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Jawbone’s Newest Gadget, ‘UP': Is It All It’s Cracked Up to Be?

Is it possible for a bracelet to help you live a better life by sleeping better, eating smarter, and moving around more? Most people would be skeptical, but the company Jawbone has created a wristband (it’s called UP) that tracks daily activity and sleep patterns to make you more aware of your daily habits, from exercise to sleep.

Sounds pretty cool, right? I say for $99, it had better be amazing. However, since being released for sale to the public, UP has had many mixed reviews. Some users love the wristband, while others have had multiple problems from the beginning.

Let me tell you a little bit about the physical features of Jawbone’s UP. The exterior is made of steel and rubber, so it’s sweat and water resistant, and there is a covered USB connector on the end for charging the device. There are precision motion sensors on the inside, which track movement and sleep activity, along with a vibration motor to power the silent alarm and reminders. And last is the rechargeable battery that only has to be charged every ten days.

How does UP work and why would it be useful?

Like I said before, UP is intended to help you live a healthier lifestyle and it’s promoted as a social experience. The motion sensors track your daily physical activity and logs it to an app on a “smart device” (it’s compatible with iPhones, iPods, and iPads). You can share your daily activity with friends and family who also have UP. There are options to challenge or compete with others, such as who can walk more steps in a day or who works out more in a week, etc. This is supposed to motivate the healthy behavior by making it a social goal and a fun competition.

UP by Jawbone

UP tracks activity and inactivity for the most accurate results.

The UP wristband also tracks inactivity. When you have been sitting still for more than 15 minutes at a time, the device vibrates to remind you to get up and move around. This would be great in an office setting for those of us who sit at a desk and work all day, and it’s not distracting to others.

UP can also be put in sleep mode to monitor how well you’re sleeping. The motion sensors detect how much you move while sleeping to determine what phase of sleep you’re in and how much sleep you’re actually getting. The device is programed to wake you at a specific time with a gentile vibration while you’re in the lightest phase of sleep.

The product promotes healthy eating with a digital food journal. Users log what they eat daily and give a brief explanation about how they felt after eating said food, and they can also snap a picture of the food before eating it. The data is saved for future reference.

What are some pros and cons concerning UP?

Pros:

  • UP promotes a social and healthy lifestyle.
  • It has a built in vibrating alarm clock and reminder.
  • It’s very gender neutral, and has over 5 colors to choose from.

Cons:

  • The motion sensors only detect arm movement, causing inaccurate readings for most people.
  • If you forget to put it in sleep mode, your data is inaccurate and your daily progress suffers.
  • UP cannot be used without an app, so if you don’t have an Apple smart device, you can’t use it. However, they are currently producing an Android app!

Takeaways from Jawbone and the UP wristband:

Be open to suggestions: When your company develops a new product, be open to suggestions from your customers on how to improve the item. Jawbone has a Community tab on the UP page that allows users to comment on the product by giving suggestion about how to improve UP.

Have product support available: Customers can also leave questions on the community tab for the Jawbone staff, whether they have a simple question about how to use the product or app, or what to do if the product is not working properly. The support team can give the user the appropriate answer or plan of action. If others are having the same problem, they can just read the message board and not have to e-mail someone and wait for an answer.

On a whole, I think UP is a cool and innovative product. It has great features and could be really useful in the right setting. But is it really worth $99? I don’t think so. I think it’s a fad that will fade away and be forgotten about. If I had this device I would probably wear it for a week and get tired of it. I’m sure there are others out there who would love this product, but it’s in the beginning stages of its life, and I think it will be a while before it really reaches its full potential.

How do you feel about UP? Do you really want one now or would you be happier without one? Let us know what you think about Jawbone’s UP in the comments below!

Image credit to Jawbone’s Facebook page. Jawbone and UP are ©2011 by Jawbone. All rights reserved.


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Comments

  1. Jeff Porretto

    Some days getting up is no big deal (refreshing even), and some days it is like the next person to make a loud noise gets the Dexter treatment. So I would LOVE something that wakes me up at the right times. But if it doesn’t work correctly ALL the time, it’s going out the window. I just can’t be woken up at 3:30 for no damn reason.

    Very interesting stuff! Thanks!

    • Jen

      I agree Jeff, I would like to wake up to a soothing vibration, but if it wakes me up at 3am, I’m not going to be happy even if I am in the lightest phase of sleep.

    • Stephanie

      I received the UP24 as a gift for Christmas, and the waking alarm works great. It does not wake you in the middle of the night. There are settings in the app where you can specify exactly what time you want/need to be up in the morning. It gently vibrates around that time (give or take 30 minutes depending on your sleeping pattern) while you aren’t in a deep sleep. When it vibrates, it feels like a tickle, you simply press the button to shut it off. However, turning off the alarm, does not take the band out of sleep mode, you still have to do that once you actually get out of bed. I’ve been using mine for nearly a month now, and this is one of my favorite features.

