Katie Linendoll, technology expert for CBS' The Early Show and occasional HealthPop contributor, discusses her thoughts on a new gadget hitting the health market.
(CBS) Americans are notorious for failing to track our bodies' "input and output" - how many calories we consume and how many we burn. If we knew better, would we act better?
Enter Jawbone's "UP" - a wristband device that tracks how much you eat, move, and sleep. The gadget, created by a company better known for Bluetooth headsets, was announced at the TED Global medical conference, July 12, 2011.
The $99 device comes in seven colors and three sizes. It's sweat-proof, waterproof up to one meter, and its rechargeable battery lasts up to 10 days.
There's certainly no shortage of fitness gadgets out there, but the UP holds its own. The band has a 3.5mm plug that fits in to the iPhone, synching the devices. After setting your age, weight, and height - and downloading the free UP app - the band is ready for 24/7 use.
Here's a breakdown of functions:
A touch of a button lets UP know you're going to sleep (a blue moon LED temporarily lights up). Overnight, the band tracks how many hours you're asleep, distinguishing between deep and light sleep (pictured left). It provides a day-to-day sleep timeline and gives you a score based on how well you're snoozing.
Need to wake up early? There's a nifty "smart alarm" that waits until you're in light sleep, vibrating when you'll feel less groggy.
Take a picture of your food with your iPhone, and UP creates a food timeline. The band also asks how you feel after meals, creating future associations between certain foods and your well-being.
I found "eat" to be the weakest link of the band's functions. I just couldn't get in the habit of photographing and uploading my snacks and meals, especially on the go.
You can set the band to "active workout" by touching a button (a green LED flashes). UP calculates your steps like a pedometer. I found this useful - I didn't realize how much walking I was doing.
UP also lets you interact with other users through "teams and challenges." You can track others through a "feed," and lend support your friends and family.
Need more motivation? The device links up to challenges from fitness companies including 24 Hour Fitness, DailyFeats, and GE Healthimagination. Completing their challenges can earn you real-life rewards, like $5 gift certificates to bars and restaurants in your area, or $75 off hotels.
My final take? The band is not too intrusive, has made me accountable to my own body, and I do think more about how much I move and sleep. Seeing the day-to-day data is a step in the right direction for tracking goals,challenging ourselves to do better.
Will it be a fad, or will users genuinely track their data and make better choices?