Maybe you are considering a self-generated health information (SGHI) wearable – sometimes called a health and fitness device that can be worn on the body – as a gift for someone? I can recommend the Basis Band over FitBit unless you immediately need integration with other health and fitness apps you are using, such asRunKeeper, MyFitnessPal, or Tactio Health, since Basis has not yet added features that integrate these apps. Eventually when Basis completes the full functionality of their API you can simply use TicTrac, the application integration platform for this purpose and get much more integration than you probably need. I’m also hoping for the API so we can download information using the Validic API.
I like all the parameters that the Basis Band measures. It has multiple sensors that measure optical blood flow, 3-axis acceleration, perspiration, and skin temperature. As a result this SGHI wearable device can capture your heart rate, exercise activity and intensity, stress levels, and sleep quality. All that FitBit can measure is activity level and whether you’re going up or down (i.e. to measure “floors”).
Basis provides the detailed data so that you can look at how these measures may be related to your behaviors during the day and your sleep at night. You can view one or more of these by selecting options on the left side of the activity details page shown here. This is a snapshot of just one of my days, but it does appear after looking at multiple days that my perspiration increases throughout the night and drops quickly when I get up. I’m probably getting warmer under the covers all night and then when I jump out of bed in the morning I am quickly cooled by the ambient temperature in our cold apartment. By pointing to any point of the display you can determine details about that particular point in time, including any of the parameters that you have selected to view. For instance, I can see that during exercise my heart rate only gets up to about 113 while my resting heart rate is close to 63. I’m thinking that I need to push myself a little harder to get that rate to double as is recommended for a rigorous exercise routine.
What I really like about the Basis product are the “Habit” options. Basis provides a wide range of options for motivating your behavior changes. It allows you to start with one, initially just wearing the band 12 hours per day, and once you complete this you can add another and so on until you have successfully achieved each of your new habits.
In a couple days I was able to earn enough points to start on three habits: wear time at 12 hours per day (“Wear It”), steps at 8000 per day (“Step It Up”) and regular running at 30 minutes per day (“Run Club”). I didn’t achieve all of them every day, but I earn points each time I achieve a goal that Basis calls a Habit. The fourth Habit that I added encourages me to get up from sitting as often as I can, which I set too low for the first week at 30 minutes. I couldn’t get the amount of times between walking to less than 45 minutes between 9 and 5, so this week I increased the goal to 1 hour 30 minutes. I have to find where I can reach the goal, and then I can push myself to get better from that point. Isn’t that the point of goals?
Basis provides many other options for Habits. For Activity it has taking a morning or evening lap, riding a bike, burning calories, or increasing the time you are active. FitBit allows me to set my primary goal to time of activity or calories, but it does not support biking goals or period goals like the morning or evening laps, though it could easily provide period goals in the future. Basis also has goals you can set for sleep behavior motivation, including setting a more consistent bedtime, regular rising time, or just an effort to get more sleep in the evening.
Another page provides some summary of your daily activities and shows how you earned points that day for successfully achieving your goals. This is the same information that you would receive on your phone if you allow the Basis smartphone app to provide you with notifications. Furthermore, it breaks your walking and running periods into components so you can see how your activity was spread throughout the day. For instance, the figure shows two periods of walking from 1:08-1:15 PM and 4:51-4:58 on Sunday, December 8th. You can click through each of these items to see more detail about them.
The Patterns page is another feature of Basis not provided by any analytics I have found for FitBit. This graphic allows the user to step through each of the measured items including calories, perspiration, skin temperature, steps, and heart rate to see any patterns in how they vary throughout the day. I can’t actually see anything easily from the week that I have been using Basis, except what one might expect, which is that I exercise mostly in the afternoon, increasing the calories (shown here) at those times. The other times when I have good calorie use are more interesting probably associated with periods of walking to and from work, or when I have to walk across campus which I did at least once last week.
Generally I like Basis for its analytic possibilities, but I’m discouraged by its lack of connections to other SGHI apps and devices. For instance it does not integrate with information from my FitBit or RunKeeper, or worse yet, an API isn’t available for companies like TicTrac to allow downloading of the information into their powerful cross-application analytics interface. One can now download the information from Basis into a spreadsheet, but that’s really only for the most dedicated Quantified Selfers with some technical skills and knowledge of how to use spreadsheets. Hopefully Basis will get their API working soon because the rest of what they offer is encouraging and exciting for all the possible behavior changes that could come out of this information.