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Dan Iaboni

Dan Iaboni

Ph.D - Chief Experience Officer

Ready to Wear? Evaluating the experience with Jawbone UP24

The year 2014 was proclaimed to be the year of wearable technology so I decided to give one of the more successful products a try to evaluate the experience with the current set of wearable’s. Looking at the devices on the market two types of devices are evident: watches that are extensions of your phone (Pebble Watch,  Samsung Gear ), and wristbands that are  intended for health and fitness tracking (Nike Fuel, Jawbone UP, Fitbit).  I decided that for a long term adoption of wearable technology into everyday life, the devices have to demonstrate value and usefulness beyond being simply another communication device, so I decided to focus on fitness related devices. Of the 3 dominant products on the market, I decided to go with the Jawbone UP24, having a generally positive experience with my Jawbone Jambox, as well as the UP24 appearing to be one of the more advanced devices.

The Wearable Technology Purchase

I decided to purchase my Jawbone in the store since I felt uncomfortable selecting a size (S, M, L) when I didn’t have string/paper and ruler to measure my wrist size.  The package is well designed in that they provide a template that you can try on your wrist to see if the band would fit.  Unfortunately, the product was locked up behind glass, so it was not a simple try and buy experience.  I suggest taking the time to measure your wrist at home and purchase online to save yourself a lot of inconvenience.

The Band

I really liked the wraparound design of the band, see Figure 1. The lack of a buckle on the band allows you to easily and quickly take off and on the band if you are not planning on wearing it all the time, or when you are going to get wet. Despite the rubberized look and feel of the band, the device is not waterproof, so it’s not for use when swimming.  The one concern is that it is possible to damage the band by bending the band too much and since that point of bend is not clear, I always took the band on and off with some trepidation.

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Figure 1 Jawbone UP24

One end of the band has a button for switching between day and night modes or when you need to turn the band on. The other end has a cap that covers the port for charging the band, see Figure 2.  Ideally the band would be able to determine when you were going to sleep without having the user directly interacting, but the current wearable technology is not that intuitive yet.  The other major problem is that the charging cap is not connected to the band, so when it is removed, there is the possibility of losing the cap. (Note to Jawbone, if you have to sell extra caps on your website for people that lose theirs, it’s probably time to revisit the design!) The other annoyance is that the band is connected through a headphone type jack, which then connects to any USB port to charge.  The actual jack is slightly smaller than the one used on your headphones, so I couldn’t plug it into my iPhone for a quick charge, and when I misplaced my cable, I was required to buy a new one from Jawbone. Use of a mini-USB port for charging would allow me to use a standard cable from any of my other devices.

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Figure 2 Hardware design of the UP24

The Wearable Technology App

Getting started with the UP24 is pretty straightforward once you download the app on to your iOS or Android device.  Make sure your device is compatible before purchasing. My iPad worked, but my iPhone 4 was too old.

The system will then ask a series of basic demographic questions (age, height, weight), as well as any behavioral questions to setup a program (activity goals, wake up time, etc.)  I assume that the recommended activity and sleep amounts are customized based on my personal information, but that is not clearly communicated.

If you have the UP24 which communicates via Bluetooth, versus the UP, launching the app will synch the band so that all your data is downloaded.  As someone that regularly forgets to plug in my phone to charge overnight, I knew that I would never remember to plug the UP in to synch, so the automatic synch on the UP24 is worth the additional money. I would expect that features like this should be standard on future wearable technology devices.

Once your data is synched you will see the main page as shown in Figure 3 below. From here you can scroll down to see summaries of your activities and sleep patterns over the last few days. The colour coding is not clearly explained.  Does the size and colour of the bars on the activity graph indicate just the amount of activity, or the amount and intensity?

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Figure 3 Main page in UP App

You can access the band menu, as shown in figure 4, where you can configure any behaviours of band and get status information. One of the factors of the UP24 that appealed to me was the possibility of setting up an alarm that wakes you up based on where you are in your sleep cycle to reduce sleep inertia, aka the grogginess you feel waking up even after a full nights rest.  Setting up the alarm was straightforward. First, you pick a desired time to wake up, and then a window for when the system can wake you based on the sleep cycle.

