The next wave of fitness trackers will do a lot more than count your steps, mold raw data, and present it all for you in a pretty chart for you to glance at and forget about. If Jawbone Up is any indication, these wearables will use the subtle power of suggestion to help us live healthier lives, too.
Today, Jawbone is rolling out a new, slightly tongue-in-cheek but slick app to help manage our caffeine intake. It is called Up Coffee.
Its premise is simple enough: You log your coffee, tea, and energy drink consumption in the app, which will tell you where you fall on a spectrum from "Wired" to "Sleep Ready." If you have a fitness band, it will make correlations, and tell you when it might be wise to stop sipping espresso if you're hoping to sleep at a reasonable hour that night. "After tracking both caffeine intake and sleep for 10 days, Up Coffee can tell you things like the amount of sleep you lose on average for every 100mg of caffeine you ingest," the company says.
Studies have shown that there are enormous benefits to sneaking in an extra hour of sleep, and that the bright, glowing screens on our phones and computers can quietly wreak all sorts of inner havoc on our circadian rhythm come nighttime. Even companies like Apple are keenly aware of sleep's importance to our next-day vitality, purportedly hiring Roy J.E.M. Raymann recently, a sleep expert from the Netherlands who specializes in wearables and sensors.
The folks behind Jawbone Up, the company's rubber fitness tracker and accompanying iPhone and Android app, say their data supports this. "Our research has shown that there is a strong correlation between sleep and how good people feel," Travis Bogard, Jawbone's VP of Product Management and Strategy, told Fast Company during a presentation. According to one of their studies—which looked at information of more than 1,600 Up wearers for more than 5,000 nights of sleep—found that participants who got at least seven hours of sleep at night were 30% more likely to report feeling rested the next day. They were said to feel more patient, focused, productive at work, and, well, attractive.
That might sound obvious. And it is. But the company seems intent on siphoning up as much biometric data as possible to make sure we're getting quality shut-eye.
The app is very well-designed and intuitive. But one would imagine it to have quite a short shelf life once your caffeine habits are in order. Still, it portends a future for wearables concerned with a more holistic portrait of health beyond going out for a jog or lifting dumbbells. Still, I had to ask: Why build an app around coffee?
"Because it was actually the number one tracked food item," said Bogard. "Clearly, it's something a lot of people are tracking. But we wanted to go deeper."