Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Jawbone’s App-Powered Wristband Encourages Health, Wellness

For about a month, Hosain Rahman has worn the same wristband 24 hours a day, even while he sleeps, exercises and showers. The wristband isn’t his favorite watch; it’s the lifestyle gadget his company has been developing for years.
Accessory company Jawbone on Wednesday revealed Up, a hardware and software system that tracks your eating, sleeping and movements to give you a reading on your general health. The wristband, which is about the same size as a Livestrong strap, contains sensors to track your activities, and a complementary smartphone app collects the data.
“[Up] is a total system that encompasses hardware and software to help attack this bigger problem that we see around health and wellness and utilizing all the things we’re good at and making really really good technology smaller … combining that with fashionable, wearable design and integrating that into a social, connected experience,” said Rahman, Jawbone’s CEO, in an interview with Wired.com
Jawbone’s Up joins the fray of smartphone accessories and software designed to help customers monitor their health. A smartphone’s wireless communications can enable accessories to deliver up-to-date, personalized data on a regular basis to track patterns and get feedback on improving workouts, eating habits and sleep patterns.
Silicon Valley startup Lark, for example, sells a similar wristband that you wear to sleep. The sensors inside the strap detect when you fall asleep and wake up, and Lark’s iPhone app collects all this data when the alarm goes off.
Looking forward, researchers also foresee that real-time health monitoring can potentially help prevent disease. University of Washington researchers have been developing a digital contact lens that collects data about blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels from the surface of the eye, to provide real-time feedback on your vital signs. This type of application could potentially inform people when they’re getting sick, so they can treat themselves before the illness settles in and avoid unnecessary trips to the doctor.
Rahman noted that Jawbone’s Up is not a sickness-prevention tool, but a lifestyle gadget designed to encourage wellness. The device’s sensors monitor your activities, then transmits the data to a smartphone app, which “nudges” you to improve your health with some helpful tips.
Jawbone’s goal was to make the device fashionable and comfortable so a customer can slip it on and forget it’s even there, Rahman said.
“I’ve been wearing it 24/7,” he said. “That’s a big proposition. The more you wear it, the richer and more accurate everything becomes.”
Jawbone has been developing the Up accessory for about two years. The product will ship later this year for iOS and Android devices. The price has yet to be determined.