While fitness bands like the Jawbone UP and the Nike FuelBand require you to manually log what you’ve eaten, the HealBe GoBe measures your glucose levels to tell you your calorie intake. It can also tell you how many calories you’ve burned, so you can tell at a glance how much of a Fat Day it’s been.
You cannot lie to GoBe
Most wearable fitness gadgets use the same sensors to measure the same things –GPS, motion, temperature, heart rate and so on. The GoBe uses a combination of three sensors to work out your calorie balance: a pressure sensor for constant heart rate monitoring, an impedance sensor for measuring the fluid levels in your tissue, and an accelerometer to judge how much you’ve been moving (just like regular fitness bands). You don’t input anything, and the GoBe shows you your energy intake and output on a companion app. Manufacturer Healbe claims it’ll even tell you your stress levels, how well you’ve slept and how hydrated you are.
A great idea and a horrible idea at the same time
On the one hand, this is a fabulous piece of technology that could change people’s lives for the better. When you’re trying to lose weight it’s very easy to ‘misreport’ your diet, because let’s face it, the only good thing about being an adult is that you can have cheese ‘n’ chip butties made with banana bread every night without getting told off. A constant readout of the energy you’re actually taking on could help you cut down to two bags of Wotsits per lunchtime.
On the other hand, we’re not sure we want this smug little cakewatcher strapped to our wrists at all times. So what if I got a Cornish pasty in the train station on the way to work, GoBe? That’s when they’re fresh. And yes, GoBe, I got one on the way home, and yes, GoBe, I’m going to end up morbidly obese and unloved, drowning in a waterbed of my own flesh. Thanks for reminding me, GoBe. Thanks a bunch.
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UPDATED 6/4/2014: A report on PandoDaily has called the GoBe's capabilities into question.
The report says, "...all of the experts we spoke to agreed that an impedance monitor has no way of making any meaningful correlation between the level of fluid in our body and glucose levels."
Furthermore, "...even if Healbe could do this first part, measuring glucose in our cells through the skin, there’s no way to take that glucose reading and deduce caloric intake," PandoDaily's quoted medical experts argue.
HealBe has responded with a white paper explaining how the technology works, and quotes its own medical expert to support its claims.
We certainly hope it functions as promised, but without conclusive evidence proving GoBe's capabilities, we'd suggest exercising caution before pledging to support it on IndieGogo. We'll update this story with more information as we get it.