Jawbone wants to go big on sleep monitoring and counting calories

One day, wearables will predict diseases too...
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Jawbone's head of data science has hinted at the data the company is aiming to tap into for its next generation fitness trackers.

"Part of our goal is to estimate higher-level measures of health -- for example, not just counting steps, but computing caloric burn," Brian Wilt told Infoq in an interview. "Not just bedtime and wake time, but the amount of deep and REM sleep."

Essential reading: Jawbone UP3 vs Fitbit Charge HR

Wilt didn't mention potential new hardware in the chat. Jawbone launched redesigned models of its UP2 and Up3 trackers in September last year and didn't have anything big to talk about at CES earlier this month.

On whether fitness trackers actually need more sensors or to focus on better understanding of existing data, Wilt commented, "At Jawbone we focus on the experiences we're trying to build. For example, understanding cardiac health and fitness, instead of the "hammer in search of a nail" approach. New sensors and models are both important and complementary pieces which serve these experiences."

Jawbone's software has undeniably been more successful than its problematic hardware and Wilt believes providing actionable insights from that data is crucial. "Wearables need to do so much more than tracking," he said. "Our Smart Coach software gives actionable insights, for example, 'Your heart rate was high last night, implying you're dehydrated -- drink more water!'

"We're using the same techniques that Google and Facebook use to get people to click on ads to improve their health. That's the power of data."

Read this: #Trending - Meaningful Fitness Data (Jawbone, Garmin, Fitbit)

With medical grade wearables tipped to be big in 2016, Wilt hopes that one day wearables can play a life changing role for doctors and their patients saying.

"The holy grail is to one day predict and manage conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and mental issues, closing the loop between measurement and behaviour change," Wilt said. "And there's massive financial incentives: fitness and weight loss are billion dollar markets, health care is a trillion dollar opportunity."

Hopefully Jawbone won't keep us waiting too long this year before we get to see both its next generation UP trackers and major software updates.

Jawbone wants to go big on sleep monitoring and counting calories

How we test

Michael Sawh


Michael Sawh has been covering the wearable tech industry since the very first Fitbit landed back in 2011. Previously the resident wearable tech expert at Trusted Reviews, he also marshaled the features section of T3.com.

He also regularly contributed to T3 magazine when they needed someone to talk about fitness trackers, running watches, headphones, tablets, and phones.

Michael writes for GQ, Wired, Coach Mag, Metro, MSN, BBC Focus, Stuff, TechRadar and has made several appearances on the BBC Travel Show to talk all things tech. 

Michael is a lover of all things sports and fitness-tech related, clocking up over 15 marathons and has put in serious hours in the pool all in the name of testing every fitness wearable going. Expect to see him with a minimum of two wearables at any given time.

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