Almost one year after their launch (announcement) at CES 2012 and just before CES 2013 we finally received two of the first Basis B1 bands. I have been wearing one for a week now so it’s time to share some insights.
The wristband comes in a small box that contains the Basis B1, a USB-dongle for charging and syncing and a small quick-start booklet. Getting starting is pretty straight forward. You create an account on their website, you download and install the sync application, you charge the B1 and you are good to go.
The display is easy to read. There are four tiny buttons to navigate through the measured items (heart rate, calories and steps) and switch to time and date. At the bottom of the screen you will find a bar that indicates the level of your daily goal in steps.
I had not been wearing a watch or any sort of wristband for many years and even though the band is bigger than a normal watch and the material plastic instead of, for instance, quality leather, it wears comfortable.
Charging is a little inconvenient. It takes some time to charge the device and I want to collect data 24/7. My solution is charging whilst sitting behind my laptop. That works, as long as you don’t forget it when you walk away from your desk. I already pulled my laptop from it once.
The battery itself will last a few days.
The design of the B1 is, well, eighties. I constantly feel the urge to move my wrist to my mouth and say “KITT, get me out of here”. It’s big, plastic, and I am not sure where the advertised “sleek and stylish” come from but hey, beauty comes from within as this wristband is packed with rather nice technology.
The Basis B1 tracks the following: Activity (steps), heart rate, skin temperature and perspiration. Next to that, it calculates calories burned and deducts the hours of sleep. All data is synced via a USB-dongle (the promised Bluetooth option is not there yet) and displayed in an extensive online dashboard.
There are three main dashboards: My Habits, Insights and Data. My Habits is the awareness / gamified part of the dashboard. You can set up certain goals like “regular rising”, “get more sleep” or “don’t be a sitter” and earn points for reaching these goals. Personally this did not really work for me as it was unclear to me what I could do with the points and what they really meant. But, for getting more specific data on your personal habits it might be interesting. So I am going to set-up some goals after all to see how I like this feature.
The Insights dashboard is more interesting. Here you get a nice summary of all activities and metrics. I found myself checking this everyday.
But the most interesting dashboard is the Data-dashboard. It consists out of two sub menu’s: Patterns and Details. Under Patterns you will find a color scheme with a block per hour. Each block can have a different color indicating the intensity.
Under Data you get all the data in one graph that allows you to cross reference two metrics. So you can view your heart rate against the steps you have taken or your steps against your perspiration. Next to that there is a bar at the bottom indicating if you were awake, asleep, active or whether there was no data for that particular time frame.
Since I never measured all of these things apart from steps with my Fitbit, it’s very interesting to see for instance how your heart rate develops during your sleep and how your perspiration develops during the night.
Talking about the Fitbit, here is something that we will keep on seeing around tracking devices and app: different outcomes. Since there is no standardisation (yet) for things like steps the data is rather incomparable.
In order to get the data in the dashboard, you have to connect the Basis with your computer through a USB-dongle. This part is not working too well (yet). During setup I got at least three error windows before the device was recognized by my Macbook Pro. The Sony Vaio of co-founder Niels still does not see the B1 so he has to use the computer of his daughter. Also after the setup I had many sync errors and a few times the device was seen as “new” which triggered the setup process.
To sum it all up, I believe the basis introduces a next generation in continuous tracking devices. Sure, it’s not perfect yet and can argue about the design, but it’s the first continuous heart rate monitor that you can wear in a normal way and is affordable too. I reckon next versions will be much better and once the API is ready we will see some nice integrations with other services and devices that will create even more insights.
Biking is not seen as an activity. Being Dutch, I do spend sometime on a bike every day. You can tell it from the spike in the heart beat, but not from the activity meter.