others.

The shooting star in 2016 was the British brand Competitive Sport Xtreme (CSX) with its bestseller CSX 3-D pedometer. For under $20 it currently offers the best value for money in this market.

Now there are more brands coming up and you can see identical products sourced from China under different brand names.

In the field of fitness bracelets, the market has become increasingly diverse, as more and more electronics companies are jumping on the bandwagon of the wearables. Garmin (GPS Systems), Polar (Heart Rate Monitors), Smartphone manufacturer Samsung, Huawei, Xiaomi, Sony and even Nike have brought Activity Trackers onto the market and now offer the start-up pioneers Fitbit and Misfit fierce competition.

And more and more, cheap commoditised bracelets under various brand names, even offer fitness bracelets with bluetooth connection for around $20.

What does a pedometer cost? Where can I buy a counter?

If you just want to measure steps and distance and do not need to upload, analyse or share the data, accurate pedometers are already available for under $20.

However, these do not have a workout mode, which automatically distinguishes between normal walking and running. So if you want to measure your exercise performance you would need more advanced fitness trackers.

In the table below we have put together the best rated simple pedometers on Amazon:

Top rated pedometers under 20 US$ in 2017

 3DFitBud3DTriSport Walking 3DOmron Alvita OptimizedOZO Fitness SC2
Sensor3-D3-D3-D3-D
# daily stepsyesyesyesyes
Distancenoyesyesyes
Aerobic Modenonoyesno
Calories burnednoyesyesyes
Data storageno30 days7 days7 days
WornPocket, around neckPocket, Clip and StrapPocket, ClipPocket, Clip
BatteryCR2032CR2032CR2032CR2032
Price