The Return of the Jawbone UP

David Pierce, reporting for The Verge:

Come back Jawbone has, with a re-launch of the device that company VP Travis Bogard says is free of the problems that plagued Up, and offers a number of new features as well. The $129 device now comes in a number of new colors, which Bogard says were created almost by accident — Jawbone used different colors to differentiate its various prototypes, and liked some of them so much they added them to the final offering. It's also much better made, and rigorously tested: Bogard couldn't stop talking about the 100-plus patents the company has for Up, the testing standards it had to create because military specs weren't comprehensive enough, the "Big Shower 2000" that tested the band's water resistance, and the like.

The original Jawbone UP, despite its well-documented flaws, struck me as a really rather compelling product.

The notion of allowing your smartphone to control and interact with your tangible world is fascinating. Moreover, in many respects, I believe it's indicative of the future of computing.

Bridging the gap between real and digital experiences is unquestionably the trajectory we're currently observing in the consumer electronics industry, and the Jawbone UP has historically been at the forefront of this trend.

Boasting a better and less intrusive aesthetic than the Nike Fuelband, the resurgent UP is of genuine interest. A product I could well see myself picking up in the lead-up to the holidays.

Here's hoping the UP's problems have, indeed, been fixed.

For more information, visit Jawbone.

The Verge Reviews the Nike+ FuelBand

Bryan Bishop reports for The Verge:

What’s fascinating about the FuelBand, however, is how deceptively fun it makes exercise. By decoupling physicality from any currently accepted empirical standard, the only baseline becomes your own performance, or that of your family and friends. The system also takes some phrases that are quite tainted for many people — words like calorie, or carb — and removes them from the picture entirely (striking the calories menu from the FuelBand entirely is just a checkbox away).

What you’re left with is a product that’s probably not that interesting for hard-core athletes or the exercise-obsessed, no matter how many times LeBron James appears in the commercial. Instead, the FuelBand is a device designed to simply make the idea of exercise and physical activity fun and rewarding.

The FuelBand sounds intriguing but I am disappointed at the lack of sleep tracking. Measuring exercise with the Jawbone UP provided a vague and potentially distorted metric for your activity, but the sleep tracking was phenomenal. Considering the ostensible death of the UP, I was hoping Nike might incorporate some of its better features, like sleep tracking, into the UP but, sadly, they have eschewed such functionality.

That said, the gamification and sociability of your activity appears to provide novel incentive for increased exercise. Integration into Path 2.1 looks phenomenal, albeit potentially hamstrung by the relatively small size of the budding social network.

Ultimately, if you are looking for something to measure your general fitness and activity in a pseudo-attractive package, it seems the Nike+ FuelBand may be the product for you. Having said that, if you're looking for something that performs beyond the bounds of your active moments, the FuelBand may not fit the bill. Failing with stationary cycling, weight lifting, sleep, and swimming, the FuelBand use-case is virtually limited to running, walking, and physical sports.

Although I found the UP compelling and the FuelBand promising, I'm not quite sure this product is for me.

Nike+ Fuelband Swipes at the Jawbone UP

During the course of CES, I was curious to see if any new health and fitness tracking devices might emerge in competition with the FitBit or the Jawbone UP. Nothing compelling caught my eye.

This morning, however, Nike has announced the Fuelband, a device that takes the initial Jawbone UP bracelet concept, and improves it in almost every way.

With Bluetooth sync, calorie tracking, better visualizations of your data, rewards for achieving goals, a full web interface, the Fuelband addresses virtually all of the criticisms of the Jawbone UP.

The only two gripes I have are the aesthetic appearance, which looks slightly more garish than the unassuming UP, and the cost, $150. I also cannot seem to find a definitive answer regarding its sleep tracking and alarm capabilities, or a lack thereof.

Although I love my Jawbone UP, I often wonder if I'm simply in love with the concept behind it. Keeping track of my activity and sleep, for me, is a great thing. No other device on the market has been able to competently compete with the UP's novel bracelet implementation, thus leaving me with one option.

The Fuelband changes that, and I'll certainly be looking into trying it out.

Gym-Pact Offers Cash Incentives and Penalties To Encourage Gym Attendance

Incidentally, can anyone explain why she's running away from the gym?

Gym-Pact is a new iPhone app that rewards and penalizes its users according to their gym membership.

Users create a "pact" with the service, defining their desired weekly attendance they hope to achieve. The differentiating factor between any other service is that these pacts are backed by your own cash. Each time you miss one of your goals, some of your earned cash is redistributed to other users. Each time you meet your goals, you're rewarded.

Miss a day? Fined. Frequent the gym and surpass your goals? Rewarded.

Simple enough.

Although Gym-Pact is an unquestionably novel idea, it's not anything I'd personally sign up for. Incentives are all well and good, but paying strangers if I have a meeting that runs too long? Not something I'm a fan of.