“Up”-grading to a healthier lifestyle

“Up” by developer Jawbone is part iPhone app, part sensory wristband. “Up” helps users track their overall health. It does this by using a number of sensors built into the wristband, as well as user-inputted data. Jawbone hopes that the $99 app and periphery wristband will improve users’ standards of life.

This iPhone app comes with a wristband. Photo from Creative Commons.

“Up” targets three different lifestyle components to help users achieve a healthier lifestyle. The areas it targets are movement, eating and sleeping. The app focuses on these three components using a combination of sensors and user input.

Movement is monitored through the wristband using a precise motion sensor along with the device’s GPS. The motion sensor determines when users have been sedentary for too long. Users can set the time intervals for when the wristband notifies users that they have been motionless for too long. This provides users with a built-in reminder to keep moving. The GPS access allows the app to determine how many miles the user has moved that day and design challenges around distances walked or run in a set period of time. These challenges can be put on the “Up” community, giving users added motivation.

Along with its ability to track its users movements, “Up” also monitors the sleep cycle of its users. Not only does the app watch for when a user sleeps, it also keeps an eye on the quality of sleep users are getting. The wristband also has the ability to wake users by vibrating against their wrist to let them know it is the best time to get up during their sleep cycle, attempting to ensure the user gets a full night of sleep. All the sleep information data is displayed in a simple bar graph for users to read upon waking from their device.

The wristband can’t do everything though. Users are responsible for tracking their own meals. Users do this by inputting pictures into their food diaries. The app asks users after each entry how they feel after a meal. This allows the app to slowly discover which food makes the individual feel best, and also allows the app to provide food suggestions.

“Up” also comes with a support community. The support community issues challenges to “Up” users to motivate them to keep an eye on their health. Many of the challenges appear to be attempts to get users to start healthy habits. These challenges also provide users with some fun, healthy competition.

While certainly innovative, it’s not the first app periphery combination to do that. The $99 “Fitbit” provides similar services. The main difference between “Fitbit” and “Up” is how they’re worn. “Up” is a wristband and “Fitbit” works as a clip-like device that can be worn under clothing or put in a pocket. Either app seems like an interesting option to help people to monitor and learn about their overall health. It will be interesting to see if similar apps come out in the coming years.