Basis Science and Intel’s hybrid sports smartwatch the Basis Peak has finally been released in the US, and is coming to the UK in mid-December.
The Basis Peak has a price tag of $199 and will retail for £169 in the UK, putting it slightly above the latest range of activity trackers.
Speculation that Intel owned company was planning a smartwatch have turned out to be wide of the mark, and the Basis Peak follows the B1 as a continuous activity monitor. It’s firmly aimed at those looking to lead healthier lifestyles or track their training.
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Like the Basis B1, heart rate sensing is at the heart of the new Basis Peak – and the optical sensors used to track blood flow have been overhauled, for more accurate monitoring even during exercise.
The heart rate sensing tech tracks sleep, calorific burn and helps detect running, cycling and swimming. The feature set is near identical to the rest of the activity tracking world but Basis believes its sensor tech trounces the competition in terms of accuracy.
The Basis B1 had set the benchmark for wrist-based heart rate sensing, which eliminates the need for separate chest straps. However, Basis VP for Product Ethan Fassett told Wareable that the B1’s sensor “fell down during exercise” where movement, sweat and extra ambient light from the device moving about made readings unreliable.
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The Basis Peak features improved LEDs and photo-sensitive diodes on the rear of the device, which tracks heart rate more effectively while running, cycling and walking.
Elsewhere, there’s a host of other sensors including a tri-axial accelerometer, a galvanic skin sensor to detect perspiration and thermal sensors to measure body heat, all working to track your workouts. Not just relying on movement to determine activity means that the Basis Peak will be able to track your workouts in the gym, where other GPS-based trackers fail.
Basis Peak notifications
It’s not all about fitness and the Basis Peak will display notifications such as texts, calls, emails and other third party apps. However, this functionality is being held back until Christmas, and will not be available at launch.
The Basis Peak can access notifications from both Android and iOS devices using existing APIs, so we’re not sure why the features are delayed.
You’ll be able to read full emails and notifications from the watch, scrolling via the touchscreen, but you won’t be able to browse conversations or retrieve messages from your inbox, for example. It seems that Basis has been keen to keep the smartwatch features to a bare minimum, and interestingly, only five minutes worth of notifications will be displayed on the watch; anything older will expire, regardless of whether it’s been read or not.
Basis has chosen a standard 23mm changeable strap for the Peak, and it’s announced that it will be offering red, blue, black and green options, and available for $30 on the Basis website.
Heart rate streaming
Curiously, the Basis Peak can be used in combination with existing running apps as a heart rate monitor, which is good news for users of Runkeeper and Runtastic.
The Basis Peak doesn’t have GPS built in, and this is a downside when it comes to running, so the hart rate streaming will help. However, with competitors such as the Sony SmartWatch 3 able to handle GPS, music and run tracking without a smartphone, it already seems at a disadvantage.
Beauty is only skin deep?
Intel first teased the Basis Peak at its Developer Forum last month, and showed off the optical heart rate sensor on the back of the device. At the time Mike Bell, Intel VP joked that the Peak looked better from the rear, and unfortunately, he might be right.
While there has been substantial improvements in the design from the B1, the Basis Peak is hardly a looker. Thickness has been cut by a third, plastic swapped for aluminium and the a Gorilla Glass, touch sensitive screen added, but it’s no Moto 360 or Apple Watch. It’s also water resistant to survive stints in the pool.
The main root of the design gripes stem from the low power black and white LCD display. Fassett told Wareable that longer battery life had been preferred to a colour screen, and confirmed that the Basis Peak would last four days between charges.
As well as activity tracking, the Basis Peak can pair with Android handsets and iPhones using Bluetooth Smart – the low power wireless connectivity, which was missing from the Basis B1. As well as syncing data with the overhauled app, which now displays results of your training and daily activity on charts and graphs.