There is no shortage of glorified pedometers on the market—just put this band around your wrist, the companies tell us, and we can report exactly how much you moved around today (as long as that movement just involves walking). Even better, we’ll upload all the data automatically to your smartphone! But tracking movement doesn’t tell the full story of health. Basis, a sensor-filled watch released in November, integrates biometric data into the traditional health tracking equation for a more accurate picture of your fitness.
Other health trackers like the FitBit often rely solely on accelerometers to measure activity. Basis comes with a three-axis accelerometer as well, but it goes about 10 steps further, utilizing an optical blood flow sensor to keep track of your heart rate, a perspiration monitor, and a skin temperature monitor that also records ambient temperature.
What’s the point of having so many sensors? Basis CEO Jef Holove explains in an interview with MedGadget: "So each of these sensors detects discrete things, which might be valuable to us individually but I think what’s much more important is sort of the next layer of magic which is the algorithms they are running inside the device to interpret and to correlate data coming from multiple sensors. So if we see heart rate is up but the accelerometers are not showing a lot of activity, that might mean something different to us than heart rate is way up and the accelerometers is going crazy and sweat levels are very, very high, right?" The device can sense by your sweat levels and heart rate that you’re on an elliptical trainer, for example, even though the accelerometer isn’t showing much movement (theoretically, at least—we haven’t had the chance to test the device).
Like other fitness trackers before it, Basis offers wearers the opportunity to track their stats via a piece of software (no smartphone apps yet). The device also comes with 10 "healthy habits," or personal goals for the wearer to strive for, like getting up at a consistent time every morning, standing up every hour, and taking a certain amount of steps every day.
There’s just one glaring problem: this thing is sinfully ugly. The Jawbone Up may not be the most attractive device in the world, but it looks like a high-fashion item compared to this hefty watch. If that’s not enough to deter you, you can buy Basis for $199 here. We’re guessing (and hoping) the company will come out with more attractive versions of the product down the line.