Jawbone experience

I wore a jawbone up bracelet for 22 days: 1 week during our holidays in Berlin and 2 typical weeks in Edinburgh.
I am not so interested in the results. One easy observation I can make on it (but it is not a surprise, as luckily I am aware when I exercise or not): I walked 4 times more in holidays and I am mostly seating working at my computer while I am in Edinburgh.

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What I am interested in is my experience and relation to the bracelet. Something I regret is that I haven’t taken note of when I was uploading my data into the app. It would have been interesting to see the evolution visually and not only rely on my memory.
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The app is presented like this:

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You can have the detail of your activity for a day, or the quality of your night. It gives you how much you woke up or the length of your light and deep sleep.
On the summary page you can navigate to see the different days and select the one you are interested in to get the details described above. Moreover, you get the overview of the day and night with some advices or suggestion for new goals (picture on the left).
I wanted to experience this new ‘quantified self’ way of living. My questions where: is it going to modify my behaviours (maybe I will start to do sport again… it is unlikely)? Is it going to make me realise something I am not aware of ? Am I going to be addicted to know how much I walk, and sleep? Is it going to be the first thing I do when I woke up in the morning ?
First the addicted effect: I didn’t get addicted. If I recall the times I uploaded the data it was approximately: the 3 first days 3 times: 1 in the morning, 1 in the afternoon, 1 at night; then for 3 following days it was around 2 times; the next week was only 1 time a day and for the final week it was every 2 or 3 days. One thing to mention is that in addition to manually plug the bracelet to your phone to upload the result, you also have to clic on a button at night and morning when you want to swap the bracelet between the night and day mode. The final week I completely forgot to do it. The result was I got some error on the Wednesday 11 at night.
The curiosity make you check at first to put number on something you already aware of (if you were walking or not, or if you had a terrible night). And because I started during holidays, it was fun to know how many km we were doing in a day. But it was the only advantage for me. It is something I could have done with a pedometer and which doesn’t require this technology.
We compared the result of the distance between a new iPhone which have the same functions and the jawbone app. It was quite similar, which means it might be accurate (to a certain extent).
For sleep it was interesting at first to see the different phases of light and deal sleep. However I have some doubt on the accuracy of the results. I knew that some night I need quite a lot of time to fall a sleep, but according to the app I needed only 20min. Is it because I was quite static ? Not sure how to explain it.
Second does it make a change: I didn’t change my behaviours. It is not because my phone is telling me that I am not walking enough that I will start changing radically the way I live my days. I know that it could be bad for my health to seat all day (with a bad posture in addition) but I feel ok in my body for now; I can still walk 18km in a day without feeling sore few day in raw like we did in Berlin. I believe that my body will warn me if I need a healthier life, and my phone is not the solution for making a change.

All of these analysis are only my voice. It is not because it didn’t work for me that it can not help other people. It is increasingly popular, it means people are interesting in it.
The term “quantified self” was coined in 2007 by Gary Wolf and Kevin Kelly, editors of “Wired magazine”, who created the site of the same name. Formerly reserved for sportspeople, diabetics or people who needed to monitor their blood pressure, the quantified self movement has become more democratic in recent years with the miniaturisation of electronic chips and the wider availability of intelligent devices such as smartphones. The goals can be “to “achieve a better life balance”, improve health, sport training like a professional…
However, self tracking can go too far. Georges Conne, a GP working in Bussigny-près- Lausanne, believes that this practice could give rise to unnecessary anxiety. He set out his fears in a column published recently in the Revue médicale suisse. “Unless people are suffering from a chronic illness requiring constant monitoring, such as diabetes, the practice of continuous tracking tends to increase patient anxiety,” he said. “Users collect personal data and then compare it to a standard. Anything above or below the standard is considered to be pathological. But who sets the standard? This is where medical advice is necessary to provide a filter.”

