Almost two years ago, I found a cool little wearable gadget. A wearable data collector that could measure pulse, blood pressure, calories in, calories out, stress, sleep and some other data points as well. Everything would (aparantly) be measured automagically and displayed in cool ways. GoBe Healbe body manager is the name of this sci-fi gadget.
My bullshitometer hit the roof. For example the secret algorithms and that it was a totally unknown company that produced the gadget. They also claimed that with their secret ”Flow” technology, they would be able to measure the amount of calories you consume, and also map out the macro nutrients fat, carbs and protein with this secret technology. We researched the company and its claims thoroughly and decided to jump on th bandwagon. I bought one Gobe for myself and one for my wife, Tess
The Healbe Gobe crowfunding campaign became one of the most overfunded campaigns in Indiegogos history. Oddly though, Indiegogo decided to change their EULA during this campaign, to minimize their risk of beeing sued. Coincidence? Or did they protect their backs just in case?
The indiegogo campaign, Healbe and Gobe quickly became a target for harsh articles and massive critique, especially from Pando Daily and their contributor James Robinson. At times, it was as if James held a grudge towards Healbe and their founders. Strange enough, now that the Gobe is out in the wild Pando Daily haven´t published a word regarding Healbe, Gobe or the founders of the company.
What is crowdfunding
To shortly explain crowdfunding and sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter you can wiev a campaign as a investment, and the payoff you get as a contributor (investor) is the perks that the company chooses. Usually it is product when it gets released.
I have contributed to numerous campaigns and followed even more. As a rule of thumb, you can exepct someone producing a physical product to run into production problems and multiple delays. Narrative, Angel and Misfit are good examples of just that. The German GymWatch was delivered spot on, althogh the android app wasn´t avaliable upon release so not even the Germans can plan perfectly…
The importance of Communication
Healbe might have a cool gadget, but their communication skills are among the worst I´ve seen. Catastrophic to be honest. The Gobe campaign closed for about 18 months ago. Since then the delays, promises, broken promises and further delays have been as obvious as the non communication from Healbe.
The mood in the inofficial user group has been harsh and negative and Healbes PR attempts on facebook has ben met with vast amounts of negative comments and feedback. Mostly because of the lack of communication from Healbe to be honest.
It actually went so far that I wrote of the Gobe completely. Sure, I was hoping for a delivery, but I was at peace with the thought of not getting a Gobe.
Oh the joy of a surprice delivery
I got surpriced by the delivery from China, containing ”fitness devices” according to the shipping label.
Now I am the owner of a Healbe Gobe Body manager. I have had a week to get adjusted to it and have tried to get the hang of how it works and what to expect from it
Theese are my first impressions of the Healbe Gobe
The Gobe is marketed (and manufactured) as a water proof device. Unfortunatly, that means that Healbe has designed a proprietary charger for the Gobe. That sucks in many ways. Especially the way that you are supposed to charge your gobe.
This is how the manual states that the Gobe should be charged. Upside down, with the charger just laying on top of the Gobe. You don´t get any kind of confirmationwhen the gobe is charging, except a random ”Charging” every 45 seconds. This has led to a ”non charge” at 2 times of 7 this week. My wife got tired of her mishaps and cleverly decided to use our coffe machine as a charging station
In my mind, the clamp like design that Suunto uses is way better and something that Healbe should have used instead.
The Gobe is quite large and rectangle shaped. Suunto is actually a good comparison, Gobe sits on your wrist like a rectangle shaped Ambit2. The wrist band is oddly short though. My wrist measures 19,5 cm and I clamp it down at the fourth hole from the end.
The wrist band and especially the spanner is bulky leaning towards clumsy. Although I am not customed to large clocks and fitness devices since I´ve been sporting the ultra sleek and minimalistic Misfit Shine for the last two/three years.
The Gobe only has one button. You use it to turn the device on/off (with a three secon long press) When it starts you are greeted with a ”Hello” (or ”Gobe” depending on what firmware you have wich can be a little confusing in the beginning. Especially since the manual says Hello but your Gobe will say Gobe.