The only problem I had was that the alarm (the band vibrating) didn’t wake me up.  As well, I found that the band was unable to determine where I was in my sleep cycle, so I continued to experience the effects of sleep inertia.  The activity alarms were useful for providing feedback when I had been inactive for too long, which is useful when you work in front of a computer all day.

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Figure 4 Band setup menu

The main menu, see Figure 5, gives you access to all the programs to help maximize the usefulness of the UP24.  You can set your target levels of activity and sleep, and then track you performance over time.  Similar to other fitness bands, you can share your performance with others in the UP community to compete or share your progress.

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Figure 5 App Menu

The UP24 also includes the ability to track information that is not captured by the band.  If desired, you can manually log the food you eat and drink, as shown in Figure 6.  The app provides a library of common items for you to quickly select, you can manually enter in items that are not available and there is a barcode scanner for adding in new items.  Keep in mind that you also need to have your devices with you throughout the day. Since UP24 didn’t work with my phone, and I do not always have my tablet, I could not always record what I consumed.

Akendi wearable tech experience review

Figure 6 Food Log

One of the drawbacks is that the band does not record the activity levels for all types of exercise.  During the winter I walked everywhere but once the snow cleared I was on my bike, which was not recorded. So I would synch my UP24 at the end of day and it would look like I hadn’t exercised.  I could go into the system and manually record each time and duration of my bike trip, but realistically, since I never tracked the information before the purchase of the band, I had no intentions of creating more work for myself after purchasing the band.  A nice interaction I found with the activity logger was the slider behaviour for effort level.  Sliding up or down changed the fill on the activity icon, see right on Figure 7.  I would suggest making the slide behaviour a little more obvious and moving the label that represents the currently selected effort level.

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Figure 7 Manual Activity Log

This slider behaviour is used to great effect in the mood selection function, see Figure 8, where users can record their emotional state throughout the day. Again, this is something that in the future you would expect the system to evaluate automatically.

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Figure 8 Emotional Log

All your activity and entries throughout the day can be viewed through a summary view, see figure 9, by scrolling up from the main page, which I did not discover until recently. Unlike below the main page, there is no visual indication that there is information above.

Akendi Experience review Activity summary screen

Figure 9 Recent Activity Summary

Wearable Tech Experience Summary

With some changes to the design of the band (cap cover, charging port), the UP24 could be an excellent device. The app is visually pleasing and  relatively easy to setup and use. However, the reliance on a large amount of manual recording (food, emotions, activity not captured by the band) really means that device is only useful for individuals that are committed to making the effort of tracking their day.  I found that I used the device initially to get a sense of my general activity level to determine if I needed to increase the amount of exercise. Once I knew that information, I stopped using the device on a daily basis. So, if you are a power user that needs daily tracking to reach performance or health goals, than this is the device for you. If you just wanted to get a sense of your activity level, borrow one from a friend for a week.

In terms of the state of wearable devices, the UP24 is a well-designed device that appeals to a small user segment but the technology is not at a state where there will be widespread appeal.  Hopefully, Jawbone can build off the success of the UP24 and continue to improve rather than following Nike and pulling the plug on the future of wearable computing.

Dan Iaboni

Dan Iaboni

Ph.D - Chief Experience Officer

Dan firmly believes that technology must be created with the user in mind. Never shy to critique a bad design, Dan uses the Akendi blog to shine a spotlight on usability mistakes…and their solutions. Leveraging his background in engineering, computer science, psychology, and anthropology, Dan offers a unique perspective on the latest UX trends and techniques.


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Akendi is a human experience design firm, leveraging equal parts experience research and creative design excellence. We provide strategic insights and analysis about customer and user behaviour and combine this knowledge with inspired design. The results enable organizations to improve effectiveness, engage users and provide remarkable customer experiences to their audiences.