I took delivery this week of my new Withings’ “Pulse” device. This small device that sits on a belt holder or on a wrist band (a flat, wider watch) and it monitors heart rate, sleep and activity levels. I purchased the device since I already use the Withing’s blood pressure monitor, and I have been using the vendors’ iPhone application to monitor weight (and BP and hear rate). The UI is first rate and easy to use – with nice, flexible graphs.
For the last three months I have been an avid user of Jawbone Up. This wrist band also monitors sleep and activity levels, and the corresponding application tracks this data and allows me to add food and calorific intake easily. I had used a Jawbone Up device back in March but it had proven faulty after 4 weeks of collecting data. The vendor was quick to replace it – though they used the slowest delivery method possible and I had to wait nearly 10 days for the replacement. This somewhat tarnished the initially quick response to accept responsibility and offer a free replacement.
I actually thought that the Jawbone Up was the one for me – until Withings released its Pulse. The promise of a “unified platform” (does that sound like an ERP sales man?) sounded pretty compelling. So for the last week I have been using both devices. The experience is somewhat interesting.
- Withings “ERP” approach: It isn’t there. It turns out that the small print tells me that I need another application (i.e. different vendor) for the food and calorific monitoring. Thus on one app/device I monitor “adding calories” and I need another for “spending calories”. I cannot see in one place the net change. So I had to keep using my Jawbone Up. In other words, the promise of ERP is great, but very hard to do. Best of Breed remains “in”
- Jawbone Up v Withings Pulse: Oddly, the two devices report different data for the same activity. After a nights’ sleep, both devices report different mixes of deep and light sleep. For example, last night was a short night (I am, after all, in the middle of a 2-week briefing cycle with vendors in support of a Magic Quadrant) and after I woke, before breakfast, I walked the dog around the block (my “loop” where I live). Here are the findings:
- Jawbone Up: I still liked its UI and capability for tracking calorific intake. However its graphing capabilities are poor. It’s like looking at a green screen fixed inside a Windows UI. Instead of showing me two, fixed bar’s, allow me to graph ALL the data and let me scroll down the set – not pick which two I want to see in the fixed window.
- Sleep data: total sleep 5.21 hours of which 1.55 was light sleep and 3.25 was deep
- Activity steps: 1,039
- Sleep data: total sleep 6.01 hours of which 3.49 was light and 2.12 was deep
- Activity steps: 1,160
Last night was not typical sleep-wise. Being very tired, I am imaging I could have been restless or laying very still- but not necessarily getting that healthy sleep. However I work feeling tired, so I felt the Withings was probably more accurate. But if I look back to Sunday this week, it was a more regular 8 hour night and the data was still as different.
The activity different looks small – but this was the first 20 minutes of the day. By the end of the day, I get very different results – Pulse at over 8,000 steps and Jawbone Up around 6.000. That is significant.
So I am not sure which “quantified self” is the real me. Maybe I need to understand how the devices work so I can make a judgment call as to which one I trust most. Any thoughts?
By the way, I have tried Zeo in the past. This has great graphics (for sleep monitoring) but wearing a head band was a big goofy so that didn’t work long. It might be that Zeo was more accurate than either Jawbone Up or Withings – based on its proximity to my brain! My wife also tried BodyMedia – that was a larger flat arm band (or pocket/strap based unit). This was more oriented to online analysis than smart phone so that didn’t work either. I also had tried another arm band-based sleep monitor last year. I forget the name, but it was updated too often by the vendor I gave up. I wanted to try the Basis watch but that vendor seems way too quite and is not even responding to emails. Either way, I can’t wait to see what my doctor says when I turn up for my next check-up!
It’s a fascinating program- tracking ones’ own health data. In the next few years, it will be interesting to see how the healthcare industry initially uses the data provided, and perhaps then takes ownership of the channels and devices in the market.
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