  2. Alex Brodsky

    Very cool article, Jen. I had no idea anything like this existed.

    And while I do believe this product is good in theory, I agree that it’s not nearly worth $99. I already have a mom and girlfriend to make me feel bad about what I eat and how little I work out (and I don’t have to pay them anything). I’m not quite sure I need to hear it from a bracelet too.

    • Stantz

      Well done, you’ve just sold me on avoiding this product. :D

  3. amy

    Wow! This sounds like a really interesting product, Jen. I think the $99 is a bit steep, but then again I’m sure the technology involved probably eats up a lot of their revenues. I would love to try it for the sleep function, that sounds really interesting. I hate waking up to a blaring alarm clock from a deep sleep :(

  4. Joseph Giorgi

    “This is supposed to motivate healthy behavior by making it a social goal and a fun competition.”

    That’s actually a pretty brilliant concept, and I’m sure many people would enjoy UP for exactly that reason. I’ll admit though: I’m not to keen on the idea of going out of my way to keep track of my daily activity and movement through an app. Of course, I don’t own a smartphone, so UP isn’t really an option for me anyway.

    As far as the price: $99 seems a bit much. For $49, a device like UP would have a much better chance in the marketplace, but at twice that price, the company is obviously banking on their new product being a popular seller this holiday season and then taking off from there. It’s doubtful that Jawbone will be that lucky, but who knows?

    In any case, excellent post, Jen! I love new tech! :)

    • Jill Tooley

      I’m with you, Joe! If UP was $49 instead of $99, I’d definitely buy one to try it out. It sounds awesome! I’m usually skeptical of gadgets like this, but it seems like UP’s features are a lot better than other (similar) ones I’ve seen.

      Jawbone has a commendable community going on this, which is really cool. They seem like they actually care about what their customers are saying/asking. That’s something that many established companies haven’t gotten the hang of yet, so kudos to them for making themselves available to their customers!

      Nice post, and thanks for the rundown on this. I’ll be watching it to see if it comes down in price anytime soon! :)

      • Jen

        I think $49 is much more reasonable for a gadget like this. Good point Joe. :)

        And Jill, it really does seem like they want the feed back from their customers. It looks so convenient to use too, and I always see responses to the questions and concerns people have posted.

  5. Mandy Kilinskis

    I’m glad that Jawbone has a community tab for people to leave comments and suggestions. For an investment of $99, I would hope that they are going to be taking feedback and trying to improve the product. An UP would be neat to have, but I could totally see myself getting bored with it after a week.

    • Jen

      The community tab is great! But just reading some of the comments and questions really makes me think twice about about buying one. A lot of people have had the same problems with it not syncing to their phones or accurately counting their steps. Maybe I will wait until next year to purchase one, and see if it gets better. :)

  6. Stantz

    No thanks, I have a Kinect now. :p

  7. Eric

    I’m a firm believer that – if you really want to maintain a healthy lifestyle, lose weight, etc. – you don’t need the fancy gadgets to do it. This just seems like a lukewarm technological replacement for a physical trainer, which is another step in the direction of finding some external source of motivation. An alarm clock, nutrition journal, and a pedometer do not equal $99. Bottom line? It seems trendy. Trends may get people to try attempting a healthier lifestyle, but most the time, that’s as far as it goes. Jawbone needs to stick to Bluetooth headsets.

    Interesting article, though, Jen. Seems like most folks feel strongly one way or the other with this gadget.

    • Jen

      I totally agree with you, Eric, that it is really cool and trendy, but when it comes down to it, to live a healthy lifestyle you need to have motivation. If you don’t have it, Up will work for a while but you will get tired of it. If you already have it…you probably don’t need Up anyway. Funny how it works.

      I still think it’s a cool alarm clock though. :)

      • Eric

        Haha…you know, if I tried it, and it didn’t scare the living hell out of me waking me up, it may not be a bad idea. I’ve gotten in the habit of rotating through alarm clock sounds on my phone to wake me up, because hearing the same, jarring noise every morning will wear on ya. I remember a morning in college I totally took a cue from the movies and just ripped the thing out of the wall and chucked it across the room. I’ll have to keep up on product reviews and see what people have to say.

  8. Cybernetic SAM

    Oh man, I hate that there are so many brand-specific products out there! Grr! I would totally get one of these but I do not have an Apple phone, nor an Android for that matter. Whatever happened to creating just a basic computer specific device, so just as long as you have a computer, you can have cool stuff too!

  9. Rachel

    I really like the idea of this bracelet, but like others have said, the price point is too high for me to consider buying it right now. I think the way that it alerts you when you’re not moving is the coolest thing; I know I spend waaay too much time at the computer both at work and at home, and a little reminder to get up would be neat. Of course, I could probably do that just by setting an alarm on my phone or something … but still, neat!

