Co.Design

Jawbone Releases UP, A Wristband For Tracking Your Wellness

Priced at $100, the device is a leap for Jawbone. And it's aimed at nothing less than making its wearers happier and healthier.

"People know more about their iPhone than they do their own health," points out Travis Bogard, Jawbone’s VP of product development. "So how do we make them consumers of their own wellness?" Today Jawbone is finally unwrapping their attempt to solve the problem: The UP, a $100 wristband, smartphone app, and web app trio that work together to monitor your exercise habits, sleep cycles, and eating decisions. It’s already on sale on Jawbone’s website; on November 6th, it’ll be available at Apple, Target, AT&T stores, and Best Buy.

The product represents a massive investment for the company, and a potential turning point for it as well: Armed with a whopping $120 million in venture capital raised in just the last year, UP is intended to put Jawbone squarely within the $52 billion weight loss market and the $24 billion sleep-aid market. Jawbone hopes the device will become as ubiquitous as its famed headsets. Can it catch on?

"You have to create a Facebook-like engagement that keeps people coming back," points out Bogard. To that end, the UP wristband is meant to be worn 24 hours a day. When you’re awake, its accelerometer monitors your movement--whether you’re running, walking, or climbing stairs--and then sends that data to the app, which shows how many calories you’ve burned. When you’re asleep, the UP monitors your sleep stage, by tracking subtle fluttering wrist movements (a natural occurrence during REM sleep, which is similar to eyelid flutter). When its time to wake up, the wristband vibrates slightly, and times its alarm to the best phase of your sleep cycle. And finally, the UP smartphone app allows you to take pictures of your food and log your meals.

The cleverest features, however, are a bit more subtle. The UP isn’t meant to be a passive health-monitoring device--if so, it would be hard to see how people would keep using it, given how often, for example, diets fail. Instead, it’s meant to constantly nudge you into better behavior. For example, you can set the wristband to vibrate when you’ve been sedentary for too long--a reminder to keep moving around. There are also challenges you can take on, such as running or walking a certain distance each day, or biking to work three times a week. Users can track their progress as they go along, and they can choose challenges created by others (including professional trainers and public-health experts).

Jawbone also hopes that social-networking features built into the app will provide a missing layer of motivation. "The number one correlate with your weight is what your friends are doing," points out Bogard. "It’s not your DNA or anything else." So the app allows you to see the challenges that friends are doing, as well as their fitness progress and activities. As Bogard describes it, those features are meant to help push you into action on lazy Sundays when you’re deciding between going to the gym and watching football.

If UP works, it could augur a huge shift in the way we approach weight loss and staying healthy. It all hinges, of course, on that "Facebook-like engagement." Jawbone argues that technology inherently engages people--so even though diets almost always fail, technologies such as Facebook can create subtle behavioral shifts in short order. (How many times do you check your Facebook page a day?) But it’s a tall order to create a device that is ever-present but also not annoying. It places a high demand on a well integrated app/wristband system, and also a seamless user experience in the apps. It’s worth noting that UP will work best if it reminds you about your wellness precisely when you’re not thinking about it.

"Health isn’t about going to the gym three times a week," says Bogard. "It’s about the thousands of little decisions that you make during the day. It’s about what you do in between those 'healthy times.'"

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34 Comments

  • Beezlebub666

    You're right: "Health isn't about going to the gym three times a week."
    It's about going every fucking day!

  • Lubar Executive MBA

    This looks great.  I may need to rid myself of my Body Bugg.  When will the Android app be available? 

  • Gadget4Apple

    I am really thrill about this product. I want to write about it in my blog www.Gadget4Apple.com. When I went into their site right away and chose my country, which is Denmark, I could only do a pre-order. And instead of $99,99, it costs €99,99. Even including the sky high Danish VAT of 25 %, I will still have problem of explain this price difference in my blog. True a lot of products have different pricing in different countries, yet EU countries is not that much richer than the US anyway :-)

  • John Harber

    99euro minus 25% vat multiplied by today's exchange rate =$99 US

    It's exactly the same price!!!!

  • Benjamin Duvall

    An early step in the future of non-obtrusive wearable computing, for sci-fi fans, see "Rainbow's End"  by Vernor Vinge.

  • Mary

    Thanks for this ... I am speaking at a Spa & Beauty event next week in HongKong and will use UP as a n example of  technology being used in our ever evolving industry.

  • Sung Chang

    I think people are missing the point wanting this device to do a lot more than it needs to. This is a terrific entry into health monitoring, something that Nike+ helped make more mass and what FitBit is trying to make mass as well. But in the end, it's still a niche device. The social element is what's going to make it truly a daily device.  I'm psyched to get mine.

  • mila diamond

    Looks great and promising! I'm sure that it will improve with time. I like pbdesign1212's comment about adding GPS and make the data downloadable in in a format acceptable by insurance incentive programs! I'm definitely posting the link on my Women's Perfect Body Program website and the Facebook page!

  • Tbrail

    As a user of fitbit for the past year, I can tell you that keeping track of what you eat, how active you are, and how well you are sleeping raises awareness of what you need to do differently to get healthy.  The UP is part of a growing movement to put us in touch with our own health.  Afectiva's bracelet is even more powerful, but also more expensive.  Devices like this will be part of our future.

    When the UP is compatible with Android, I'll be interested

  • Nwrights

    I like it, but $100 seems a little steep. Drop it down to $50 and it becomes more affordable/feasible. Also adding a feature for food allergies would be sweet too. For example, monitoring what foods make you feel good and what foods don't. Other than that, sounds pretty sweet, but I'll have to save it for my Christmas list because of the price. 

  • Observationally

    I don't believe this product is a pathway to  health or even monitoring health. It is a gadget fad. My guess is that it will die as a product within a year.

  • DannyPrimeTime

     This has to be better than those silly Livestrong bracelets that are so prevalent in the midwest.  The land of beer bellies.   

  • pbdesign1212

    Nice idea. Add GPS because it is more accurate. Then make it so I can upload the data and export it to a format that lets me get that data to my insurance incentive program [like the Vitality program]. Then I'm not only am I benefitting from being healthy, I benefitting other parts of my life as well. 

    Oh, and add MP3 capability so I can listen to music while I run or bike or walk or swim or whatever — if I want to do that.