Update: We have put together a how-to for creating Google accounts for new participants who join a study after June 12, 2023. You can view that here.
You may know by now that starting this summer, new Fitbit users will need to make Google accounts in order to track their data using Fitbit devices. Existing users can keep their Fitbit accounts through 2025, and will need to make the switch then to Google accounts. Google accounts have extra safety measures which try to identify spam account creation and prevent too many accounts being made all at once. We are working with Fitbit / Google to put together a recommended approach for a solution that allows researchers to continue connecting devices to de-identified Google accounts in a way that does not activate the anti-spam phone number verification step.
We encourage you to consider the number of Fitbit.com accounts your study will need, and create them as soon as possible, well ahead of the Google account requirement deadline of mid-June this year. This also applies to studies using a GMail account to sign up new Fitbit account users today.
For research teams like yours, this has an impact on the way you work with participants to set up their accounts so you can capture data from their Fitbit devices. Currently, Fitbit account creation can be done ahead of time by the study team, on Fitbit.com to create a batch of fully de-identified accounts. A single email address can be created and linked to Fitbit accounts with no identifiable information.
A leading approach we are reviewing is to set up a new Google account once the updated Fitbit app is downloaded to the participant’s smartphone, and we will share more guidance soon.
We know guaranteeing de-identified accounts is important. Therefore, if you know the approximate number of Fitbit accounts your study will need, we encourage you to consider creating them this month ahead of the Google account anticipated deadline (currently mid-June). This guidance applies regardless of whether your study batch-creates Fitbit accounts or makes them one-by-one currently. Again, existing Fitbit accounts do not need to be migrated until 2025, and the accounts you create now can be used later on as you recruit participants to your study. They do not need to be connected to a participant immediately.
We have a guide about how to set up Fitbit accounts in our Knowledge Base, and are happy to answer questions about creating them. Please send any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org so we can help you navigate this process.
We will also continue to work diligently toward a solution with Google regarding the need for batch de-identified accounts for research purposes and will communicate the plan once it’s in place.