Healbe Gobe review after a weeks usage

First, a disclaimer: I have not been endorsed or reimbursed by Healbe in any way. I am not affiliated with any Healbe Gobe competitor. I have funded lots of crowd sourcing campaing before (and will do in the future as well).

I am experienced in training, well oriented when it comes to app support for fitness/training and I am competent when it comes to nutrition. I also beleive firmly in the quantified self, body logging and big/smart data. This is also not scientific data since there is only one, non blinded subject in this studie and no reference group, but I have tried to approach this in a scientific manner so that you can reproduce the data.

The short version of the Gobe review

This is a long post, cause I want you to be able to draw your own conclusions of my experience. But the short version is: The Healbe Gobe doesn´t deliver on any of its promises. It is faulty at best, buggy, looses connection and suffers from poor design. If you have the amount of money and want to spend it on a gobe, you´ll feel better if you donate it to charity instead.  Stay away from the Gobe. It doesn´t matter how much they upgrade the algorithms and apps – the erroneous physical sensor can´t be upgraded. The poor battery life won´t be improved.

In august 2015, I posted my first hands on/first impressions of the Healbe Gobe. That test session ended with a nasty rash and Healbes support staff wanting pictures and stalling a simple support matter. Then it took until january of 2016 until I got my replacement device.

Healbe Support

My experience of Healbe support is not that good. It seems that you have to nag and remind and post on facebook to get replies from them. There are more excuses coming from them why they lost the thread than actual solutions. And for my latest support ticket, I emailed them about two weeks ago, and I have not gotten a reply. It seems that if you want a refund, help with taxes or anything that they need to act on, the usual response is silence.

Because Healbe has updated the app numerous times and the algorithms and firmware have been updated as well, I decided to do a week of detailed analysis and usage. That resulted in daily posts that I have shared on my blog and this post is a collective post where I conclude my experience of a week with the Gobe.

What the Gobe is not

The gobe is not a training/fitness device. It doesn´t log your workouts and it doesn´t give you detailed information.  You will get an overview of kcals, steps and topics like that. Interesting enough you don´t get information regarding stress and sleep on the wrist band display.

One question that remains is if the Gobe is water proof, splash proof or shouldn´t be around water at all. Healbe states in their FAQ that Gobe is water proof up to three meters and that it can be worn for a swim. That is not the experience of some users as reported in the facebook group but I don’t have any facts on it.

If you get tickled fancy by training data, a hr monitor like Zephyr and one of the major apps like runkeeper, endomondo etc gives you way more usable information.

The physical wristband has a flaw that I would like to adress

Gobe design flaw

 

Depending on how you close the wrist band (ie how tight you need the gobe to sit on your wrist) the clasp might or might not close totally. I have to choose between a snug fit as depicted above (that leaves the metal pin out in the air) or a less snug fit that tends to lead to “No contact” and Gobe shutting it self off.

Day zero

Getting the device. Nothing more than some thoughts regarding The Protector

Day One

First real day of using the gobe. Started the post with: First complete day with the Gobe today. Short version, the data is completely off and it is much worse than I thought.

Day Two

Summed the Gobe day up with:

Lunch was missing, breakfast data dissapeared.  Massive problems with the syncing. Lots of repetitive questions regrding when I ate. Questionable data when it comes to hr, water and stress. Gobe is really positive when it comes to the number of steps, maybe to positive?

Not a good Gobe day

Day three

This sums it up pretty good:

The app/gobe sync is erratic, random and strange. Sometimes it works, most of the time it freezes and nothing happens. Had two app crashes as well when trying to sync today. And theese prompts regarding when I ate or not… It seems that the best workflow is to sync once a day, and to write down when you ate. Anoter day, another meal lost in the data.

Day Four

The big update day

Update your device. And the check for updates, both regarding the app and firmware. But beware, it will zap your data for the day! Also, this days energy balance is totally flawed.

I had a DEE (Daily Energy Expenditure as Gobe has named it) of 1802 kcal. I didn´t add any energy what so ever. My DEE has ranged from 5780-4230 since the start of this test.

The steps are way of as well. S Health indicates about 7000 steps (it was a slow n lazy day yesterday) and for the first ime since this test started Gobe is showing less steps than my fairly accurate S Health

This data errors are probably because of the app and double firmware flashings. So beware when you update, don´t do it on a day where you have data that you wan´t to be sure to be able to analyze. This is also a complain that Healbe should deal with promptly. Why does the data get screwed up after a firmware update?

