A useful tool for healthy lifestyle changes.
Eight years ago, I decided to make some dramatic changes in my life. I made a commitment to eat better and exercise more. My goal was to be healthier and lose weight. I was tracking everything by hand and entering it manually into various mobile apps, which was a painstaking process. In the long run, it paid off because I had the data I needed to make my life smarter. I did all of that without any activity trackers. With today’s technology, I believe I can be even more successful in health endeavors because I can concentrate on what I’m doing rather than all the minute details like calorie counting and nutrient education. With devices like the Healbe GoBe 2, people who are trying to get into shape can concentrate on that rather than what is going on in their bodies because the GoBe 2 tracks it all.
The GoBe 2 Smart Life Band is an automatic body manager and the only consumer wearable device that tracks your calorie intake, hydration levels, and other lifestyle parameters like heart rate and stress levels. GoBe 2 is considered a ‘specialized wellness tracker’ and is not really in the same league as general purpose fitness trackers. The creator’s of the GoBe 2 believe that making real change in your lifestyle requires that you address underlying lifestyle issues and this smart band can help you do just that.
The GoBe 2 is very similar in nature to other fitness trackers. You wear it on your wrist and allow the sensor to stay in contact with your skin. The smart band is a bit larger than other bands in its class, but that is because of the advanced sensor system and larger 370 mAh battery inside the main body. The band is designed to stay in contact with you and continually take readings of your body. Therefore, the battery can last up to 48 hours with continual use. The GoBe 2 charges using a snap-on charging cradle. This dock lives separately from a cable so in order to activate it, you must plug it into a power source using the provided Micro USB to USB-A charging cable. According to its specs, it should fully charge within 30-60 minutes.
The GoBe 2 works using Healbe FLOW technology. It measures your calorie intake via sensors through your skin by reading the glucose levels in your cells. According to their website, they completed independent testing of their technology and had an average error of 15%. Because calorie measurements are taken from the cellular glucose concentration, it can take up to 2 hours after food ingestion for those levels to spike. Therefore, those readings are on a delay. The GoBe 2 will break down the caloric intake into estimates for carbs/fat/protein and net calorie deficit or surplus.
This smart band tracks your stress level, sleep quality/quantity, and hydration levels. It will send a notification to your wrist in the form of a buzz to tell you when you need to drink to rehydrate yourself. The GoBe 2 will also make you aware of the quality of your sleep cycles and recommend how much sleep you should have the next day in order to make up for poor sleep or daily activities.
The GoBe 2 also tracks your movement. Its internal sensor will track/count your steps and distance traveled while a pulse wave sensor measures your heart rate. The combination of these pieces of information make it possible for the GoBe 2 to know when you are active and when you are not.
The packaging for the GoBe 2 is actually quite interesting. It’s a display case that shows off the design of the smart band and when you open it, you will find the charging dock, charging cable, and user manual for the device.
Set up of the GoBe 2 was pretty easy. Once it’s connected to your phone/app, you simply followed the on-screen instructions to get your account set up. I had to update the firmware, which took a few minutes. Then I could complete my profile. After that, it’s really just a matter of letting the smart band record data.
The GoBe 2 was a lot different than other activity trackers I’ve used. For starters, it works best if you wear it 100% of the day. That is, of course, impossible because of the need for recharging. It was suggested to me by Healbe that I let it charge while I was getting ready in the morning, but before having breakfast. When you wear it as much as possible, you will notice that the battery life decreases quite a bit. I tried to wear it for 2 days straight and the device died on me. The problem with that is that when it dies completely, it takes longer to recharge it, which means that it’s off of your wrist longer.
One of the first observations I made had to deal with the comfort level. I have been wearing a 38mm Apple Watch consistently since it was released in 2015. I have also worn other activity trackers like the Garmin Vivofit. So, I am used to wearing something on my wrist and having a scanner on me. The GoBe 2 has a much larger body than either of those devices. Because of that, it took me a while to get adjusted to having something that large on my wrist. I did find that if I wore it more on my arm — just past my wrist bone — than on my hand, it was more comfortable to wear.
