My 365th day of wearing the Jawbone UP band—which tracks daily steps as well as nightly sleep—recently passed without the band noticing that we celebrated our one-year anniversary. Having just gotten around to watching the fantastic movie Her, I have to say my feelings were hurt—though perhaps I missed the motivational message in the blizzard of stuff that clutters my e-mailbox (the UP app is usually good at sending out performance roundups and motivational messages).
No matter. A year in, I figure I've met the 10K daily goal more than 330 times, which included around 1,400 miles of running, and that's a LOT more than I would have done without the band. The turnaround came just in time: As noted in a previous blog, my move to car-centric Birmingham, Alabama, three years ago had resulted in a shocking reduction in "natural" everyday walking. Without realizing it, I now started my day with a huge exercise deficit that had to be made up with conscious stepping out. No doubt that's one reason I had put on weight. Fighting the step deficit is where the UP band came in. As often as I wanted to, I could see my step count, and act on it.
I don't mean to attribute success solely to the band: It's a little Wi-Fi pedometer gizmo that happens to be networked with a group of friends and colleagues who made a mutual vow to get off their respective butts and lose some weight doing it. That social connection is, we feel, the most powerful part of the new exercise equation.
The future of wearable tech looks promising, but it's hard to predict. Discreet devices like the UP band will battle with multitasking machines like smartphones, which can already count steps while warehousing a whole life's worth of apps. You have to wonder if smart watches might deal a blow to single-purpose tech as well. But that's for the market to decide. Right now, I recommend the UP band to anyone who has $130 to spare and needs the kick in the butt that I needed.
Disclosure: Jawbone supplied our team with free UP bands—and with replacements when the bands failed. Early on, reliability was a problem. Lately, new versions seem much more reliable, though the devices are more fragile than initially promised.