Bluetooth audio accessory company Jawbone is extending its line into health and fitness. Later this year the company will launch a motion-recording wristband called Up that will connect to smartphone apps. It will be able to discern when its user is exercising, sleeping, or eating, Jawbone founder Hosain Rahman told me.
Rahman announced the product at the TEDGlobal conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, on Tuesday. It was, he says, more of a concept launch than a product release. He did not disclose when the product will be available or how much it will cost. Rather, he was hoping to generate interest in the product and its mission, and build buzz to get developers and partners interested in working with the Up. "I want to mobilize the TED community to come up with ideas," he says.
Rahman believes the Up can help alleviate some of the strain that poor fitness puts on people and healthcare systems. It's a "massive problem," he says, and if we "understand data about ourselves," we will be more likely to take action to be more healthy.
He adds, "I was 60 pounds lighter when I started this company."
This fitness product is an interesting extension for a company known for engineering high-quality Bluetooth audio products (the Jawbone line of headsets, and more recently the Jambox speaker system). Now, Rahman says, "we build products and services for the mobile lifestyle," which does seem like a bit of a softening of focus for the company.
But it does appear to be a good time for Jawbone to extend. It's still got start-up vigor, and it is well-funded, to the tune of $170 million raised. Jawbone has shown the ability to iterate a product line: Its first headset was wired, predated Bluetooth, and looked like a medical device; its current product is the standard bearer in its field, according to CNET reviews (and also my experience). The new Jambox speaker product, to Jawbone's credit, was a success at launch.
But its foray into smartphone software, the "Thoughts" voice messaging app for iPhone, has not been as successful as its hardware products, so it does make sense for the company to attempt to generate developer interest for the Up, which will require strong software to get consumer traction.