- 7 Jun 2011
Back in July, Jawbone did something puzzling. The company, best known for its Bluetooth headsets, teased a photo of a colorful wristband called the Up -- a deceptively simple thing that could purportedly track your eating, sleeping and exercise habits. The outfit left out a few teensy details: the price, shipping date and, the biggest riddle of all, how it works.
At last, the company's ready to talk specifics. We just got word the Up will be available in the US November 6th for $100, and will continue its world tour on the 17th. With that price, it's well-matched against the clip-on Fitbit Ultra tracker, and indeed, they have some key features in common -- namely, a step counter and a few requisite social networking features. But with a sensor that knows when you're in deep sleep and a mobile app that can identify photos of food, it has a few unexpected tricks that could give devices like Fitbit a run for their money.
Like Fitbit, Up sports a step tracker that keeps tabs on distance, pace, calories burned and active time versus hours logged in front of the computer sedentary periods. The band, available in seven colors, is also sweatproof and water-resistant, though the jury's out on how comfy it'll be during an hour-long run.
But its killer feature could well be a sensor that detects what stage of sleep you're in, and uses a vibration motor to wake you up when you're in a light sleep state. So, if you set your alarm for 7:30, it might rouse you slightly earlier if it knows your brain isn't availing itself of some sweet REM. Like Fitbit, it also knows how many hours you slept and how long it took you to nod off. Once you're ready to upload this treasure trove of data, just pull off the end of the wristband to reveal a 3.5mm plug. It charges via USB, and you should be able to squeeze out seven ten days of use on a charge, according to Jawbone.
Tying it all together is an iOS app that lets you snap photos of the food you're about to eat and parse the calories based on the image. (What? Ignoring weird looks while you're photographing your fries builds character.) Of course, it also has a requisite social networking component, in which you can challenge friends to contests -- say, "Who can do the most walking today?" -- and view stats on a leader board. (Fitbit's web app offers a good deal of community features too, for what it's worth.) The bad news: it's only available on iOS, and no, you can't access this data via a website. What's more, it's unclear when an Android version will follow, except that it'll arrive eventually. Fitbit, while lacking in apps, at least has a mobile website that will load on any device.