Basis adds Zeo-like advanced sleep tracking to wristworn tracker

By: Brian Dolan | Jan 3, 2014        

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Basis Sleep TrackingAhead of CES in Las Vegas next week San Francisco-based Basis Science announced a new advanced sleep analysis feature for its wristworn, multisensor health tracker as well as a new Carbon Steel Edition of the device that it promises will fit more snuggly and look more premium than its more plastic predecessor.

The new Basis Carbon Steel Edition includes “polished chrome details and stretchable, silicone black straps that allow for improved flexibility and breathability for all-day wear,” according to the company. The new device is available now from Basis’ website for $199, will be available on Amazon soon, and is heading to 500 of the top Best Buy stores around the country starting February 2nd.

Both the Carbon Steel Edition and the company’s original B1 device users will have the advanced sleep feature, which is the centerpiece feature for the version 2.0 update to Basis’ app. The 2.0 app will hit appstores on January 21st.

Basis Science’s trackers still have more sensors than any of the other leading wearables on the market today. The company has long said this multisensor approach would help it win the long game.

“As you know it takes a long time to build great consumer hardware, but also to build the user experience, the insights and the algorithms on top of the hardware,” Basis Science Co-founder and COO Bharat Vasan told MobiHealthNews. “When we first started Basis we planned to build a product that gave you real insight into what your body was going through, not just tracking motion, but looking at things like continuous heart rate, temperature, perspiration — real metrics about your body. Then we could give you insights that you simply can’t get from a Fitbit or a Jawbone — or any kind of motion-based tracker. Fast forward to now, you’ve got advanced sleep analysis, which is by far — head and shoulders — above any other sleep analysis [offering] you’ll find on the market.”

Vasan said the new sleep analysis feature is “almost clinical grade” but also easy to use because it’s a wristworn device that autodetects when the wearer falls asleep. Once it’s on your wrist — and assuming it’s charged up — it tracks your sleep quality automatically.

“With advanced sleep analysis we are able to do REM sleep, which nobody else can do, and which is what your mind needs to consolidate memories,” Vasan said. “[We can do] deep sleep, which your body needs to recover. As well as things like toss and turn, sleep score, interruptions, benchmarking against where you have been and where you are headed.”

Basis Science worked with researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the Northern California Institute of Research and Education to validate its advanced sleep analysis feature and compare its results to medical grade devices as well as the more limited sleep tracking features of other leading activity trackers. Vasan said Basis also used hours of videos of people sleeping to tweak its toss and turn sensing abilities and make sure the data was correlating with what the wearer was actually going through.

While Basis trackers offer more sensors than most other devices, the company stresses its behavior change platform and habits features over its technological capabilities. With the new sleep analysis features, Basis is launching with simple sleep habits.

“We are starting out with getting more sleep or getting the right amount of sleep just to keep things simple for people,” Vasan said. “We are trying to figure out how to create a habit like get the right amount of REM sleep, and make that actionable for people. We benchmark people against themselves to give them a sense from a behavior change perspective where they are, but each person’s sleep quality is pretty personal so there is no high level [or] ‘gold level’ sleep score that you should get. We have an exponential average so people can compare themselves to their lifetime of sleep, so people can see if they are improving over time vs not. We do that for each of their phases of sleep, too.”

Considering the high profile shuttering of sleep tracking company Zeo, which also offered advanced sleep analysis features similar to the kind of data Basis will now present its users, it is still something of an open question as to how many people care to track their sleep quality in-depth. Vasan says people do care about their sleep quality.

“Three quarters of Americans have some kind of trouble sleeping and about 40 percent of them don’t get the right amount of sleep,” he said. “And I think it is important that this is a form factor that is easy for people to use. It’s one form factor — a wrist-based band — that is able to cover other things as well besides sleep like activity and stress. When people have one product that does a lot of things around their health it becomes a lot more valuable. As opposed to just doing one thing. I also think that Zeo had the unfortunate head band thing, which wasn’t super comfortable to sleep with. If you go into medical grade solutions, people with sleep apnea are told to wear masks at night. [Neither] of those are great lifestyle solutions for people to use day in and day out. Basis — with a really familiar form factor — makes it a lot easier.”