One short press of the button toggles between time, battery state, pulse, kcal status, steps, and km travelled. When you eat something containing 300 kcals or more, you are supposed to press the button for about two seconds untill your Gobe vibrates and displays ”FOOD”
The button it self is poorly designed and it takes a while (and many tries) to get a hang of how the button should be pressed.
The Gobe has an internal memory large enough to contain a weeks worth of data, so even if you can´t sync with your smartphone you should be good to go anyway.
The display of the gobe is blue LEDs wich makes it kind of hard to see in sunlight, but nice and bright otherwise.
The Gobe communicates with your smartphone (android and ios that is, no winphones) and has an app that visualizes the data. Your data is also uploaded to Healbes servers so you can view your data via your browser as well.
Everytime you start the app, it will automatically sync your data. The app will ask you if you have eaten within certain times, and sometimes the app will display that you have been sleeping, but still it asks you if you ate at that time. These ”Did you eat at…?” questions is so that the Gobe can interpret its measurments and become better at showing when you ate, and how much you ate.
Me and my wife have different user experiences with the sync. For me, it takes a long time and I usually have to force close the app and restart it to get the sync to work. We both have a Samsung Galaxy S5, wich is kind of interesting. I tried to sync while writing this paragraph, but it stopped at 84%. After a restart, the app synced in all the data.
Wear n tear
I was actually amazed/horrified when I washed me GoBe this morning.
I don´t think that this is acceptable. Or something that should occur. Unfortunatly, I´m developing somewhat of a rash on my left arm as well, aligned with the corrosion on the Gobe
Quality of the collected data
I´m not really sure about the quality of the collected data. Mostly because that I don´t really have any reliable reference points. The Gobe collects the following data:
I´ve only used the Gobe for a week, so I will not go into details regarding the accuracy of the data (yet). Although I find it alarming that an automatic body manager claims that I have gone without eating for two days this week?
My initial impression is that the energy graph is really cool though:
The figures seems roughly accurate, especially with regards to the amount of beer, snacks and food I consumed that day. I will do a week of measuring my macros and counting my calories since that is the only way I truly can say how good the Gobe measurements is. I should probably do a week of trash eating and a week of low carb diet just to see the difference as well.
I can measure the amounts of steps I take though, since the step counter in my Galaxy S5, S Health, is really good and accurate. The Gobe counts about 1500 more steps per 10000 steps compared to S Health. Ie, if S Health shows that I have taken 9000 steps, the Gobe will show 10 500 steps. Yesterday I had taken 23918 steps accourding to S Health and the Gobe shows 28774. That is way to big of a difference to be usable.
This day was kind of active. We slept until 8 in the morning, had a calm breakfast and then we worked until we ate lunch at 12 o clock. Then we worked some more, had the typical Swedish ”fika” and after that I went discgolfing. That was followed by more work, dinner and couch surfing for the rest of the evening with food, snacks, wine and beer. This is how Gobe interpreted that:
Time wise, it works out. If the level of kcal in and out is correct is another thing though. Energy expenditure is kind of easy to calculate since Gobe knows my weight, pulse, sex and age. That together with BMR (Basic Metabolic Rate) makes the expenditure graph good enough, and will probably be a good way for some to get motivated.
Both me and my wife got dissapointed when we realized that there is nothing ”automatic” when it comes to tracking your water balance. This gadget is advertized as ”100% automatic body manager” but you need to open up the app, wait for the sync, go to water balance and tap a glass to indicate that you drank. For me, this isn´t a big deal but I think many will be put down by this UI design.
I can´t grasp what Gobe bases the water intake goals on. To my knowledge the human body has a vast need for water, but most of the fluids we need we eat since everething you eat contains water. Gobe has told me that I have a water need from 3200 – 5700 ml per day, wich seems like a lot. To much actually. As you can see I still have 3218 ml until my daily goal
Heart (ie pulse and blood pressure)
I can´t understand how Gobe can measure my blood pressure. It is kind of odd, since you have to personalize your gobe by stating your resting BP. This tells me that Gobe detects a fluctuation of something, and based on your inital setup it calculates your blood pressure. I´m going to the hospital to get my BP taken by professionals so that I have a reference point further on.
