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Wearable Tech

Basis Band senses health, offers advice (hands-on)

If you need a watch that not only tells time but listens to your heart, and measures movement and sleep too, then the $199 Basis Band may be just the ticket.

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LAS VEGAS--A big trend at CES this year is wearable tech, meaning essentially any smart gadget you clip, strap, or pocket to carry around. Part pedometer, heart rate monitor, and sleep tracker, the $199 Basis Band certainly fits the bill.

Like many of the new personal tech products shown at CES 2013, the Basis Band looks like a simple, if large, digital watch at first glance. The device has a soft rubber strap that comes in white and black, though Basis Science promises that more colors are on the way.

Design
A small rectangular LCD screen dominates most of the Band's front face. Four silver studlike buttons sit on the corners of the display. The right-hand buttons function as menu navigation keys while the lower left scrolls through the product's many functions.

The only real physical clue this not your average timepiece are two LEDs on the watch's underside, which occasionally flash green. The LEDs are surrounded by six more silver stud-shaped sensors. This entire setup is designed to measure your blood flow and extrapolate heart rate in real time. The watch will also take note of skin temperature and perspiration levels while it's strapped to your wrist.

Data helps it get to know you better
Why all the fancy sensory hardware? Basis Science says that the Band is essentially a lifestyle product envisioned as monitoring multiple factors of behavior and biometric responses. For instance, the gizmo's accelerometer logs steps taken and calculates calories burned. The Band also uses the accelerometer to figure out the quality and duration of your sleep.

Most impressively, however, the Basis Band will integrate all this biometric data to paint a picture of your health. It will also recommend healthy habit badges to unlock through measured behavior. You can view all this via a companion Android app (iPhone app coming soon), or via a Web browser and Basis account.

Outlook
When I spent some hands-on time with the Basis Band, the watch felt well-made, wasn't too heavy, and looked attractive enough. Its futuristic styling is minimalist too, but probably not for analog watch purists. The Android app seemed to operate pretty smoothly and to provide plenty of ways to dive into your performance data over time. As they say, though, the proof is in the pudding. I'll reserve my final judgment until I can get a Basis Band wrapped around my wrist for a while.

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