    I think the biggest thing you note here is that the motion sensors have been problematic because the bracelet only knows what your arm is doing. Maybe once they improve the technology a little more that could be fixed. But anyway, a very interesting post, Jen! Thanks for the rundown :)

  10. Amanda

    I think this is an interesting idea, but agree with Eric. It’s a trendy item that’s priced too high, I’m guessing it won’t be around for long. But who knows, people love gadgets! Cool post Jen! =)

  11. Steve

    Jen doesn’t seem to understand how UP works. It will not wake you at 3am just b/c you’re in light sleep. You set an alarm and it will wake you within a 30 min prior window to that alarm if you are in a light sleep phase. Otherwise it wakes you at the time of the alarm. I’ve had mine a week and I do like waking up by the vibrating band much better than a noisy alarm, especially b/c it doesn’t wake my girlfriend when I need to wake up earlier than her.

    As for the idle alert. It is off unless you turn it on and does not do off every 15 minutes. I have mine set for 2 hours, but you don’t need it turned on at all.

    Not sure where you got these for $99. Mine was $130 at the Apple Store. The Nike Fuel was $150 there. There was also a third brand for around the same price, which I think is pretty reasonable for such unnecessary gadgets. Considering you need an IPhone or IPad to run it, I’m surprised anybody would complain about $100!

    I’m still very skeptical about how accurately it can really track calories and sleep, but so far it has seemed pretty good. My guess would be that it can’t be extremely accurate, but is at least good motivation and makes you more conscious of how much you’re moving, eating, sleeping, etc. We’ll see how long I stick with it!

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Hi, Steve!

      Thanks for taking the time to leave us a comment. And thank you for the updated info! This blog post is a little older and Jen doesn’t write blog posts for us anymore. So we really appreciate you leaving some updated information for us.

      Good luck with your UP – let us know how it works. :)

      Mandy

  12. DeDe

    Hi, All.

    My husband and I bought the Jawbone Up wristbands and found they were not compatible with our 4LG phones. Bummer. However, we had planned to buy each other an iPad for our birthdays, so we got the iPads and the wristbands. We have been using them since March and are totally enthused with the product. You have to understand that at 60+, this is a great way to measure your activity for the day. By the end of the day, most days, I have put in 8500+ steps and need to work on that some. For my husband, around 3500+ steps per day. The sleep measure appears to be very accurate, especially the number of times you wake up. We have 2 chihuahuas that think they need to get up at least once every night……and the wristband measures that! We have found that we are striving more to eat right and get in more steps and sleep per day. Our bands cost $130 each and we feel this is a worthwhile investment for us. My sister and her husband are also thinking of getting the bands. I would venture to say the bands are very accurate too since we keep up with the information by other means for comparison. For us seniors, these are fantastic motivators!! Well done, Jawbone.

  13. Catherine

    I got my UP about 2 weeks ago and love it! I’m already a fitness enthusiast and try to stay active during today. Sometimes I’m surprised to see how few steps I’ve taken on days I’m tied up in meetings, so the UP gets me moving more to help me meet my step goals. I sync it twice a day: mid morning and before bed, And enjoy seeing the stats. The graphs are attractive and easy to read. It’s also great to know its water resistant so I don’t have to worry about sweat damaging it. I work in health promotion, so I am happy to have experience with this product so I can recommend it to others who are interested in self monitoring.

  14. Janet

    I’ve had the UP band for a few weeks now and your “pros” and “cons” are spot on. If you carry a purse or any item (groceries, etc.) on the arm that hosts the UP band, readings will not be accurate, so I’ve had to be aware of that. Your arm needs to be miving or swinging. I’ve gotten up in the middle of the night, walked around and the device didn’t even track that I was awake.

    On the other hand, seeing it on my wrist, knowing it’s tracking something, reminds me to increase my activity each day. And it reminds me each night to get more sleep. Plus each day, it offers health tips and suggestions. Those three things alone have been worth the money.

  15. Carol

    I’ve been using up for about a month. I’m 59. I have terrible sleep problems, that why I got the up. I love finding out what it says in the AM. I found on days I really laugh, I sleep better.

    As for the movements, I too find that interesting.

    I give the is 5*****s and highly recommend it. I do not think the price is high given all it does.
    Go on ebay, get it for less
    Carol

  16. Mike

    $99 is a great price if you use the features. I notice that most people that complain about the price do not have an UP so I’m not sure their criticism is valid. How can you know an item is worth $99 if you don’t try it? Clearly, Jen just tested it and has likely not utilized it to its full potential.

    UP syncs with other apps like My Fitness Pal and Map My Run. UP takes data from those sources to compile an holistic evaluation of your lifestyle. I find it extremely helpful!

    I track everything I eat and I track my runs and other workouts. UP just brings it all together so I better maintain my healthy life. I can certainly understand that people who do not meticulously watch their diet and exercise would find $99 too high of a price to pay and even wonder if the gadget will work. It works for me so…I like it and the price is fine.

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