You also have to state your resting hart rate, wich is odd since the Gobe can measure your pulse.
Accourding to Gobe, I have a BP of 135/58 and a pulse of 66. If I meaure my pulse with S health I have 70 and when measured in the good old fashioned manual manner, I count to 74 beats per minute.
The pulse graph illustrates the day pretty good:
The HR data I have recorded has only been low intensity training so far. I will compare it with an HR monitor while lifting weights, running, cykling and fighting so I get a good reference point for that to.
I´m really not interested in measuring and tracking my sleep, but for some this is an important feature. This is how Gobe has tracked my sleep:
I know for a fact that I was awake at 04.00 since the dogs and a skype talking son woke me up and I looked at the clock then. I also managed to get some REM sleep and remember my dream, which usually never happens but accourding to the Gobe this was exactly what happend. How Gobe detects bradycardia and arrhythmia is beyond me, but your pulse, BP and sleep movement is probably considered.
This is, in my opinion, the data collection/visualisation that is the most bogus of them all. Your sleep, BP, pulse levels are some of the factors that Gobe considers while determing if you are stressed or not. According to the release notes in the latest app uppdate, the algorithm should also consider time zone changes…
Closing statements with pros and cons
One thing that is obvious is that this is a typical 1.0 version of a product. It is good, but not as polished as it will be in a couple of iterations. For example, if you can´t connct to your Goby, keep trying until it works. Eventually it will.
Healbe Gobe body manager is actually really cool, but I have come to doubt the collected data. It doesn´t really matter if the data is a little bit of, as long as it is consictanly off since the trends are what is the most interesting in my mind.
- The Gobe shuts of while charging. Not a big deal, but you will forget it and miss valuable data. It seems that it shuts it self of after a certain time without contact (ie displaying No Contact).
- The charger. Poorly design with out user consideration (hint: be inspired by Suunto)
- The button. Needs to be more distinct and easy to press.
- Squash those bugs! The android app needs more development time. I haven´t tested the iOS app
- Battery time. You will need to charge your Gobe daily. If you want to track your sleep thee only window of opportunity is then to charge the Gobe when you get out of bed and put it on before you eat breakfast.
- No more happy feet. Counting steps isn´t that hard, but to give that many extra steps isn´t really cool. (this will probably be fixed in the next firmware upgrade)
- Water. Fix it or remove it. There are plenty of water tracking apps out there. To claim to be a 100% automatic body manager and then force the user to manually count water is counterproductive
- Availability. You can acces your data on your wrist, in your phone or on the webb. Exactly how it is supposed to be done
- Coolness. An ice breaker. A conversation piece. You should be prepared to tell people what the Gobe is and how it works
- Simple and stylish. The app, the webbsite and Healbes ads are consistently good looking. The visualization is good and data is easy to understand.
Except the cons, I would like to see the following improvements:
- Body weight. Why would a body tracker not track your body weight?
- To determin what is displayed on the Gobes display and in wich order items are displayed.
- Gameification. Goalsetting and notifications would be a great addition for a body manager
- Go social. Gobe is remarkably anti social, considering the companies history and that we live in the shareholic era. As it is now, you can´t share your data on facebook, twitter, instagram etc
- Connect with runkeeper, sports tracker, endomondo etc.
- Connect with Withings wifi scale would enable automatic body weight updates.
- Long term graphs. As of now, you can only view day to day measurments. To show trends over weeks, months, years would be good.
- Comparisons so that we can compare days or specific times with other days and times..
- Ortostatic alarm
- Get notifications of differences in resting heart rate since it is an indicator of over training or beginning infection
- Export and download posibility of your data
- Termination funktion for ensuring that all your data is removed from Healbes servers
If you wan´t a second opinion, here is Box500 that have been Gobeing for a month: