Cheating A Pedometer The Easy Way

These days, pedometers are integrated into just about every smartwatch on the market, and some of the dumber ones too. Tracking step counts has become a global pastime, and at times, a competitive one. However, any such competition can easily be gamed, as demonstrated by [Luc Volders].

Generally, all it takes to fool a basic pedometer is a gentle rhythmic jiggling motion of some sort. Cheaper devices will even register steps with little more than vague shaking.

[Luc] exploited this with basic machinery. A servo’s output shaft is fitted with a 3D printed cylinder, sized to allow a smartwatch to be attached as if to a wrist. Then, a Raspberry Pi Pico simply rocks the servo back and forth at regular intervals, and the watch begins counting these ersatz steps. Looking at the project as a whole, we’re betting [Luc] took some inspiration from old-fashioned automatic watch winders.

It’s hard to envision an important application for this technology. However, if one is in a friendly competition with friends who don’t scrutinize the results too closely, this would be an easy way to win.

Alternatively, consider building a pedometer to track your hamster’s exercise regime. If you’ve got your own exercise hacks on the go, drop us a line!

9 thoughts on “Cheating A Pedometer The Easy Way

  1. Yes, the smart watches are not very smart. Mine (a well known brand) counts steps while I sleep. It once counted 50 flights of stairs when there were no stairs. (Too be fair, it was trying to account for the body position and exertion of dragging a shopping cart with 100kg of salt through the snow around the outside of the building where I used to work.) My wife tells me she sometimes gets a walking award just from moving her office chair.

  2. I used to work for a company that fined us if we didn’t get enough steps in, in a month (higher insurance rates). I thought that was insane and dystopian, so a certain servo and Arduino went through a lot of steps everyday…

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