Jawbone, a company best known for making mobile headsets and speakers, is expanding into the health business.
The company has debuted a high-tech wristband called "Up" that, paired with a free smartphone application, tracks users' sleep and activity patterns and promises to "nudge" them to adopt healthier habits.
"Our focus here is how do we make health cool," Travis Bogard, Jawbone's vice-president of product management and strategy, told The Huffington Post. "I'd argue people know more about their iPhones than their own health. We're really not consumers of our health and we're not familiar with what goes into impacting our health at a broad level."
The device tasked with making health "cool" is a $99.99 water-resistant plastic wristband, about the size and fit of a Livestrong bracelet, that is meant to be worn all day, every day. The Up band is equipped with a rechargeable battery that lasts up to 10 days, an accelerometer that monitors a user's sleep patterns and physical activity, and a small vibration motor that sends signals to the wearer.
Jawbone promises that the wristband will help users "move more, sleep better and eat smarter" by providing data about their rest, diet and exercise.
For example, Up claims it can track users' sleep cycles through small vibrations in the wrist that are picked up by the accelerometer in the band, which can be programmed to serve as a silent, vibrating alarm that wakes users during the optimum point in their sleep cycle. Jawbone touts the wristband as able to log how long and how well the wearer has slept, as well as her steps taken, calories burned, and distance traveled during the day.
Taking advantage of these functionalities requires a separate device altogether, however: An iPhone.
Jawbone's fitness "system" necessitates syncing the wristband with the company's free iPhone app, which can be done by plugging the wristband into the smartphone's headphone jack.
Using data from the wristband, the app will not only chart users' rest and activity over time, but also prompts them to track what they eat by uploading photos of their meals, then rating how well they feel afterward, such as "energized," "hungry" or "tired."
There's even a social networking component to the Up app, should users care to share with their friends exactly how much they sleep each night or how many steps they take in an afternoon. Up users can choose to broadcast their health information with others who have created profiles on the app, though there is not currently a way to send updates to external social sites like Facebook. The Up app also offers health "challenges," which Jawbone describes as "a diverse and ever-growing list of individual, competitive and collaborative challenges [that] will keep you motivated and constantly improving."
There's no word yet on when an Up app for other operating systems will be available, which limits who'll be able to properly use the wristband. Up will be available from Jawbone's website, Apple, Target, AT&T and Best Buy starting November 6.
So can Jawbone, a maker of wireless devices, really crack the wellness business, especially with a product that depends heavily on a software component? Is Up as smart as it sounds?
HuffPostTech will be giving the wristband a whirl so be sure to check back for our impressions. What do you want to know about it? Let us know in the comments or by tweeting @bbosker. In the meantime, check out pictures of the band and app below.