Ng: Wearable device

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Thursday, December 26, 2013


LAST Christmas, I debated on what gadget or device I would try. There have been several releases. Microsoft released its Surface 2 tablet and also the Xbox One while Sony released Playstation 4. Apple released new tablets and phones while other manufacturers released several Android devices, and Nokia a series of Lumia phones – all targeted at the holiday shopper.

There have also been new watches released by Samsung and other manufacturers. These are digital watches that you can use to communicate, like read email or talk using a connected smartphone. This is a dream device that we used to see only in science fiction stories, like the Dick Tracy saga. Indeed, wearable computing has come of age.

In the end, I opted for a device called the UP by Jawbone. This is a wearable bracelet that you can just wear and forget – even when you are taking a shower. It looks like a baller bracelet but inside it is electronic gadgetry that communicates to you through vibrations. It also has a plug-in interface that once or twice a day you can synchronize with your smartphone.

You also need to download the application to your Apple device or Android phablet (this is a new term that signifies a device that you can use as a tablet and as a phone). The app has a couple of functions geared towards health and knowing more about yourself – so primarily it is used to do three things (at least for me) – count the number of steps you take during the day, evaluate the sleep you are getting at night and also act as an alarm clock.

One of the theories about health is that you should do enough walking to be healthy.

The advice we get is to walk at least 10,000 steps a day. So with this device you are able to record how much walking you do every day and also how much calories you subsequently burn daily. At night, you press a switch that tells the device that you are going to sleep and it records, through your movements, whether you constantly moved during your sleep (light sleep) or you didn’t move ( deep slumber). So these are two indicators that will help you live a healthier life.

There are minor things you can do with the device like set it up as an alarm to vibrate to wake you up. But you are also able to use it to set “windows.” The theory is that it is healthier and easier to be awakened during the time that you are on light sleep. So like you set your alarm to wake you up at 6:30 a.m. but you can set a 30-minute window. That means the bracelet will monitor your sleep. If by 6:30 a.m. you are still in deep slumber, it won’t vibrate. If at 6:45 a.m. it detects that you are moving and moving into lighter sleep, that’s the time it will vibrate.

During daytime, it can also perform a similar service. For instance, you can have a setting that if you don’t walk for one hour, it will vibrate and coax you to at least get up and walk around the office.

I have had it for a few days and it works okay. I now know I am not getting enough sleep and also I don’t walk enough. It’s something you can get for less than $150 from websites like Amazon. Get something healthy this Christmas. Happy Holidays!

(www.twitter.com/wilsonng)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 27, 2013.

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