In early 2012 I had the pleasure of attending TEDMED, if you haven’t heard of it, it’s a healthcare conference that focuses on innovation. Part of their misson is also to be socially conscientious, this corporate initiative ended up causing the swag bag to have coupons for things instead of the the actual items. One could debate the carbon footprint of shipping things versus me carrying them home in my bag with me, but I won’t do that today. One of the items in this very nice bag was a coupon for a Jawbone UP band. The UP band is a 3D accelerometer shaped as a bracelet, used to calculate daily movement. I can understand Jawbone’s idea, give their new personal heath product to a group of vocal, influential and tech centric conference attendees to test out. This premise while sound at the time, backfired somewhat due to the problems that Jawbone had manufacturing these devices. Fast-forward to February 2013, I come home one day to a FedEx package, did I order something? I certainly didn’t remember ordering anything(but that’s not that unusual)… I open it and there staring back at me is a black UP band. It took me a few minutes to remember why I had one of these on my kitchen table, but it all slowly came back to me. Being the gadget freak that I am, I decided to give it a try to use it for two weeks to see what I thought.
The setup of the band was pretty simple, after downloading the UP app, I plugged it into my smartphone’s headphone jack . The app found the band and asked me some setup questions about my weight, height and gender, and that was it, it was ready to use. The UP has some nice features besides being a fancy pedometer. It can also wake you up in the AM, with a subtle vibration, within a predetermined window you specify. It can monitor your sleep quality and time spent in bed. It can also remind you to get up and move around if you are inactive for a predetermined time. These features are nice additions that most of the other products in this space don’t offer.
After using it for a few weeks, I can say I like it. It has definitely changed my activity level in a positive way. I like being awoken by its subtle vibrations and I can say being able to quantify my sleep habits has shown me that I sleep less than I think I do… I would like to see a web presence for my collected data. As it is currently setup, the data only resides on my smartphone. I think a cloud store of the data would be a welcome addition. Another negative aspect of the band is the small cover for the headphone jack, it is a terrible idea. I predict it will be lost within the next few weeks, once that happens it will be very uncomfortable to wear… Overall the UP is nice, however I’m not sure it can out shine the many competitors that have entered this space within the past year, only time will tell.