The Basis of Wearable Technology

As part of the process of self analysis, I have recently purchased, (with the permission of my wonderful wife, and the assistance of one Mrs Kelly Underhill of Arizona), a Basis watch (2014 Edition Carbon Steel).  Okay, so background here.  The Basis watch is one of the more advanced portable health trackers on the market at the moment, in that it continuously measures:

  • Sleep (REM, light and deep)
  • Steps
  • Calorie burn
  • Activities (walking, running, cycling)
  • Heart rate (without chest strap) (high levels of inaccuracy during exercise)
  • Skin temperature
  • Perspiration

As this device is currently not available for purchase for non-US consumers, I purchased it through Amazon.com and had it shipped to a US address (belonging to Kelly).  She then used the less convenient services of the US postal service and had it sent to Spain.  The delivery time from the US was remarkably quick and that cannot be faulted!

So what should one expect from a Basis watch you can ask and here is the unveiling of the device that I received.

The hardware:

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The Complete Basis Watch Content

Above can be seen a lot of box contains the watch, a USB charger, and a simple instruction manual.

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Charging Points on Watchface

Above can be seen the charging points on the side of the Basis watch

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The Rear of the Basis Watch, Showing the Sensors

Above can be seen the rear of the watch, which shows the HR monitor, and the skin temperature and perspiration sensors.

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So that gives you an idea of what to expect of the packaging, and what is contained inside.  It may not look like much and to be honest I thought the same.  However, my main purpose for the purchase was in getting a continuous heart rate monitor that did not require a chest strap, so big pomp and dancing girls were not required, only that it did what it claimed.  I had read some reviews and specifically noted that people had complained that the HR readings during exercise were not consistent, which I have been able to confirm in the week or so that I have worn the watch.  However, for cardio exercise I use my Garmin GPS watch (now in conjunction with the Basis), which has a chest strap and is mostly reliable.

Once opened I put the device on charge with the peculiar charging dock which clips over the top of the watch, holding the charging connectors in place.  This then led me through a series of onscreen setup pages, and required me to create an account with Basis, as the device will store information on their system, and that is how you view your data.

The Installation:

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This was a very straight forward process and at the end you are encouraged to select new habits, which will be recorded by the watch and that you will be able to examine your progress against.  I started with a habit to sleep 8 hours a night, which I am struggling to do, but it has certainly allowed me to snooze during the day with less guilt! 🙂

So let me show you a typical day view from the Basis website:

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The above screenshot shows my activity, which is mostly accurate.  For some reason it has me cycling at 9pm or so, which is when I was frantically working at cleaning a long tube of plastic (another story), but for some reason the Basis sensors put this in the ‘he is cycling’ camp!  It can also be seen that my heart rate during the sweaty walk I took in the morning and into midday was not very reliable and even missing at a point (12:55 to 13:55).  I find the rest of the information insightful, and I hope that over time I will be able to track various movement patterns and exercise levels to physical sensations and hopefully creating injury reduction.

One of the areas that I was not expecting to find as interesting as I do, is the sleep chart:

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This is the chart for last night which claims to be able to show my total sleep time, and the types of sleep I was having.  I am not aware of the algorithms or accuracy of this data.  However, I hope that with time I will be able to overlay this with my mood in the morning and my opinion of my restfulness to determine my perception of its accuracy.

Overall, I am intrigued by the initial offerings and the range of information available in wearing the Basis.

The final point, but one that may be terribly important if you are blessed (?) like me and have skinny, effeminate wrists.  The Basis is a unisex watch and to achieve this, they have made the watch face smaller than a typical manly watch, and perhaps larger than a typical female watch.  This being the case, it is just perfect for my wrist (at least in my opinion). 🙂

Anyhow, a new day of tracking awaits, so when are you going to start the journey into quantifying yourself?  How do you truly know if you are getting better or worse until you start measuring?  Get a baseline of your health and work on being an improved you! 🙂

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