Healbe staff reached out to me on facebook, both with the need to update and that they state that you should firmware flash your device in te morning. But on the other hand, so much data was lost after flashing so update your app/firmware on a day whare the data isn´t to valuable for you.

Day Five

The errors and fails are piling up

Kcal intake is totally off today. HR data is a total fail and I’m starting to question why I even bother doing this. But I promised a weeks worth of testing so I´ll continue. Syncing has been terrible today as well, lots of connectivity errors resulting in the need of multiple app, phone and wrist band restarts.

Day Six

Massive fail day for the Gobe

Kcal intake is totally off today. It is unreliable and nothing more than random guesses. HR data is a total fail yet again.

For a device that makes claims such as:

The only way to automatically measure calorie intake

it sure is failing both epic and reliably. Stay away from the Healbe Gobe if you are looking for reliable results.  You might have noticed as well that I´m not commenting on the step counter function? It is not working because it is constantly showing thousands of more steps that no other device can detect. I have benchmarked it towards other devices (Fitbit, Silva and two apps in my android except S Health) and it seems that the Gobe is detecting about 500 more steps than any other. Per waken hour!

Day Seven

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Kcal intake and expenditure data for the week

The short version is that it stinks. It is totally random and erratic. Sometimes it indicates food at the correct time, but macro nutrient can’t be trusted and intake/expenditure is a total fail.

On a positive note, it seems that the DEE is on te high note, but still reliable. This is because DEE is calculated from BMR and the daily calorie needs are known since long ago thanks to Harris-Benedict so it isn´t really any magic done here by Gobe and its “Flow” technology (Gobe only need to figure out your heart beat, which it consistenly fails to do…)

HR comparison during workouts

Healbe Gobe is interesting when you compare workout data. My setup with zephyr HRM sensor and endomondo has been tested and benchmarked previously so I know the HR data is reliable.

The Gobe is consistently not low enough in the lows and not high enough in the highs. The average hr during a workout session as measured by the zephyr/endomondo is usually what the gobe states as max hr. I have been testing with weight lifting, running and mountainbiking and the gobe constant misses the mark.

This is alarming, since DEE (Daily Energy Expenditure) is calculated from your hr data

The Gobe shouldn´t in any way be used as a fitness or training device. It gives you false data and is not reliable!

Step counting compared to other devices

I have used Fitbit, Silva, Samsung Health, Misfit Shine and step counting apps on my android to benchmark the results. The Healbe Gobe has consistently been counting more than 500 steps per hour than any other device.

The gobe should not be used in any kind of step counting way since it doesn´t detect your steps reliably.

The other functions

Sleep, water and stress are functions that I don´t really care about. And the functions seems random and with no real usage. Water is either low or normal and it fluctuates all the time. Compared to how I drink water it doesn´t really correlate

The web and app

Both the webb and the app leaves  a lot to hope for. More interactivity. More fitness related functions. Basic functionality such as connectivity and syncing needs to be resolved. Healbe needs to let us interact with more data sources than Withings. As of now, the graphs are not detailed enough for any one interested in fitness data, but might be enough as a start for someone needing inspiration to get started.

Final verdict

The Healbe Gobe automatic calorie measurement device is an interesting attempt. I really wan´t it to work and I have tried to give detailed information so you can form your own opinion. The sad part is that it is not delivering on any of its promises.

Kcal intake is flawed. DEE is kind of working, but shows the wrong levels.

Heart rate is not low enough of the lows and not high enough on the highs so your data is not usable.

Water is either “low” or “normal”. Healbe states the following in their FAQ:

The body manager accurately measures the calories you get from fluids. (Such as soda, juice, or alcohol.) At this stage, it doesn’t automatically measure your intake of plain water. When you drink plain water, please tap the glasses in Hydration menu.

As of now, I´m not commenting on the statement that it accuratly measures calories from fluids. According to this, you need to manually track water. Wich there isn´t any function for in the app. The manual doesn´t say anything about this manual measurment

Sleep seems to be working good for “detecting when you sleep” but the other functions such as Heart block, bradycardia and arrhythmia are questionable (since these conditions only appear at night by some odd reason).

