Being as chiseled as I am is tough. You have to eat right (brownies only every other day), exercise (take the stairs to the attic), and keep tabs on things like your heart rate and body temperature while playing Sim City. That’s why the Basis is one of the best “general purpose” body monitors I’ve seen. The band, which senses your blood flow, body temperature, and perspiration along with steps and motion, is a small, discreet watch-like system that works surprisingly well as a standard pedometer but offers a way to break bad habits and make new ones.
I’m a longtime fan of quantified health devices for the simple reason that they offer immediate feedback on my current activity level and health. I’ve been using Fitbits for as long as they’ve been available and I’ve managed to lose 20 pounds by keeping my activity up and not eating like a slob. The Basis is different in that it offers the same features as a Fitbit but with a few improvements. For example, on the bottom of the watch there is an optical BPM heart sensor as well as leads for perspiration sensing and temperature. Because it is a watch you can wear the device overnight and monitor your sleep habits as well.
The device itself is about one inch on each side with an integrated rubber band. Four spots in the corners activate various features and there’s a central button that is not yet activated in this incarnation of the device. Pressing the right buttons displays steps take, calories, and current heart rate and you can activate the clock or data by pressing the left “buttons.” A sensor turns on the backlight when you move the watch towards your face (this happens intermittently but it works in principle) and you can also turn on the backlight by pressing the left touch button.
As a watch, the Basis is fairly basic and I’d even say sub-par. You can tell the time and the date, but traditional sports functions are missing. Viewing it in low or bright light is difficult and the backlight pops on for a mere five seconds, giving you just enough time to forget what time it is. It lasts about five days on one charge and connects to your computer or charger via a sort of USB-powered “frame” that connects to the watch body. It’s a bit cumbersome but it improves the water-fastness of the watch.
The real magic happens on the back end. The Basis watch syncs with MyBasis.com, a dedicated website for the device, as well as a forthcoming mobile apps for Android and iOS. It is here that the Basis shines – and confuses.
Basis uses the concept of “habits” to motivate you to get off your duff. Some of the habits are simple – one asks you to simply wear the watch – while others encourage you do take a certain number of steps a day or spend a certain amount of time sleeping. You unlock various habits by completing challenges over time and you begin with only a few possible “goals” during your initial set up.
This system is both ingenious and frustrating. While open-ended health devices like Fitbit and the Jawbone Up reward you after you’ve completed a certain number of steps with an email or notification, the Basis forces you through a set of gamified steps to gain your “reward.” It encourages you to visit the website often and unlock new rewards but the rewards themselves are so open-ended that it’s difficult to remember some of them. Unfortunately, the Basis band won’t remind you and the only indication that you’ve hit a certain step count is a little winner’s cup icon at the end of the readout. A bit more info – “You completed the Sleep For Eight Hours Challenge” – would be immensely helpful.
The system also offers a number of interesting graphs including comparative activity and “heat graphs” of your various vital statistics. You can, for example, see when you tend to sweat the most (I found sweat when I eat) and when you tend to wake up. “Insights” offer little snippets of information about your day including sleep quality and the like.
Being a watch nerd I usually wear the Basis on my right hand and a real watch on my left. Because the watch is fairly small and dark it looks more like a Fuel Band or an Up than a Timex. I think that depending on this watch as a daily wearer would get immensely frustrating and I wouldn’t recommend it.
However, as a window on your body it is superior even to my beloved Fitbit and I’d say it’s even better than the Up. Simply having my heart rate available at all times is a valuable bit of data and the step counter is as accurate as the Fitbit in most situations. The Basis is obviously bigger and more conspicuous than other devices, but the battery life and form factor make it a slightly superior choice if you’re willing to wear it on your wrist all the time.
The market for quantified health devices is definitely huge and entrants like Basis keep pushing the envelope further and further. The B1 seems like a strong first try, and the company expects to release firmware upgrades that will add more functionality to the watch over the next few months. The ability to pair the watch with a mobile app is also a much-needed addition as the syncing system is a bit wonky via USB.
For $199, I think this band gives most any other health device a definite run for its money and I’d even recommend the Basis over more complex offerings by Suunto and Polar. Rather than making a kitchen-sink sports watch, Basis has produced a cool, streamlined monitoring device that is, for the first time in the space, eminently usable and promises some interesting potential.
See the rest here: The Basis B1 Fitness Band Is Amazing But Still Needs Polish
In today’s Daily Dose we look into a case involving forced RFID tagging, Mozilla’s big Windows choice, and a key executive loss at Nokia.
You can catch The Daily Dose every Monday through Friday right here on The Next Web. Be sure to hit the subscription button of your choice below to get The Daily Dose as soon as it’s available.
Follow this link: TNW’s Daily Dose: RFID tags, 64 bit Firefox, and Nokia’s loss
How’s Your News began 15 years ago when a set of developmentally disabled adults hopped on a bus and travelled around the country interviewing folks on the street. The mixture of charm, astuteness, and fascination with the little things that these reporters exhibited has always been great fun and their work is a real tonic in this age of blowhards blowing hard at each other.
