Co.Design

Jawbone Announces Up, A Wristband To Track Health, Fight Obesity

A combination of a sensor-infused wristband and a smartphone app will provide nudges for healthier living, based on your behavior.

Just an hour ago on stage at TED Global, Jawbone announced the grand project they've been quietly working on for years: A wearable band called Up, which is infused with sensors and smartphone connected, allowing you to track your eating, sleeping, and activity patterns.

"The interest grew when people realized how large this market is."

"The CDC says that for the first time in history, lifestyle diseases such as diabetes are killing more people than communicable diseases," Travis Bogard, Jawbone's VP of product management, tells Co.Design. "We're trying to solve that problem." The Up's sensors collect data about how much you've been sleeping and how much you've been moving. That data is then fed into a smartphone app, which also takes in information about your meals. (You enter meal data manually, in part by taking pictures of what you've eaten.) Based on all that information, the smartphone program provides "nudges" meant to help you live healthier, day by day. For example, if you haven't slept much, when you wake up the app might suggest a high-protein breakfast and an extra glass of water.

Up-by-jawbone

Up's announcement finally explains the $120 million in venture capital cash that Jawbone has raised in the last four months. (That $120 million is more than double all the venture backing Jawbone received in it's first 11 years in business.) And it represents an entirely new space for the company with more potential than any it's tackled before, including Bluetooth headsets and speakers. "The interest grew when people realized how much work we've done in body computing and how large this market is," explains Bogard.

The product was designed by Yves Behar's Fuseproject, but the software was developed by Jawbone's current CTO, Jeremiah Robison, who joined the company recently after serving as CTO of social-gaming company Slide. For the sensors, Jawbone tapped the expertise of Philippe Kahn, the CEO of Fullpower Technologies, a pioneering company in sensor development.

Although it looks like a chic sibling to the Jawbone headset, Bogard points out that the product isn't meant to speak only to fashion-conscious city slickers who've supported Jawbone's baseline products. Rather, it'll be "affordable" and come in a range of colors, and it's meant to become a seamless accessory rather than a fashion statement. "It's about the same size as a Livestrong band," says Bogard. "I've worn it constantly for the last two months, even in meetings where we were talking about the product to raise financing. But no one noticed. That tells us the product is working as we intended."

In fact, constant wearability was one of the chief problems that Bogard's team wanted to solve. While devices such as Fitbit promise to provide data about your workouts, their utility is limited by the fact that people don't wear them all the time. "We looked at the products out there, and there's so much friction around wearing these devices all the time," says Bogard. "But if you wear something like Up all day, there's all sorts of interesting things we can plug into our software."

For now, Jawbone declines to announce the price, but they say Up will be available by the end of 2011 in target countries, including the U.S.

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18 Comments

  • guest

    Wow! This is definitely a one up (no pun intended) from the Body Bugg, which has been featured on the Biggest Loser. Computing the data to your phone, along with meal tracking and suggestions. Love the "bracelet" part of it as well, as it will be much easier to wear daily and even while sleeping! Can't wait for this product to be released!

  • ekivemark

    I would love to see Jawbone demonstrate this device to the #QS Quantified Self and passionate health folks at HealthCa.mp/sfbay on 9.23.11 at Kaiser Permanente's Innovation Center in San Leandro. Anyone have a contact at Jawbone to help this happen?

  • Timo Ahopelto

    This product has potential to break-through in the area that no-one has been able to break-through. I believe that the future is in consumer-driven medtech like this and Valkee bright light headset, and alike.

  • Aaron Houssian

      Philips has been following a similar plan with their direct life in terms of targeting employers.  I'm guessing that the direct market will be a lot larger and more accessible.

  • Anna Jacobi

    I'm afraid this could only be for the lazy community and not active community.  I can't see wearing this while: Diving, Caving, Rock Climbing, or Kayaking without interfering with the sport or getting damaged.  This device would conclude that the active or even weekend warrior was not fit.

  • Jennette Camplin

    A very cool idea and yet it completely leaves out anyone who doesn't have a smartphone.....

  • Michael Brown

    Yes, but so do the many cool apps that only get designed for the mass iPhone / iPad market, completely leaving all those who choose to go the WebOS, Blackberry, or Android route with their collective cheese in the wind.

    Not to mention, some SmartPhones are really inexpensive now.  So much so that there's almost no excuse not to have one.  The vast majority of consumers will be using them  in another 2 years.

  • Lydia Sugarman

     Caoimh Do you have the exact measurements? Personally, I do not perceive an issue with it. People wear all kinds of bracelets and other jewelry, grow accustomed to them, and they don't inhibit activity at all, e.g. watches.  For some, hazardous work conditions prohibit all jewelry because of dangerous work conditions, it doesn't matter how thin a piece is, it's still a hazard.I think this is absolutely thrilling. I am just hoping there'll be an API to synch with personal health data-storing platforms such as we're building at Caduces.

  • Hunter Ziesing

    Outstanding concept. We plan to use this or a device like to track our participants who walk, run, and ride in our outdoor events www.echelongranfondo.org  We plan to tie it into their employers health plans and give rewards for healthy behavior.

  • Garret Ohm

    Awesome, but a bit of a branding challenge, eh? The "JAWBONE" Up bracelet? I guess they never had the "What if we create future products that don't sit on peoples' jaws?" discussion...

  • Richard Geller

    What a very cool idea! Perhaps, it will prove to be  a significant first step toward wearable instrumentation that puts more control in the hands of the individual to choose health maintenance and preventative strategies in favor of seeking  cures for diseases we might have avoided. This is the kind of company I want to support.

  • Caoimh

    "In fact, constant wearability was one of the chief problems that Bogard's team wanted to solve" -
    The thickness of this model alone will interfere too much with everyday actions to be constantly wearable. I'm sure it's due to the current state of the hardware and will eventually be made as thins as a silicon charity band or thinner.