Jawbone finally kills support for BodyMedia devices

By Jonah Comstock
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Last month saw the last vestige of BodyMedia, the FDA-cleared consumer-facing wearable device company acquired by Jawbone in 2013, slip away. On January 31st the company officially stopped making BodyMedia Fit device data available to users and shut down the BodyMedia website (it now redirects to Jawbone’s site), essentially rendering the devices useless.

“On Jan 31, 2016 support for BodyMedia Fit mobile and web applications will officially come to an end. This page is designed to help BodyMedia customers understand the impact of those changes. We'd like to thank our customers for their loyalty throughout the years,” the company wrote in a message to users subsequently posted to a Quantified Self forum. “BodyMedia Fit service is going away beginning at 11:59 pm ET Jan 31, 2016. After that time, you will no longer be able to access BodyMedia Fit on mobile or web, and a few days after your last sync, your BodyMedia Fit armband will stop working.”

Almost immediately after the April 2013 acquisition it became clear that Jawbone wasn’t interested in the BodyMedia brand or business so much as the company’s large patent portfolio (parts of which are at the heart of the company’s ongoing legal dispute with rival Fitbit). No new BodyMedia devices were released after the acquisition though several were announced beforehand. BodyMedia CEO Christine Robins left the company — and the wearable industry — in April 2014 to become president and CEO of Char-Broil, a grill company. Jawbone officially stopped selling BodyMedia devices in October 2014.

But up until now, those who already owned BodyMedia devices or bought them secondhand still had access to the data those devices collected. As Buzzfeed reported, that’s no longer the case, much to the chagrin of some members of the Quantified Self community who still used the device. Jawbone informed users of the shut down in mid-December and gave them one month to download their data from their servers, but only offered daily summaries. User Greg Schwartz created, and posted, a workaround for obtaining minute by minute data.

BodyMedia is still beloved by researchers and data geeks for its accuracy and the granularity of the data it made available to users, which many maintain remains unmatched, partly because most mass-market devices are wristbands rather than armbands. But those advantages — not to mention endorsements from NBC’s The Biggest Loser and fitness celebrity Jillian Michaels — were apparently not enough to drive mass-market success for the brand.