Jawbone raises fitness level of Up to new heights

It’s getting warm, and that means it’s time to get healthy, you know, because you have to fit into swimmers and bikinis. Helping out is technology, and Jawbone’s latest offerings aim not only to help you when you’re awake, but also when you’re sleeping, too.

It’s not like it’ll be hard to find gadgets to help you shed those kilos either, with gizmos for your wrist, your waist, for you to stand on and run to and do all manner of things.

The fitness friendly wearable market is a big one, and gadgets you can pin to your body are big business, with everyone getting in on the action, such as Samsung, LG, Sony, and TomTom to name a few.

Jawbone has been there for a while with its Up bracelet, a health band we’ve liked in the past in both the Up and Up 24 incarnations, and now it’s time to see what the company has been cooking up since we last saw it fiddle with health earlier in the year.

For its new models, it appears Jawbone is still interested in the wrist band concept, but is changing it a little, while adding a sort of “Up Lite” model for people who are curious about the concept, but not game enough to plonk down the money for a dedicated health gadget, so there are two to look.

First is the little model, and that’s the Up Move, an entry level fitness tracker that is small and will communicate with a modern smartphone or tablet when you walk, run, jump, and sleep just like the previous Jawbone models, but is much, much smaller.

“Up Move is a fun, easy way to track activity and at just $69.00, it’s a great option for anyone at the beginning of a fitness or weight loss journey,” said Travis Bogard, Vice President of Product Management and Strategy at Jawbone.

“Incorporating the same best-in-class lifestyle and activity-tracking features of our Up and Up24 bands, Up Move combines style, versatility and comfort with highly accurate tracking and personalised guidance.”

The new gadget is positively tiny, and looking at it last week during our briefing, we remarked how ideal it would be for a button, with sensors to track steps using MotionX technology, and a way of connecting to phones using Bluetooth Smart to relay all the information you need in a gadget barely bigger than a watch face.

And a watch face is an interesting gadget to compare it to, because while the Up Move has been designed primarily as a fitness tracker, a small series of LEDs underneath its physical face will turn the Up Move into a small watch, telling you the hour and minutes, while still being able to track you when used on your wrist.

Alternatively, you can cling it your clothing and track your movements from the waist, or even another part of your person that can take the Up Move’s clip.

Sleeping is also trackable, with light sleep and deep sleep analysed, similar to what we’ve seen from previous Jawbone activity trackers.

The battery is also significant too, as you normally have to recharge a fitness tracker, but the tiny form-factor of the Up Move includes a watch battery — again with the watches — with a lifespan of up to six months before it needs replacing, and yet still talking to your phone all throughout this.

Pricing for the Jawbone Up Move comes in at $69 with one of five colours — onyx (black), blue, grape (purple), red, and grey — with wrist accessories turning it into a rudimentary watch for $39 for three.

Jawbone’s Up Move is basically a starter model, and feels like a direct attack at Fitbit’s Zip, which features a similar size and price, and should provide some good competition in this area, but it’s not the only model Jawbone is introducing.

If you’re already into getting fit, Jawbone’s next generation of Up wrist band has your name all over it, as well as a few sensors to boot.

It’s called the Up3, and as the name suggests, it’s the third-generation of the gadget.

Like the previous generations, its a band for your wrist with an emphasis on health, but unlike some of the competitors in the fitness wearable market, it has been designed primarily for health, with Jorgen Nordin, Jawbone’s Head of International Partner and Product Development, telling GadgetGuy that wearables are in a bit of a chaotic state with customers.

“We think there’s a bit of confusion around wearables,” he said, adding that “everybody’s putting all wearables into the same bucket: Google glass goes in there, fitness trackers: anything goes into that basket.”

“We think there’s quite a lot of education still needed to be done towards the market to show that all these things aren’t created equal,” said Nordin.

And he’s right: they’re not. A smartwatch isn’t a pair of smartglasses, and a fitness tracker doesn’t necessarily have to be a smartwatch. They can share components and features, but when the primary use changes, so too does the category it sits in.

The LG G Watch being worn by this journalist while the briefing was done can track elements of fitness, and I can even download a pint-sized version of Jawbone’s Up app to the watch to make it more health friendly, but that won’t turn the smartwatch into a dedicated health tracker, even if it runs an app from a company known for producing fitness accessories like Jawbone.

Nordin then showed us the next generation of its Jawbone technology, and that’s where you start to see the line being drawn in the sand, or in this case, the grass, the dirt, the asphalt, the wooden floor, or the gym mat, where ever you plan on getting your fitness thing on.

For this next generation, the company has taken its familiar fitness wraparound wrist band and given it a small buckle allowing it to tighten to the wrist, a necessary step that not only makes the band more comfortable, but will also allow it to track even more information, and that’s because this band isn’t just the same set of sensors as last time.

No, it has been redeveloped, now working with more sensors, including an accelerometer for movement and temperature sensors, but also some bioimpedance technology centred around tracking heart rate, respiration rate, and galvanic skin response, the latter of which can be used to determine your emotional and physical state due to how your skin is travelling.

This combination of technologies has culminated in the creation of a platform, and it’s this sensor platform that Jawbone hopes to help tell a complete story of your health with.

“We hear a lot about multi-sensor products and multi sensor devices these days and none of them are really created equal,” said Nordin.

“We set ourselves a challenge where we said that it has to be smart enough, It needs to be efficient [and] it needs to last at least a week on one charge, it needs to be stylish so people will want to wear it, [and] it needs to have a form factor that makes to be unobtrusive, because the sleep tracking piece is crucial because its an integral part of your overall health.”

According to Nordin, that is the Up3, an evolution of its Up band that communicates more about your life than previously, utilising these sensors to track your physical state while you’re awake and also sleeping, and sending the information to its Up app that can be found on iOS and Android.

A point of difference: the new Jawbone Up3 in black with the older Jawbone Up24 in orange.

To date, the Up platform has tracked 1.7 trillion steps and over 140 million nights of sleep, and with the sensors used in the new model, it hopes to do even more, digging into the nitty gritty about what your heart tells you when you’re going running on watching a scary movie, and using the information inside to even find out not just when you’re engaged in light or deep sleep, but rather when a REM cycle is actually occurring while you’re resting.

For Nordin and the team of scientists at Jawbone, this information will help to paint a complete picture of your health, and it will do it from the wrist.

Out of the box, the sensors are there, but not all have been activated. We’re told from the point of purchase, you’ll see resting heart rate working, but later on, on-demand heart tracking will also be there, as will hydration tracking, and even the ability to track stress and fatigue with the aim being to tell you when you need to have a rest, because sometimes you need that extra jab.

Food tracking is being improved on the app side, and we’re told more Australian food will be included, giving you a reason to enter that sort of information in, a feature that will add to the overall picture, no doubt.

But unlike other fitness wearables we’re seeing, Jawbone’s Up3 is not a watch, and while it integrates with your phone, it will not collect or buzz you when there’s a phone call, or a message, and it won’t even display the time.

Rather, it will try and keep you healthy, almost like a wedding band for your wrist that you wear to stay fit.

Jawbone’s Up3 will be in stores within the next few months with a recommended retail price of $229.99.