Work, sleep or play - a wristband that monitors your entire life
Road-testing the Up wristband that monitors exercise, sleep and diet brings more awareness and surprising information
Ciara O’ Brien, right, wearing the Jawbone Up wristband, sparring with Evette Wade at the kickboxing class, at Bushido Martial Arts Academy, Clondalkin. Photograph: Eric Luke
The idea of a band that monitors your entire life may seem like it’s teetering on the edge of Big Brother-style intrusion, but an increasing number of devices will do just that for you. From Withings to Nike, wearable fitness technology is becoming big business.
This is the second go for the Jawbone Up. The first ended in the product being withdrawn from the shelves and refunds. It didn’t last long in the shower, for a start, but Jawbone has promised that its latest version is more durable.
The Up band covers quite a bit. Instead of simply tracking your movement, like the Nike Fuel band, it also monitors your sleep. It works as a stopwatch too. All this data is fed into your Up app, building up a picture of your day.
On the basic Up app, movement is measured by steps only, which seems a little arbitrary, especially if you like cycling and other sports. But the app does allow you to connect with a range of other services, such as My Fitness Pal, Sleepio, RunKeeper, Notch and even IFTTT (If This Then That), which makes it more useful.
If you are looking for a lazy way to do things, the Up band isn’t it. It requires a bit of user intervention. For example, at night, you have to remember to switch it into sleep mode, or else it will tell you that you haven’t slept at all, throwing your stats out for the week.
After you switch it into sleep mode, it will track how long it took you to fall asleep and then, based on your movements, how much time you spent in deep sleep versus lighter sleep.
And the more information you give it, the better picture it builds up. You can log your food and drink, and your daily moods through the app, giving the system a more rounded view of your typical day.
The Up app provides daily “insights” that are intended to be inspiring. Most of them appear to be aimed at a US audience, citing US-based figures for average movement and so on.
One thing: the Jawbone Up requires a smartphone to transfer your data to the service, allowing it to build up a profile of you.
After two days it will have enough data to start noting trends so you can see how well you’re sleeping (or not), and how your activity level fluctuates. It will track workout time, calories burned and, if you give it the information, your food intake too.
It’s easy to set up: charge it, download the app and plug the band into the headphone jack on your phone. It walks you through the steps and you are ready to go in only a few minutes, which is refreshing.
There’s no Bluetooth to wind down the battery life on your band or your phone; all data transfer is done via the headphone jack. Jawbone recommends you do the sync about twice a day. You get about 10 days out of a full charge on the band, but you need a USB-to-headphone jack attachment to do it, which is slightly annoying because it’s the first thing you misplace.