Jawbone Up 'not a fitness product'

Jawbone's new Up wristband is not a fitness product but a wellness product

Jawbone's new Up wristband, a device that tracks your movement, sleeping patterns and eating habits, should not be classified as a fitness product but a wellness product, according to the company.

Announcing Jawbone's plans to launch the Up wristband in Australia next month, the company's Head of International Partner & Product Development, Jorgen Nordin, said the Up was primarily developed to address lifestyle issues.

"The drive of wanting to be better has accelerated over the last couple of years and that has to do with lifestyle decisions and how lifestyle decisions are affecting us," he explained. "Things like high blood pressure and diabetes and obesity and these things have accelerated to the extent that they are now starting to be a problem."

"In order to measure and to start to get better and to try and address the intention of getting better, you have to have a baseline where you start. We wanted to create a system to help you address all of these things and measure all of these things in a frictionless way."

The Jawbone Up wristband.
The Jawbone Up wristband.

The Jawbone Up wristband uses a range of built-in sensors to measure movement and sleep and also allows users to log food intake and moods by using a dedicated smartphone application for iOS and selected Android devices.

Jawbone says it registered over 100 patents for the Up, which went through 46 weeks of user trials and over 2.9m hours of real world testing before being released for the second time.

The company initially launched the Up in the US in December 2011 before withdrawing the product from the shelves and offering refunds or replacements to users due to severe defects. "We've been spending the last year fixing issues with the previous version," said Nordin.

The second iteration of the Up remains a "24/7 product" that has been designed to be worn at all times. It is water resistant but not completely waterproof, so can be used in the shower but can't be taken swimming, for example.

The available colours of the Jawbone Up wristband.
The available colours of the Jawbone Up wristband.

"In order for the sensor to make sense, you have to wear it," explained Nordin. "It has to be on your wrist all the time, it has to be a 24/7 product, it has to be comfortable, it has to disappear into your life so you don't think about it. It needs to sit there and just gather data."

"We set our design bar very high. This has to be a product that you would want to wear anyway, even if it wasn't doing anything. That's how cool and easy to wear it has to be. So, we also think of it as something that could be a detail of self-expression, or a natural part of a user. We like to think about these things as functional jewellery."

The Up band comes in three sizes (small, medium and large) and will initially be available in Australia in three colours (onyx black, mint green and blue). A further five colours including light grey, navy blue, red, orange and hunter green, will be released Down Under in the coming months.

Jawbone says the Up has a built-in battery that will last for 10 days when charged for 80 minutes, while the band syncs with an iPhone or selected Android phones by removing the cap and plugging the device into the phone's headphone jack.

Nordin says Jawbone will eventually aim to support all mobile platforms, but only iOS and Android are compatible with the Up at launch. The Up app will only work with selected Android phones, a full list of which can be found on the company's website.

In addition to movement, sleep and food tracking, the Up also includes a smart alarm that vibrates to wake the user at an "optimal time" based on sleep patterns, an idle alert that can be set to vibrate when the user is inactive for a certain period of time, a power nap function that will suggest a short sleep during the day and a stopwatch function that can log addition activities like sport.

The Jawbone Up will retail for $149.99 and will be initially available through Apple online, selected Telstra stores, Telstra online and Optus stores from Saturday 20th April.