HealBe GoBe originally made waves at the consumer electronics show in Las Vegas earlier this year, claiming to be the worlds first ‘100% automatic’ calorie counter. This week, HealBe announced that they have added hydration monitoring to their device, making it a uniquely rounded and automated device. However as always, claims are great, but does the tech do what it says on the tin? Lets find out.
Earlier today we investigated a lawsuit that Fitbit are being charged with by a group of their consumers, namely that their device over-reads your sleep by 67 minutes a night, and therefore its sleep tracking is ‘false advertising’. So the lawsuit argues, this renders the device useless. My point? the latest big claim to come out of HealBe is a big one, and the original fully automated calorie counting was significant enough. This all comes in a day and age where the tech is increasingly called upon to actually deliver, and it if doesn’t work, the consumers will let you know. They won’t just moan on Facebook, Insta and Twitter – they will take you to court to get their money back. So this matters.
However, make no mistake – the HealBe GoBe combination of activity tracker and smart calorie reader is a next generation gadget. In late 2015, you win no prizes for being a simple glorified pedometer – unless perhaps your very cheap or have an awesome ‘non-wearable’ design – the competitive landscape has seen to that.
This product actually could go on to be the health product of the decade – its potentially that significant. This iteration of the $299 tracker is not that product – its a battery life and world of accuracy away from that. It is however solving a very real problem.
The problem that GoBe want to solve
Realistically, we don’t have a great understanding of our bodies and how much fuel we really use and therefore how much we need to refuel. Did that awesome ball busting workout really burn 750 calories? How much extra energy do I burn by walking an extra stop rather than riding it on the tube? Realistically, we can’t answer these questions. Yet they’re fundamental to us as humans, and even more so to those of us looking to bash the gym and get some gains.
The Healbe GoBe Body Manager was developed to answer these basic questions, and a whole host more. It will, for example, tell you how many calories were in your lunch. You don’t need a nutrition label much less to read one to get this question answered. This is not a case of inputting data into a companion app – its a fully fledged, 100 percent automated way to understand the calories and energy in the food that you put into your body.
So how the heck does it do that? well, it uses three sensors combined with a bunch of complicated and clever algorithms. It sounds like a con. A sci-fi dream of a product, but just that, a dream. However, after one week of using it, we’re actually pretty convinced that this device works – to an acceptable degree.
After a week of using it, tracking every activity I have partaken in and every ounce of food I have eaten, I am convinced by the tech but it needs to improve.
GoBe Tested – How have I concluded that it works?
Firstly, this had to be a quantifiable test. So this was not a case of running off to the all you can eat buffet, or even to restaurants – it was a strict home based test. To draw any meaningful conclusions it was utterly key that we controlled our intake. So our go the all you ca eats, and in come strict diet controls.
I therefore stocked up with foods that I could quantify based on nutrition labels. I kept my diet to precisely weight and measured foods, with quantified nutrition labels. I even avoided chicken breasts and other such meat, because the varying levels of fat to protein and size of the cuts would impact the calories. This is not a recommended diet, but it was a scientific one.
The results? An interesting bunch of data came back in. Firstly, it is not accurate but neither is it wholly inaccurate. Remembering that this device ‘reads’ your calorie intake through your skin, and remembering the challenges associated with that, its important to contextualise the results.
The bottom line is that it works for some food types and for some meals. We found a better degree of accuracy earlier in the day. We’re not sure if this is because the meal that brakes our overnight fast has a more profound impact on our base metabolism or otherwise, but it definitely seemed to work better in the AM. We saw an overall 23% divergence in the morning vs 56% in the evening [meal].
Now the device has been upgraded with a new firmware, which claims to add hydration testing. With this update, the company are confidently predicting that they’re back, and that they can consign the buddy and frustrating early release to the history books and as a result, can start afresh. The early feedback was full of excitement at the potential but frustration with the execution. After 7 months staring at the drawing board, the company have taken the feedback on board and are back with their strongly worded marketing promotion.
This HealBe update to their $299 fitness band is claimed to be “another first of it’s kind technology”. The tech will monitor the amount of water that you’re taking in from food and drink, and it will also war you if/when you become dehydrated by gently buzzing your wrist. It’ll also factor the velocity of your calorie burning in order to hep you understand how this impacts your bodies fluid requirements. Once more, the premise is pretty epic.
The firmware update also improved the calorie counting. Previously, the early stage reviews noted that the device was most inaccurate when tracking smaller meals. This update is said to fix this, but again, for metabolic reasons, smaller meals will always be a greater challenge.
How does it do it? Well it used its FLOW tech, which is a mix of a accelerometer, piezo pressure sensor and impedance sensor. Mix in its algos, and its accurate to a reported 15% margin of error.