Thursday, September 26, 2013

My Bracelet is Watching Me: A Review of Jawbone Up

For my birthday, I received one of these:

This is a piece of what they're calling the wearable technology that will revolutionize our lives. I can see why. The bracelet interacts with an iPhone app that looks like this:

I had a couple of misconceptions before trying the app. One, I thought this communication would happen wirelessly. It doesn't. You're responsible for removing the silver cap and plugging the bracelet into the headphone jack of your phone to track your progress throughout the day. While this is only a slight inconvenience, I thought it might be worth pointing out.

My second misconception was that the bracelet has the power to track all of your activity throughout the day, whether it be lifting weights or doing laundry. Wrong. The paperwork that comes with the bracelet makes it clear the device only has the power to track your steps. For exercise tracking purposes, this makes it a very sophisticated pedometer.

However, I was pleasantly surprised at the device's ability to track my sleep. You have to remember to put the bracelet in "sleep mode" at bedtime but from that point, Jawbone Up takes over. I found out it takes me approximately 20-25 minutes to fall asleep each night, even when I would have sworn I drifted right off. If I wake up during the night, Jawbone knows. It also knows how many hours I spent in deep sleep (approximately two, on average) and how many I spent in light sleep (approximately six).

One of the most exciting features of the band, though, is its ability to let you know when you're idle for a set amount of time. I set my band to buzz me if I'm on my butt for 45 minutes. The buzz reminds me to get up and walk around for a few minutes.

Overall, the Jawbone Up is a great device for tracking your steps and counting calories. I haven't tried the Fitbit Flex or Nike+ Fuelband, so check out the reviews on those before you buy. If you can get past the fact that your band knows when you are sleeping...and knows when you're awake, you'll get great insight into your sleeping patterns and activity levels each day.