The latest innovation in the field of electronic gadgets has been targeting the area around the wrists. Besides being a place that is visible, a place where ornaments like bangles and watches can be worn, the wrist tracks an essential life mechanism of the body – the pulse rate.
Measuring the pulse rate is important since it is essential to know whether the heart is beating normally or not while doing strenuous exercises. Since the heart rate changes as one walks slowly or rapidly, the pulse rate is a good indicator of activity levels. A normal heart rate, also called resting heart rate, is about 60-100 per minute and neither a higher heart rate nor a lower one is advised.
Being both an active health stylist as well as a gadget freak I have tried several of these wrist activity trackers. When I discovered the Jawbone UP – I was thrilled. Here was a wristband that tracked my steps and measured the quality of my sleep. Jawbone UP was a game changer, the attractive colours — yellow, red, blue, pink — made it fun to wear and the accompanying apps on iPhone or Android gave an account of the entire day’s activity.
Earlier, sports companies like Nike have made gadgets to monitor heart rate. But they were rather cumbersome. There was a strap that had to be worn around the heart while exercising and a watch that displayed the rate at which the heart pumped while the cardio activities or muscle training, strength building exercises were being carried out. This strap is nothing compared to the wristbands that have now flooded the market.
While I enjoyed the user interface and the water-resistant feature and long battery hours of Jawbone UP, I was forced to give it up last month for its rival company called Fitbit Flex. Fitbit Flex in comparison offers a much poorer user interface; there is very little information available on the phone apps screen. There are hardly any graphs indicating a trend either of the past or the future.
The only place where it scores above the Jawbone UP is that it calculates the total calories spent per day, in comparison to Jawbone being essentially a pedometer.
Fitbit Flex is also much lighter in comparison, being water resistant one can wear it 24x7 and soon I forgot that I was wearing a band. It uses a Bluetooth technology to transfer data to the phone app and the readings are instantaneous. Jawbone Up in comparison was heavier and needed to be manually inserted into the phone’s jack in order to read the findings. The design was poor and totally unreliable. Without rhyme or reason, Jawbone UP suddenly stops charging and one has no option but to go out and buy another piece.
Although inferior in comparison, Fitbit Flex is stealing a march over Jawbone UP on account of its reliability. Jawbone UP has software that is well-designed and well-executed, but Fitbit Flex has a wristband that is reliable, funky and easy to use.
Technology is not only invading our lives but also making lifestyle changes for us. It provides the platform, but whether products succeed or fade away and lose market share depends on the trust they build on customers based on quality, control, reliability and innovation.
The writer is an entrepreneur and educationist