The GoWear fit Lifestyle & Calorie Management System by BodyMedia consists of an electronic armband that calculates calories burned and measures steps, physical activity level and sleep efficiency. An optional display watch (sold separately) provides minute-to-minute updates, and a subscription-based online activity manager analyzes data to help users set and reach their goals and track progress.
The GoWear fit multi-sensor armband is a small computer that measures motion, steps, galvanic skin response, skin temperature and heat flux. With this information it tracks calorie burn, physical activity, steps taken and sleep duration and efficiency. The armband weighs 1.6 ounces, and is 3.3 x 4.4 x 6 inches.
When it comes to staying healthy or meeting particular goals like losing weight or becoming more active, knowledge is power. After all, it’s hard to tell yourself you’ve been active during the day when your pedometer indicates you’ve fallen well short of your step goal for the day. Likewise, having a clear idea of how many calories you’ve burned may make it easier to limit what you consume.
The quest for more information is the primary reason activity trackers have become so popular. One of the most comprehensive devices is the GoWear fit Lifestyle and Calorie Management System by BodyMedia. It features a lightweight armband that is worn around the clock to track a variety of physical characteristics, including calories burned and steps taken. This information is then downloaded and analyzed by GoWear’s Online Activity Manager, a subscription-based website that helps users track their progress over time. An optional display watch (sold separately) makes it possible to keep track of calories and steps on a minute-by-minute basis.
The armband itself is relatively comfortable, although it is bulky enough to show through lightweight clothing; users are unlikely to forget they are wearing it, particularly if they experience skin irritation from the sensor (the band itself should also be washed regularly, especially if workouts are particularly sweaty). Likewise, side-sleepers will have extra difficulty wearing it at night. Once a week, an alarm will sound to remind users to charge the device for three hours. The display watch looks similar to a bulky heart-rate monitor and is not particularly attractive; a clip is included if users prefer to wear it on their belt.
When it arrives, the armband must be activated and three days of food intake must be input into the online Nutrition Assessment tool so your average caloric intake can be calculated.
The monthly subscription fee for the online service ranges from $6.95 per month (if you sign up for a year) to $12.95 per month with no commitment. Even at the lower price, that’s nearly $84 per year, but without this online service the GoWear fit is essentially useless. Likewise, without the display watch, users must sync with the website throughout the day to know if they are meeting their daily activity goals.
Setting aside cost, however, the Online Activity Manager allows users to create daily calorie and step targets, input daily caloric intake, and analyze fitness data from the previous four weeks. The display emits a series of tones when goals are met throughout the day. Sleep duration and efficiency also are tracked.
The GoWear fit is not a heart-rate monitor, but instead calculates exercise intensity and caloric expenditure by measuring galvanic skin response, temperature and heat flux. As such, it appears to offer a more accurate reading than activity trackers that utilize a formula for calculating calories (weight, age, activity level).
For individuals who are looking for a way to meet specific weight and activity goals, the GoWear fit can certainly provide a lot of information, guidance and even motivation. The Online Activity Manager is easy to navigate and provides a wealth of information and data analysis to help users make better food choices and become more active throughout the day. However, the high cost of the hardware ($299 for both the armband and the display), combined with a monthly subscription fee, makes the GoWear fit appealing to only the most dedicated and goal-oriented users. For those who are simply looking to better understand their activity and sleep habits, less-expensive and easier-to-use devices are available.
What we liked:
- Accurate device for recording and tracking physical functions and daily activity levels
- Easy-to-use interactive website for uploading and analyzing data
- Great motivational tool for weight loss
What we didn’t like:
- Expensive, particularly with “optional” display and monthly subscription fee for online tracking service. The device itself is largely useless without these two things.
- Armband can be bulky and uncomfortable to wear all the time and display watch is unattractive
- Armband may cause skin irritation, particularly during sweaty workouts, and side-sleepers may find it uncomfortable to wear at night
January 29, 2010