More than an activity monitor, Basis watch wants to change your life

Basis, health monitor

Exercise nuts and data fiends are getting plenty of new mobile gadgets to track their movements and motivate them to better health. But the most sensor-packed competitor is now ready to hit the market.

Basis, activity monitorBasis, an activity and health tracking watch, is finally launching for $199, offering four different types of sensors to monitor a user’s activity and vital signs. In addition to a three-axis accelerometer, Basis offers an optical heart rate monitor, a galvanic skin response sensor that measures a user’s sweat and a temperature sensor, which gauges both ambient and body temperature.

It’s going up against a number of devices, from the Jawbone Up and FitBit Zip and One trackers, to the Nike Fuel Band, the Striiv gamified pedometer and Motorola’s MotoActv watch. Most of those devices, however, rely primarily on accelerometers to measure footsteps, activity and calories burned. Basis can do that but it can also provide a sense of how a person is doing physiologically. It’s not just to rack up more data. Basis can tell which activities are actually causing a user to break a sweat or raise their temperature. And it can see how well a person’s heart rate is handling different types of exercise.

Basis, activity monitorWhile the sensors are important for gathering data, Basis believes its software is how it will actually change people’s lives. The company postponed the planned early 2012 launch of Basis to refine the software experience, so it can be used to actually change long-term behavior.

Now, users can pick certain habits they want to adopt such as hitting a certain number of daily steps or getting a certain amount of sleep and Basis’ dashboard helps them move toward their goal. The system will give points when a user hits their goal in a week and then will raise the targets for the next week. If a user falls behind, Basis’ dashboard knows to lower the goals, to get users back on the wagon.

“This is about taking small steps and trying to make something a habit,” said Basis CEO Jef Holove. “We can work with and then tune toward their goals based on how they’re living their lives.”

Users who want to deep dive into more personal data can also see plenty of charts and graphs that can show hour-by-hour activity. Or they can back out and see larger trends from a week-long perspective.

Basis, activity monitorThe software and coaching is included in the price of the Basis Watch. Mobile apps are coming in the new year for iOS and Android, which will allow users to check on the progress while out and about. The watch will use Bluetooth 2.1 to send data to a mobile device. It will be available for sale on the Basis website.

Holove said future monetization plans include potentially charging for additional accessories like wristbands or upselling users on more advanced cloud services that could offer better analytics or more data storage. We’ll be testing out the device to see if it really lives up to its promise. I’ll be interested to see how well it performs in the real world and whether the extra sensors actually deliver good data. But if it works, it’s a great package getting all that into an easy-to-wear watch. Some of the problem with many of these monitors is just ensuring that you have it with you at all times.

Basis raised $9 million last year from Norwest Venture Partners and DCM.

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