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Entries in Basis Health Tracker (3)

Wednesday
Mar192014

Basis 2014 Carbon Steel Health Tracker Watch Review 

First off, let's talk about what a Basis Health Tracker Watch is?

The Basis Health Tracker Watch is really a combination of a Fitness Band, combined with a Heart Rate Sensor, combined with a Watch, combined with some other bells and whistles that pickup even more information from your body.

Starting with the Fitness Band side of things, the basic function of most fitness bands is to track movement using built in accelerometers/gyroscopes. This movement is then deciphered into activities like sleeping, sitting, walking, and running typically. Most Fitness bands track activities that are stepped based the most accurately, so sports like biking, circuit training and weight lifting for example do not convert so well into a step only based format, meaning you will not get an accurate caloric total for non step based activities.

Heart rate sensors do not track movement but rather they read your heart rate which can then be converted into energy output based on your weight, height, age and gender. Heart  rate activity readings are very accurate in terms of how many calories you are actually burning because the higher the heart rate the more effort you are exerting.

We all know what a watch does but incorporating a watch with not only the time but also the date is a nice touch, it saves you having to wear an actual watch or having to dig your phone out of your pocket or purse to check the time.

Basis has gone even a few steps further and added some extra bells and whistles unique to the Basis Health Tracker Watch. Basis has incorporated even more sensors, one for reading your skin temperate, one for reading outside ambient temperature, and one that reads your perspiration. This extra information can be used by the software to figure out what's going on with your body during different times of the day and different types of activities.

Who is the Basis Health Tracker Watch made for?

In my option it "is not made for" the serious high level athlete looking for very accurate feedback when doing high level activities that really get your heart rate soaring. I just did not find the Basis Health Tracker Watch was able to track my high-level activities very well. I'll get into that a bit more later when I talk about the built-in Heart Rate Sensor since it plays a key role.

Now for people who are looking for typical activity readings found with most fitness bands that track step based motion, the Basis works very much the same way but with of course the added info from all the extra sensors built into the fitness watch. Being able to see data like your sleep patterns, heart rate, body temperature and perspiration combined with steps and calories, is very interesting to say the least. Basis also uses this info to help you build custom programs called Habits that will aid you in achieving your health and fitness goals.

The Basis hardware:

You get the Basis Health Tracker Watch, mine is the 2014 Carbon Steel version with the chrome highlights and black band, it came with the USB Sync and Charging cable.

On the front you have the LCD screen with 4 touch sensitive buttons. The top left button is for activating the back light. (Yes it does have a backlight unlike the MIO Alpha). The backlight also automatically turns on when you flip your wrist up quickly. The bottom left button will cycle through the time and date.The right side top and bottom buttons toggle up and down between your Heart Rate, Calories, and Steps. On the right side is a syncing button that is used for manually syncing at any time which I thought was awesome! You can also turn off Bluetooth and connect new devices with this button in combination with the up and down right side front facing buttons.

The silicone straps can come off by pushing them firmly up and away from the main unit. No need to take the strap off for charging. On the back side resides the Heart Rate Monitor and the sensors for Body Temperature and Perspiration. Inside of course is the brain of the unit along with the 3-Axis Accelerometer for motion sensing.

For the most part the sensors all do exactly what they are supposed to do with the exception of the Heart Rate Sensor. Yes it reads your heart rate, but not continuously, if it where to read every heart rate pulse all the time, it would eat up your battery very quickly since the Basis has to use an LED light and mini camera to read the blood level changes in your skin. So the Basis instead does periodic readings of your pulse to give you a "big picture" idea of what your heart is doing throughout the day.

One of the problems I encountered with my Basis Health Tracker's Heart Rate Sensor is that it was not able to track my heart rate at all when I went up and over around 120 beats per minute. It is common knowledge that for this type of wrist worn heart rate sensor, they seem to only work in high heart rate situations when and if you keep your wrist, level and motionless. Not very realistic when performing fitness activities since your wrist will generally be moving a lot. By the way, the Basis is water resistant but not water proof, so showers are OK but swimming is not, so again, not going to track any swimming activities.