It has a permanently attached band, which ended up causing me some issues as well. I believe that I have sensitive skin on my wrists because the sport-style activity bands for smart devices end up eventually causing me to have rashes. This happened with the Apple Watch Sport band and also the Vivofit’s band. I found that it didn’t occur anymore when I switched to a band that allowed the skin to breathe. Unfortunately, that isn’t an option with the GoBe 2 because of its permanent band. I would love to see it have an option to swap out bands because I know that I’m not the only person who has this issue.
The app is really intuitive and once you have the initial data entered, all you typically use it for is syncing the data from your GoBe 2. I really like how the data is presented — first in chart form and then in written form. I didn’t really have an accurate way to test how close the readings were to ‘real’, but I did try to match typical activity level and heart rate against what the Apple Watch measures and what my Sleep Number bed captured as far as sleep goes. I found that the two devices were pretty close to each other’s readings. One day, I actually wore both the Apple Watch and the GoBe 2 at the same time (one on each wrist). The results below show what my sleep was like the night before and what my activity levels were like on a typical morning for me.
- SLEEP: The GoBe 2 recorded that I had 5 hours and 39 minutes of sleep, while the Sleep Number bed showed that I had 5 hours and 38 minutes of sleep. The GoBe 2 measured that 78% of my total sleep time was rated as ‘restful.’ The Sleep Number bed showed that 90% of it was.
- ACTIVITY: Both the Apple Watch and the GoBe 2 will measure step count and distance. For a period of 2.5 hours on a typical morning, the Apple Watch recorded 2,126 steps and 1.01 miles while the GoBe 2 only showed 1,742 steps and 0.76 miles.
- CALORIC ENERGY: Both the Apple Watch and GoBe 2 measure how many calories are being burned throughout your day. The GoBe 2 measures Calories Burned, which is determined by your activity levels and combined with your heart rate. The Apple Watch breaks down calories burned into Active Energy (energy burned over and above your Resting Energy use) and Resting Energy (energy your body uses when minimally active). During the same 2.5 hour period as the Activity category, the Apple Watch showed 810 kCal Resting Energy and 127 kCal Active Energy. The GoBe 2 measured 938 kCal.
- HEART RATE: In order to accurately compare the heart rate measurements between the Apple Watch and GoBe 2, I picked out a few separate times and recorded their readings. You can see by the figures in the chart below that at certain times the two devices are very different in their readings. A 6:55 a.m., I was leaving the house. At 7:35 a.m., I was arriving at work and unpacking my meals for the day. By 8:02 a.m., I was sitting at my desk and starting work.
|GoBe 2||Apple Watch|
The comparison between the GoBe 2 and the other tracking devices was somewhat eye-opening. I know that the differences in readings do at times have to do with how a particular device is taking those readings and in this case, all three devices I was looking at were using very different methods of data collection. I will say that I feel the GoBe 2 is accurate in its measurements even though it differs at times from other devices.
I found it interesting that the GoBe 2 was able to break down my activity into table work and daily routine calculations. I did not make notes anywhere in the app about what I was doing during certain times of the day. So, I am assuming that the device looks at what you are doing and relates it to the time of day automatically.
The Stress Level calculation was also an interesting revelation to me because it broke out ‘emotional’ stress from other types of stress. Again, I’m not entirely sure how the device calculates that since I wasn’t indicating what was going on in my life at that moment. I know that technically, the sensor on the band measures the amount of moisture in my skin, but beyond that, I don’t know how it can be sure about what is going on in my life. Finally, I noticed that the sensor on the underside of the main body — the part that touches my skin — became discolored after continued use. I would expect some signs of wear, but the discoloration was a bit odd. It didn’t hurt me, but the device was definitely changed after use.
The GoBe 2 is a really interesting device and I can see how it would help someone who is trying get into shape or even someone who has to keep a close eye on things like heart rate, stress, and caloric intake. The only thing I don’t really like is that the data seems to only be saved in the Healbe app for 7 days. If you sync it to Apple Health, then the data is saved longer and you can always look up historical data through Healbe’s web interface, but I would like to be able to review more data then just 7 days especially if I am looking for specific trends. It would be a great option to have the ability to export data into a different format like Excel or a CSV file so that you can analyze it on a desktop or even review it easier with a physician or other medical personnel. Aside from the few hiccups I had, I think the GoBe 2 is a handy device. I am eager to see future versions of it and how Healbe will improve the design as technology will allow.
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