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Basis watch keeps eye on health

This health tracker measures heart rate, body movement, and skin temperature, plus sleep.

The Basis heath tracker will ship in white and black. Basis Science

San Francisco startup Basis Science confirmed pricing and availability for its Basis health tracker today. The $199 watch-style gadget hits the market in early December, continuing the evolution of wearable fitness technology for everyday consumers.

With a complement of four sensors at its disposal, the Basis device is capable of measuring a wide range of biometric data in real time. First is an optical blood flow monitor that uses light to detect how hard your heart is beating. Like other fitness gizmos, the Basis watch has a three-axis accelerometer to record how much you move and how active you are. A perspiration sensor pays attention to sweat levels as well while a special thermometer logs skin and ambient temperature.

Also pretty slick is how the Basis watch will record how well you sleep, automatically, without you having to remember to press a button before you hit the sack. It's the first personal fitness gadget I've heard of that's capable of doing this. Like the Jawbone Up, the Basis is designed to be durable enough to stay on your wrist for extended periods of time, even in the shower.

The Basis watch has four sensors for tracking. Basis Science

But what's the point of capturing all this data? Basis Science CEO Jef Holove told CNET that the idea behind the device and the Basis system is to provide a fitness system that passively runs in the background. "It's not just about tracking but how activity affects your body," Holove said. He further explained, "The idea here is to create habits and goals to measure yourself against, and consistency is key for achieving this."

To that end, the Basis tracker provides over 10 different examples of what the company calls Healthy Habits. They run the gamut from getting more sleep, to moving more, to simply wearing the watch every day.

Currently you can check and manipulate your Basis data only through a Web interface, but the startup says mobile apps for both iOS and Android are in the works. With these apps users will eventually be able to harness the watch's built-in Bluetooth radio to sync on the go. For now, you'll have to stick with the USB charging cradle to handle syncing. Stay tuned, as we hope to have a full review of the Basis tracker soon.