If you get life insurance through John Hancock—and you happen to be a gym rat—you’re in luck. In April the company started offering discounts and perks to members who agree to wear a FitBit tracker and share their activity levels with plan administrators.
If you are concerned about the privacy of your personal data, however, this sets up somewhat of a dilemma. Do you share your step count and heart rate with a soulless, hackable corporation for 15 percent off your insurance premium and some Amazon gift cards?
The engineers Tega Brain and Surya Mattu have a tongue-in-cheek way around this problem. Enter Unfit Bits, a series of “DIY fitness spoofing techniques to allow you to create walking datasets without actually having to share your personal data.” Now you can play video games and harvest insurance perks, all as your fitness monitor dutifully logs fake calories while strapped to your golden retriever or metronome. The duo purports to have found, for example, that a Jawbone wristband attached to a pendulum for 15 seconds shows that 51 steps have been taken and 4 calories burned. Given that the John Hancock program requires people to do three “verified” workouts per week just to earn a fraction of the points they’d need to net discounts, though, that would mean a lot of time spent twirling a FitBit around a power drill.