November 14, 2012

Jawbone Tries Do Over With UP Fitness Band

The Jawbone UP fitness band, which was meant to help wearers monitor their daily activity, became little more than an expensive bracelet when the technology inside failed. The company ultimately took the wearable fitness monitor off the market and offered refunds to anyone who bought one.

So bad was the problem that Jawbone CEO Hosain Rahman issued an apology to some UP owners. That could have been the end of the story, but surprisingly Jawbone didn’t give up on the UP.

The company re-thought the concept, re-architected the design and re-engineered the technology. The Bay Area-start-up reportedly conducted 46 weeks of user tests and trials to ensure that the new version wouldn’t need an apology. The UP is back.

Priced at $129.99 the new fitness monitor is available for preorder, and the company promises that the underlying problems have been resolved. The biggest issues according to the company were the even a small amount of water could cause big problems to the circuit board, while regular use that meant bending the device could cause some damage. Both issues are reportedly been solved.

The new band thus looks the same, but should have improved water resistance and better circuit-board pliancy. Those two factors should mean that the device can better hold a charge and be flexible while still protecting the components inside from damage. The new UP reportedly exceeds the IPX5, IPX6 and IPX7 industry standards for watches, which takes into account water temperature. As for being rugged, Jawbone created its own internal rugged standard that is reportedly more grueling than existing international standards such as IP67 or even the MIL-STD-810, which was created by the U.S. military.

The new version of the bracelet will come in eight colors (Onyx, Mint Green, Light Grey, Blue, Navy Blue, Red, Orange and Hunter Green), and is available in three sizes (small, medium and large). As with the former version, this new model is meant to be worn both during the day and at night while sleeping. It retains the original concept, which is to track movements, count steps taken during the day and in essence try to estimate the number of calories burned. At night it uses a motion sensor to track the amount of time the wearer sleeps and further determine the amount of deep versus light sleep.

The UP still relies on an iOS app, but that too has reportedly been improved, with new features including a bar-code scanner for inputting meals, and even a power-nap setting that will let the wear get up to 27-minutes of light winks before the alarm goes off. The app will also push updates now, suggesting that it is time to take a walk. Additionally, users can input activity – such as a bike ride or swim – into the app for added tracking.

Since the time of the UP’s debut other companies including Nike have introduced their own respective activity-tracking wristband, while Lark, maker of a wearable sleep sensor has also announced its own app-supported wristband.

While the $129.99 price point of the UP is lower from the Nike+ FuelBand or Larklife bands, which cost $150, the question is how much can the market support. In the end it might be “up” to consumers to decide.

Image Credit: Jawbone

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Peter Suciu is a freelance writer and has covered consumer electronics, technology, electronic entertainment and the fitness sports industry for more than 15 years. In that time his work has appeared in more than three dozen publications including Newsweek, PC Magazine and Wired. His work has also appeared on Forbes.com, Inc.com, Cnet.com, and Fortune.com. Peter is a regular writer for redOrbit.com.

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