A survey of 3,014 adults living in the United States asking questions on “ Tracking for Health” indicates that seven in ten U.S. adults track a health indicator for themselves or for a loved one. People living with chronic conditions are significantly more likely to track a health indicator or symptom.
19% of U.S. adults reporting no chronic conditions say they track health indicators or symptoms
40% of U.S. adults with 1 condition are trackers
62% of U.S. adults with 2+ conditions are trackers
There were significant differences between the 50% of trackers who record their notes in some organized way, such as on paper or using technology, and the 44% of trackers who keep track solely “in their heads.” We will note the differences in each section that follows. People with more serious health concerns take their tracking more seriously.
46% of trackers say that this activity has changed their overall approach to maintaining their health or the health of someone for whom they provide care.
40% of trackers say it has led them to ask a doctor new questions or to get a second opinion from another doctor.
34% of trackers say it has affected a decision about how to treat an illness or condition.
Tracking has had a more significant impact on people living with chronic conditions

Am sceptical on this new ‘mode’ for people without chronic condition. Is it really the future? It seems that it is what people want. Or is it big multinational company who convince people they need/want ? (see the good article Apple’s Big Plan To Make You Want Things You Don’t Need).

For my personal project, it makes me realise that create an app with will give numerical data about the state of the planet would not be efficient. It is already difficult to change habits when it is for yourself, it would be even harder to do it for something you are not connected with anymore. You might check a first and forget about it 5 minutes later. It make me realise why the data I put at the back of the cards did not work. A physical object displaying in a poetic way some data might have more impact than a graph.

One comment

  1. MarkK says:

    I wore a Jawbone Up for 6 months and a Narrative Clip for a week as a way of experiencing and learning about the technology. In summary I believe that these are Version 0.1 devices and not quite yet ready for release into the world but very interesting and all the same.


    At first the novelty of the Up attracts you and drives you to play with the app and monitor your progress. But soon it starts to niggle and those areas of the design that are unfinished reveal themselves. Physically the the rubberised coating of the device makes it awkward to get clothes on and off while wearing it and it’s presence becomes irritating when typing at a keyboard. Wearing an Up and a watch on the same wrist makes a strong case for merging these two devices into one.

    I tried to verify the accuracy of the step count but the results of my tests left me with little confidence. A recent article casts doubt on the sleep tracking too http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-christopher-winter/sleep-tips_b_4792760.html

    Initially impressed with the Up app over time its limits too became evident. The ability to configure the Up to wake me when I was in light sleep is a great idea but I couldn’t configure it get the maximum sleep and at the same time ensuring I wouldn’t oversleep.

    The Up is an intimate object – you wear it directly on your body but you do not develop an intimate relationship with it. The designers forgot to make it “sticky” like a MacBook (or more likely commercial pressures to get it to market prevented them developing it as far as they wanted to go). The user needs to bond with the Up and develop a love it for it to be successful and not end up, like so many QS devices, in the back of a drawer after 6 months.


    The Narrative Clip is a different experience altogether. While the Up is for you and is mostly invisible the Clip is outward facing and invades the lives of others provoking a range of reactions. At first you are conscious of wearing the Clip but after a while you forget and then the trouble begins. You can find yourself in intimate situations and forget that you are recording everything – remember to take it off when you go to the toilet!

    Many people don’t notice the Clip at all, some spot it are curious but don’t ask and one friend, with a young child, asked me to take it off. This device is not about you, it’s about everyone else.

    Using this device is awkward and alien. There’s no On/Off button and most alarmingly there’s no way to review and delete the images it has captured. All you can do is plug it in, upload and wait for the movie to be downloaded to your smartphone. The company’s cloud service analyses your images, removes duplicates and then gives you the results – eventually. I found it achingly slow and frustrating.

    Ultimately you don’t feel that this is a device for you or one that you can exercise much control over. It feels more like a parasite hoovering up images of those around you for an unseen organisation. The Clip was consigned to the drawer of unused tech after one rather uncomfortable week leaving behind a raft of questions about the future of such devices.

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