MotionX: What you need to know

It's powering the new Swiss smartwatches but just what exactly is MotionX tech?
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MotionX - it's one of those tech words you've seen on an app or an advert or a spec sheet. But what exactly does Fullpower's motion tracking platform do and why should you care?

Read on to find out what you need to know about MotionX, if you're using it right now and how it works.

MotionX: Jawbone, Nike, Swiss watches


The first question you have about MotionX is probably - why does it matter? It's not a shiny new bauble, it's a tech platform.

Well, if you've used Nike's fitness and running apps, for instance, or the Jawbone UP, UP24 or UP Move trackers then you've already been using Fullpower's tech. MotionX is the secret sauce handling all the activity and sleep tracking. That's why it matters.

Read this: The best fitness tracker you can buy

The UP3, 2015's most anticipated fitness tracker uses MotionX software in the Jawbone app but switches up the hardware for more sensors.

Then there's the upcoming Swiss smartwatches: the Mondaine No 1 Helvetica Smart, the Alpina Horological smartwatch and the Frederique Constant smartwatch.

These upgradeable, Swiss-made timepieces will go on sale in June with prices starting around the $1,000 mark and will also run on the MotionX platform. Want more? We'll soon be seeing MotionX smart jewellery too.

MotionX: motion and sleep tracking

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MotionX has had its own branded apps, for iOS and Android, since 2008, as well as providing the tech for apps and devices under more well known wearable names.

But it's all built upon the data science and rigorous lab testing which the Silicon Valley-based Fullpower has been conducting into activity and sleep since Philippe Kahn founded the company, with his wife Sonia Lee, in 2003.

Read this: Baselworld 2015 - the year of the smartwatch

For the Swiss-made smartwatches using the Horological SmartWatch Open platform, there will be a MotionX module inside providing the processor, Bluetooth connectivity, battery and sensors such as an accelerometer, as found in most fitness trackers and smartbands.

In its smartphone apps such as MotionX-GPS, Fullpower uses the smartphone's tech to take care of the tracking and processing but the algorithms, insights and coaching in the companion apps remain the same.

MotionX: accuracy and battery life


Fullpower prides itself on being the best in the business at tracking activity and sleep with its CEO Philippe Kahn saying it is "the premier technology" in this space next to relative newbies such as Google, Fitbit and Apple.

In terms of sleep tracking, for instance, MotionX is 80% as accurate - according to Fullpower - as a medical polysomnography (sleep monitoring) machine. Fullpower could produce even more accurate tech but Kahn says at that point it would become so invasive and disruptive to your normal routine that it wouldn't really reflect your day to day habits.

MotionX tech is not only accurate but it's also very low power which is how devices such as Jawbone's UP24 and UP Move are able to have such long battery life, up to six months.

The watches from Alpina, Frederique Constant and Mondaine, which also don't have LCD screens, will last up to two years on one coin cell battery.

MotionX: apps

MotionX: What you need to know

So what information and insights can MotionX give you about your health, fitness and habits? As with any apps, you can set goals and track your progress towards them. You can record (depending on which app you use) time, steps, distance, speed, top speed, altitude and an estimate of calories burned.

There's also metrics such as longest active, longest idle and a breakdown of resting and active calorie burn.

Sleep tracking includes the time you were asleep, the time you spent in bed, how many times you wake up and how much sound sleep versus light sleep you got.

Apps such as Jawbone's UP app for its family of trackers also include Adaptive Coaching - Jawbone calls it Smart Coaching - which points out if you haven't hit your step target or daily activity time target in a few days.

From the 'linked to motion' screens we've seen so far from the MMT partnership with Swiss watchmakers, the app seems to be a simplified version of MotionX's own software with easy to digest graphics to show progress towards activity and sleep goals. We'll get a better look at detailed graphs and metrics in June when the first models go on sale.

MotionX: Wareable's verdict so far


Wareable's main experience with MotionX so far has been through Jawbone's UP products and it's been positive.

In our 4 1/2 star UP24 review, we said: "When it comes to accuracy, we found the tracking a lot better than many of Jawbone's competitors. If you find the band is counting extra steps you can also calibrate it, which should set it right. And remember if you don't you're only cheating yourself."

And from our more recent 4 star UP Move review: "Sleep tracking is more standard, with your light sleep, deep slumber and periods of awakeness all logged, and placed on a graph. The tracker was especially accurate when it comes to those brief stirrings that many sleep trackers miss, and this offers a degree of confidence about the rest of its data.

"We were also relatively impressed with the estimated calorie burn from the logged activities. Your goals are limited to hours of sleep or steps walked, not time sat down, for example. We'd love to see more control over goals in the future."

So individual ecosystems using the MotionX platform aren't perfect but it's up to each manufacturer to design the fitness and health tracking experience it thinks users want.

With the potential to be used in wearables, smartwatches, fitness trackers, smart jewellery and smart home devices, MotionX is a bit of tech jargon to remember.

How we test


Sophie was Wareable's associate editor. She joined the team from Stuff magazine where she was an in-house reviewer. For three and a half years, she tested every smartphone, tablet, and robot vacuum that mattered. 

A fan of thoughtful design, innovative apps, and that Spike Jonze film, she is currently wondering how many fitness tracker reviews it will take to get her fit. Current bet: 19.

Sophie has also written for a host of sites, including Metro, the Evening Standard, the Times, the Telegraph, Little White Lies, the Press Association and the Debrief.

She now works for Wired.

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