The team recently visited both the DNC and RNC and interviewed a number of politicians, celebrities, and delegates. The result is called Election 2012 and is available now. The best thing? The team went the route of Jim Gaffigan and Louis CK and released the video as a $5 download right from their site.
Payable via Paypal and Amazon, $5 gets you 5 streams or SD/HD downloads. The video is available in 720p resolution. The creators ask that you don’t, you know, pirate a movie by folks who wear their hearts on their sleeves and are so charming and I wish more journalists followed their lead. So don’t pirate it.
Here’s hoping this is one of their most profitable films yet.
Since launching its first product in 2008, Beats has gone from an obscure niche headphone brand to a multi-million dollar business with plenty of star power (Dr. Dre, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, etc.) catapulting the brand into the mainstream spawning several celebrity and musician endorsed rival brands. Now it’s going after an older crowd with the Executive over-the-ear headphones, which I’ve been testing for the last few days.
Originally partnered with Monster, the company has since detached itself from the audio manufacturer, had the majority of the company acquired (51 percent) by HTC, acquired music service MOG, and then regained 25 percent of HTC’s shares back this past July. It’s also had its brand name attached to HP laptops and HTC smartphones.
While the company has tapped into the youth of this country, it hasn’t quite gained traction with the folks whose annual incomes are, well, significantly higher than a 17-year-old’s. It’s unclear why Beats is going in this particular direction given that the “b” brand can be seen just about everywhere you look.
Maybe it has something to do with Monster now marketing its own line of headphones geared towards an older demo. Or the fact that the Beats brand commands over 60 percent of the over $100 headphone market in the U.S. I guess a $1 billion industry is worth protecting.
“If you look at the category right now, almost all the competing products are made of plastic. We’re bringing craftsmanship and premium materials, such as aluminum alloy, stainless steel, and hand-stitched leather,” Luke Wood, president and COO of Beats, told me. “Beats has fans of every age, but we wanted to build the Executive for the business traveller who doesn’t necessarily feel comfortable wearing bright green headphones on the plane.”
Other than looks and what I assume are subtle changes to the audio components under the hood, the Executives appear to be built on the same platform as the original Beats by Dr. Dre headphones, including the use of regular AAA batteries to power the active noise-cancelling functionality. And just like the originals, the Executives won’t work when those batteries die. Pretty annoying in my opinion for a $300 pair of headphones but maybe I’ve grown accustomed to all my doodads having rechargeable batteries.
The Executives are said to last upwards of 25 hours per set of batteries. So far I’ve logged several thousand miles (SFO>JFK>ICN) and roughly 15 hours with the included batteries. The noise-cancellation function can be muted by depressing the “b” icon on the right earcup. Batteries are deposited into the left earcup by popping off the cover, which is tethered by a string and kept in place with magnets. A nice touch overall and they definitely feel premium.
When asked why the core feature still relies on standard batteries, Wood had this to say: “Our research of this particular use case shows the consumer preference is split in regards to rechargeable and disposable batteries. Keeping the demographic in mind for this product, there is anxiety around forgetting to charge your batteries and getting on the plane for a business trip to find they’re dead and there’s no time or place to charge. Many people would rather just bring a spare set of batteries than risk being stranded on a flight with no sound. With that said, as our products continue to evolve we will consider the technology that makes the most sense as well as sustainability issues.”
Regardless of whether I think that a $300 pair of headphones should function sans batteries, the Executives are really comfortable (it’s worth noting that I wear glasses and find it annoying to wear over-the-ears) and offer a less bass-y sound than previous models. Even with the noise cancellation or because of it, you really have to crank up the volume to hear your tunes. The low end seems a bit muddled and when cranked up all the way up it just sounds a bit fuzzy. Albeit ever so slightly.
They’ll be available in mid-October and come with a carrying case, cleaning cloth, two adapters and two sets of audio cables, including one for use with your phone.
Since the dissolution of its partnership with Monster on July 1, Wood says the Executives are “an example of what’s to come” from the now free-standing company.
CakeStyle, a startup that delivers stylist-curated shipments of women’s fashion, announced that it has raised $1 million in seed funding.
Yes, CakeStyle is yet part of the growing wave of “subscribe to Box X” businesses, but with a personal touch. The company asks customers to provide “some basic information about what you currently wear, what you’d like to wear and your sizing” (either via email or phone). Then its stylists handpick a seasonal shipment of clothing and accessories from the company’s inventory, and they also include a video explaining the choices. Once the selection has arrived at your door, you can send back anything you don’t like, and you only pay for what you keep.
Customers can also meet stylists in person at the company’s showroom in Chicago’s River North neighborhood.
CakeStyle was founded in August 2011, and TechCrunch’s Leena Rao wrote about it a few months later. Leena said she enjoys shopping too much to embrace a service like this, but it could be a good fit for women who aren’t interested in or don’t have time to visit stores and keep on the latest fashions. CakeStyle has also been compared to Trunk Club, a startup providing a similar service for men. (Like CakeStyle, Trunk Club is based in Chicago.)
The new funding comes from Sandbox Industries’ Sandbox Advantage Fund. CakeStyle says the money will be used to increase brand awareness and bring its service “to more women across the country.”