The Software:

Disclaimer: I had to stop wearing my Basis Health tracker Watch a week back because it was causing a rash on my wrist. This is most likely because it must be worn fairly tight in order to read your pulse and because of this, it does not allow really any movement and so the skin does not breath very well and moisture can get trapped between the band and your skin. I also have very mild psoriasis which has even flared up from time to time under my ring finger. I would recommend if you're also skin sensitive to take the band off once in a while or change which wrist you wear it on occasionally. I mention this because you are not going to see up to date info as I had to take mine off for the past week.

Getting back to the software… All this great data is nothing without a way to interpolate it, and figure out how it's useful. As with most activity monitoring devices these day, there is generally some information on the band or watch itself, and a way to sync the device using the built-in Bluetooth to either an iPhone or Computer, or you can also use the USB changers as a syncing cable for computer syncing! You will need to setup an account so that all your cloud based data can be transferred between devices and kept up to date.

Web App:

On the computer when logged into the Basis Web App you can see your data categorized as either Habits, Insights, or Raw Data. Three is also an Account Setting area.

  • In the Habits Tab, you can see your existing goals and also add new or "Next" Habits. These Habits are designed to motive and push you to do better or improve your fitness and health. Personally I did not feel the need to go down this road since I find I push myself hard enough as is ;)
  • The Insights Tab allows you to see a summary so to speak of your daily activities along with a break down of categorized activities like walking, running, biking and sleeping. You can click on each activity for more details.
  • The Data Tab is for looking at specific dates to drill into the raw data for close analysis of Activity, Activity Patterns and Sleep Details.
  • The User Account section is where you can make changes to your main profile. Upload a photo, enter your name and location, change your email and password, enter your personal data for calibration, select notifications, get device information and connect to Facebook if you choose to.

iPhone App:

The iPhone App has much of the same info with the exception of only really showing you your sleep info and your calories burned which I thought was a bit strange?

You have 4 Tabs: Dashboard, Habits, Insights, Sleep and Settings.

  • The Dashboard Tab gives you an overview of how your day is going and will show you syncing in progress.
  • The Habits Tab will display any of your preset Habits and display if you have hit these goals for any given date.
  • The Insights Tab displays activities that the Basis has detected like walking, running, biking, sleeping and allows you to select them and view your calorie count for Activities. For your Sleep you can checkout how long you slept and even your quality of sleep like: Light, Deep, REM, Intermittent and Tossing and Turning.
  • There is also a dedicated Sleep Tab which is a bit redundant but does give you quick access to your sleep patterns.
  • Lastly there is a Settings Tab where you can select to use your iPhone's time zone, contact email support, get a walk through for Sync Setup and Logout. You will want to go to your online Web App account to setup your account with all of your details at some point.

Basis 2014 Carbon Steel Health Tracker Watch Features:

  • Optical Blood Flow Sensor for tracking your heart rate day and night.
  • 3-Axis Accelerometer to detect the bodies movements to measure activity levels and sleep quality.
  • Perspiration Monitor indicates workout intensity by showing changes in sweat levels.
  • Skin Temperature indicates exertion levels by monitoring changes in skin temperature in relation to the ambient temperature.
  • Trans-reflective LCD display features an electroluminescent back light that can turn on during quick time checks.
  • 4 Day Lithium Battery.
  • Bluetooth 2.1 wireless syncing.
  • Water resistant. (Showering, dish washing, wading in pool but not swimming)
  • Silicon strap, Thermoplastic polyurethane face and Stainless steel capacitive touch pins and connector contacts.