Stress is measured in some automagical way so if you find that it works for you – congratulations. Healbe is really convincing in their desription of how stress is measured:

The GoBe body manager estimates your stress level by conducting a complex analysis of your heart rate data, sleep quality data, and parameters such as weight, height, sex, and age. The Stress section of the app displays a graph of your stress level over a period of 24 hours.

Marketing fluff together with bro science. Please show the science behind this statement!

The step counter is consistent in counting way to many steps per day.

The Protector is a bad solution to an even worse design error. The protector comes loose, is fiddly and needs to be removed for each time you charge your device.

Speaking of charging, Healbe claims “up to two days” battery life.  I would like to see how they used the gobe to get that kind of battery longevity. I charge my gobe every morning, and usually I have about 25% battery left when I wake up.

The charger is a good idea, but something that should have been tested in the wild before released to production. It seems ingenious when you look at it in the manual, but the magnets aren’t strong enough to get a snug fit after a while. Most users resort to prop the charger with a tennisball, golf ball, wrap the wrist band etc etc. And lots of people have reported on their devices no longer beeing able to charge (I have two Gobes that died that way).

Positives about the Gobe

blackgobe

Do I have anything positive to say about Healbe Gobe? It looks really cool with the black color and polished rim. If you like that kind of look.

Also, I didn´t get a rash from it this time. And the metal of the back didn´t get corroded. Probably because of the protector.

Second opinion

Do you want a second opinion? Here is the negatives that Pando Daily was good at delivering before the launchEngadget reviewed the Gobe in february last year. Not a positive review to be honest.

Can you find a positive long term review? Is there any users out there that are happy with the results? It is one thing to get  positive first impression

Next version

Healbe was at CES2016 and showcased their new Gobe. My advice? Stay away, stay far far away. Let other test the alpha release of the device and see what they are experiencing.

9 Comments

  1. One thing I didn’t see was whether it’s consistent. If my goal is to walk more, then it’s not exactly important to know how many steps, it’s to know that I’m taking more steps than I did last week. So I’d like to know if the step data is random or whether it’s just consistently high.

    Similarly the calories. If we do the two weeks of training with the band that’s advised, then do the calories stabilize? In other words, if we eat a bowl of 100g of Cheerios with 250 ml milk for breakfast, will it show the similar amount of Kcal every time, or will it somewhat randomly fluctuate based on some other factors.

    • Hi Tom.

      Good point. The step counter is somewhat consistent, but it still varies for the same amount of movement.

      The kcal “detection” is so flawed that the exact same breakfast each day varied from no detected kcal intake to about 400 kcals to much. No consistency what so ever, and if you answer the “Did you eat at this tiem” qustion it will either count the meal double or not at all

  2. On a more positive front, those harshest critics who thought this product was just a scam should have cause to be less quick to judge. It may not deliver on the calorie-counting feature, but Healbe did deliver a product. It’s clearly spent time, money and effort to design something that

    • I am actually quite amazed that Pando Daily hasn´t done a disection of the product. Considering their hate campaign pre launch I was expecting them to do something atleast

  3. jamie hutber

    Wow… I’ve read it and I think you’re harsh.

    For me, the support was fantastic, the device worked and the battery life was good.

    My only criticism is that I have to remember to hit that I have eaten every time I do. But since they upgraded the software, you can now retrospectively go and say you’ve eaten.

    • Hi Jamie.
      Thanks for your feedback. Actually, I was trying to be as honest as possible. The FB user group is full of people who heva been left in the dark by Healbe´s support. And the fact that the support doesn´t respond until you post onfacebook, or the fact that they stopped responding at all when I wanted a refund says it all for me. But, mileage may vary etc etc.

      The biggest design flaw in my opinion is that it actually doesn´t work

      • jamie hutber

        Interesting, I wonder why this is. All 3 times I have used their customer services I’ve had the auto reply and then a response within 48 hours. But maybe that have upped their game or somehow I’ve just caught them at the right moment. But either way, its been good.

        As for it not working lol I can’t really argue with your opinion and just say that I’ve felt its been ok for me. Although I’ve no real way of knowing if its correct

  4. Dima

    If during the tests the bracelate was worn as shown in the pictures, it is not surprising that the result was negative… the Sensor should be on top of the wrist…

    • The sensor was on top of the wrist. In wich picture is the sensor worn on the inside of the wrist?

      Oh, btw – you are aware of the fact that Healbe at numerous time have adviced that wearing the sensor on the inside of the wrist could be beneficial?

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