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Hack Pauses Netflix for Sleeping Fitbit Users

Perhaps you're some kind of superhuman with an adamantine will, but the rest of us mere mortals have all fallen asleep while marathoning Netflix at some point. A team of enterprising programmers decided to save you from losing your spot by syncing up Netflix with a viewer's Fitbit fitness tracker to pause programs when the user conks out.

The idea comes from programmers Sam Horner, Rachel Nordman, Arlene Aficial, Sam Park and Bogdan Ciuca as part of Netflix Hack Day. This 24-hour project encourages programmers to create novel add-ons for Netflix and present them to Netflix employees to see how useful they might be.

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Although getting the two products to work together required some ingenuity, combining Fitbit and Netflix for this purpose actually makes a lot of sense.

Fitbit, a wearable fitness tracker, has the ability to monitor how long and how well the wearer sleeps. Netflix has the ability to auto-pause should a user lose connection, or watch too many episodes in a row without confirming that he or she has not actually left the comforting, soporific glow of the boob tube.

The hack, which its designers call the "Sleep Tracker," is extremely simple. A user watches Netflix while wearing a Fitbit. If the Fitbit detects that he or she has nodded off, it will lower the audio and pause the stream, then ask the user if he or she is still awake. If not, the user can resume the stream from the same spot on any device when he or she wakes up.

Since the hack is just a proof of concept, there's no evidence that it will ever grow into an actual Netflix feature. Among other things, there is no formal relationship between Fitbit and Netflix, and Netflix does not provide unrestricted access to its developer tools.

Other novel ideas from Netflix Hack Day include customized playlists, PIN-protected profiles and a radial menu for entering passwords on the PS3.

The Fitbit/Netflix hack may never make its way to Netflix proper, but if this group of programmers could figure it out, other ambitious hackers may be able to accomplish the same thing. If you want your Fitbit to accommodate both the active and lazy parts of your lifestyle, get coding and make it happen.

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Marshall Honorof

Marshall Honorof is an editor for Tom's Guide, covering gaming hardware, security and streaming video. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.