Pros:

  • The Basis is one of the most versatile Fitness and Health Tracking Watches so far with all kinds of sensor data.
  • The Basis has decent 4 days of battery life even while detecting your heart rate.
  • The Basis can sync using Bluetooth 2.1 or the included USB cable.
  • The Basis has an auto sensing backlight :)
  • There is lots of onscreen info on the Basis LCD Screen: time, date, heart rate, calories, steps.
  • The Basis has a manual sync button, love it!
  • I found the Basis very comfortable to wear even though it is worn snug, other than some skin irritation if not removed from time to time for airing out.
  • The Basis is a very nice looking watch/band.
  • The online Basis Web based software offered lots of information.
  • The price for what you get is very reasonable.

Cons:

  • Because the Basis band needs to be worn very snug, you may get some skin irritation if you have skin sensitivities.
  • I found the Basis did not read my heart rate very well when doing high level fitness so I was not getting accurate calorie burning readings.
  • The iPhone App displays limited information compared to the online Web App, I did not find it overly useful.
  • With all the extra sensors I found that the Basis did not use this information in a way that detected high level workouts when I was very active and should have been accounting for lots of calories being burned.
  • The Basis only works with iPhone iOS at this time.
  • I was not a fan of how the Basis software broke up my sleeping into sections if I had interruptions. Sometimes I would have to take into account 3 separate sleep activities to figure out how much I actually slept in an evening.

Conclusion:

I was super excited to review my Basis 2014 Carbon Steel Health Tracker Watch, and perhaps I was expecting a bit too much from it? I am thinking the technology for wrist based heart rate sensing is just not yet at the point where it is highly accurate compared to a dedicated chest based heart rate sensors, for example like my Polar Loop and H7 combination which is super accurate! Even my MIO Alpha which is a dedicated wrist based heart rate sensor was not able to read my heart rate accurately when it got up and over 120-130 beats per minute.

I found looking at all the data the Basis collects very interesting but at the end of the day, the Basis could not figure out when I was doing intense workouts? I was only getting credit for a small percentage of the calories I was actually burning, so for me this was a big let down. For people with lower expectations the Basis could be ideal, after all, not everyone is like me and needs to know exactly how many calories they burn during high intensity CrossFit workouts. The Basis with its motivational Habit incentives may be just what many people need to get on the right track towards improving their Health and Fitness?

I am positive that Basis as a company will constantly be improving their hardware and software, and I fully expect future versions to only become more accurate to the point where they will satisfy even myself! But again for now, I am sticking with my Polar Loop and H7 combination, as it offers the best of all worlds for the athlete who is very demanding of their fitness technology!

Saturday
Feb152014

Basis 2014 Carbon Steel Health Tracker Watch Unboxing

My Basis 2014 Carbon Steel Health Tracker Watch (Basis Websitefinally arrived and of course the first thing I did as soon as I got it home was shoot my unboxing video so I could charge it up and get it on my wrist :)

For those unaware of what the Basis Health Tracker is, the Basis Health Tracker Watch like the MIO Alpha has a heart rate sensor built into the back of the watch, unlike the MIO Alpha, the Basis has an added motion sensor similar to other fitness bands, a perspiration sensor and even body and outside temperature sensors. The Basis Health Tracker Watch also stores this data on the watch until synced with a device like an iOS or Android device, PC or Mac.


In this unboxing video I obviously show you the packaging and the contents inside the box, and I go into a bit more detail explaining just exactly what the Basis Health Tracker Watch actually does and how it compares to other similar devices.

Tuesday
Feb112014

Basis Health Tracker Watch On Its Way!

I recently picked up the MIO Alpha Wrist Watch Heart Rate Sensor and mentioned I had planned to get the Basis Health Tracker Watch (Basis Website) at some time, well the time is here! I am still testing the MIO Alpha and once that is done I will move on to the Basis Health Tracker Watch.

The Basis Health Tracker Watch like the MIO Alpha has a heart rate sensor built into the back of the watch, but the Basis also has the added features of tracking motion, perspiration and even body and outside temperatures. the Basis Health Tracker Watch also stores this data on the watch until synced with a device.

Look forward to my Unboxing and full Review Videos of my Basis Carbon Steel Edition when they are available.