Jawbone offers you a lifeline in a wristband

It looks like the Fitbit isn’t the only wireless health monitor in town, with Bluetooth accessory maker Jawbone getting in on the action with a new bracelet that promises to keep an eye on you.

More than 200 hardware designs, 100 patents, 16,000 hours of engineering, and 2.9 million hours of real-world testing went into the device, which Jawbone’s Head of Partner Development Jorgen Nordin says “is not a fitness product, but a wellness product.”

“The Up is something to help you understand more about yourself and to help you make different choices,” said Nordin. “We like to think of it as functional¬†jewelry.”

That function is to help you lose weight, get moving, and become more aware of what you’re doing with your life, and using a combination of sensors, the Jawbone Up aims to do just that.

Like other fitness gadgets in the market, you’ll find an accelerometer inside the band works with algorithms to analyse what you’re doing, how intense activity sessions are, and then later on, see how you’re sleeping by monitoring the muscle twitches in light sleep and the lack of a lot of movement when you’re in deep sleep.

The band is water-resistant, flexible, and can be worn most of the time, including in the shower, though it can’t be taken swimming or on any other water-heavy activities.

Different from how the Fitbit works by making fitness more like a game, the Jawbone Up is designed to be more of a background device in that you wear it without realising it, going about your daily business and syncing it (plugging it into your mobile phone) every so often.

Syncing it also charges it, and the Up does all of this through the 3.5mm headset jack on your mobile phone, with support existing on the iPhone (as well as iPod Touch and iPad), and several Android devices that run on Android 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich,” including the Samsung Galaxy S2 and S3, Google Nexus 4, LG Optimus G, Motorola RAZR HD, and many others.

You will, unsurprisingly, need an app to send all of this information, but Jawbone has that catered for, too, with the Up app, which also allows you to log the food you’re eating, monitor your sleeping habits, and then get a view on how your health looks.

You can then, if you choose, share things with Facebook and Twitter friends, making your own social game out of it if you so choose, while a team at Jawbone will also look at the data you’re sending and offer health tips, such as getting to sleep on time, or when to take naps.

That last one is an interesting one, because you can also take a power nap using the Up app and wristband, and then set it to wake you up, with the accelerometer monitoring those sleeping patterns and then selecting the right time to pull you out of your sleep using a vibrating motor, making you less tired the sharp crack of an alarm going off.

“Everyone wants to improve upon themselves,” said Travis Bogard, Jawbone’s Vice President of Product Management and Strategy. “Today marks a big step toward our commitment to help people establish a basis for behaviour change by bringing Up to everyone who wants to live better lives.”

The Jawbone Up is heading to retail including Telstra and Optus stores from April 29, and can be found online from Apple now, with a recommended retail price of $149.99.

Up is available in several colours and three sizes, so make sure you work out what yours is before you buy, because you’ll be wearing it non-stop.