Basis is a high-tech health-tracking device that measures fitness, sleep, heart rate, perspiration and skin temperature.
One of the many challenges with fitness technology in the past was that gathering different types of information required a person to wear different devices. The Basis watch claims to fix that challenge by combining tracking of movement through steps with a strapless heart-rate sensor. The multi-sensor band combined with the online personal dashboard was designed to help people incorporate healthy habits into their daily lives.
From the time out of the box, to charging the device, setting up an account online, downloading the app to your smartphone and getting everything working as it should, could take anywhere between 20 to 60 minutes. If you need to contact support for help, they offer a number of different ways to do so and will often send a video link demonstrating the best way to install everything.
One thing that makes the Basis different from other fitness-tracking devices is the ability to measure heart rate optically. This means that you don’t need to wear a heart-rate strap around your chest; instead, a sensor on the backside of the watch measures heart rate through changes in blood flow within the capillaries on your wrist. During the day, measurements with normal physical activity and low-to-moderate workouts seem to work well and fall within acceptable accuracy of heart rate (you can expect updates to the software to make these readings even more accurate). For higher-intensity workouts or athletic training, it is a good idea to test the heart-rate values from the Basis with your normal device (by hand or using a strapped heart-rate monitor) before you make any changes to your workouts based on data from the Basis.
Another point of difference for the Basis is the behavior-change science that comes free on the personal online dashboard. The Basis online component is one of the better ones out there when it comes to both content and helping the user work toward his or her health and fitness goals in small, manageable steps. The website is divided into three sections: My Habits, Insights and Data. The My Habits section does a nice job of creating small but manageable steps toward better health, starting, for example, from simply wearing the device for 12 hours to progressing to taking 2,000 steps before noon. The insights section gives a nice interactive, one-page view of your results, activity and sleep scores. The data section is where the number crunching and statistical evaluation takes place. There, you can plot and compare heart rate, steps, calories, skin temperature and perspiration throughout the day and how each factor may impact the scores of the other measurements.
One of the more recent trends in health-monitoring devices is in the tracking of sleep. The Basis watch has one of the nicer interfaces with sleep and is rather easy to use. Unlike other devices where the user needs to tell the device they are going to sleep, the Basis watch “knows” when you go to bed and when you get up, taking away that extra step in sleep monitoring. Although the sleep score doesn’t show up on the watch display, after a successful sync of the watch to your smartphone over Bluetooth, you will be able to see total time sleeping, a quality of sleep score and the number of times your sleep was interrupted. While this type of sleep monitoring won’t replace a sleep study from your doctor or be able to diagnose you with sleep issues, it will give you a general view on the quality of your sleep. And, if you see trends that may become a problem, you can take your sleep information to your doctor to start the conversation.
The Basis watch can also measure your skin temperature and perspiration levels, but other than including the measurements on a fancy graph, little information is given as to what other benefits may come from monitoring these factors. For the average user, knowing either will have little impact on the quality of one’s workout. Cheers to Basis on being able to create a tool that can measure each, but the question remains, so what now?
As with all new technology, the Basis watch will go through a few rounds of enhancements before the general public adopts the technology, but functions well as is. If you can afford the price, the worst thing you get is a cool-looking watch, while the best thing you get is a virtual coach to help you work toward better health.
What we liked:
- Heart-rate sensor from wrist
- Real-time data display
- Encouraging healthy habits on dashboard through small changes in fitness and sleep routines
What we didn’t like:
- Watch band can be bulky and uncomfortable
- Only two scientifically reviewed studies around design of technology (from their website)
- Initial set-up can be challenging for non-tech users
- No education on the value of measuring skin temperature or perspiration levels