Healbe GoBe 2 is a particularly unusual fitness band. No matter what other features it offers — and I’ll discuss those later — the real appeal of GoBe is the promise to keep track of insights into what you’ve eaten, including fats, calories, carbs, and protein — automatically and completely non-invasively. Just wear it all day, and it records what you eat. It’s the Holy Grail of fitness gadgets: No longer have to log food and track your fat and calories during the day. It… just do it for you. Like a miracle.
If it works, that is. And that’s what I set out to define by wearing GoBe 2, a new and improved version of the GoBe band, for about a month.
Can it track your calorie intake?
Answer the big question ahead: How well does it count about what you’ve eaten?
Rub… It’s hard to say.
But after trying my best to carefully monitor what I have eaten for several weeks, I can say that except for some inactive results, it works surprisingly well.
Meet GoBe 2
GoBe 2 is an update to Healbe’s original GoBe, with some hardware and software updates. But at its core, it is a black plastic block that looks quite industrial, not luxurious.
It is probably the largest fitness strap on the market, which measures about 2.25 inches on your wrist 1.5 inches wide. It is also about 5/8 inches thick. Bottom line: It’s not subtle even on my big male hand, and almost everyone asks me about it the first time they see me wearing it.
There is no full-time display, but constantly pressing the sole button of the strap to rotate over time, battery life, heart rate, calories, number of steps taken, and more. Otherwise, the screen stays off to save battery life. Healbe claims that the band has a battery life of about two days (my experience is actually a lot closer than just over a day), so you should practice the habit of throwing it in the charger every time you shower under the shower.
So, does this method use science or magic to know what you’re eating? According to HealBe, this strap includes an analgesic sensor to calculate the amount of water inside and outside the cells in the skin of your wrist. Measurements that track the movement of water in cells are performed more or less continuously, helping to determine your sugar, carbs, and protein consumption. Over a 24-hour period, minute-by-minute raw data is used to determine your nutritional profile over the past day.
GoBe has skeptics
When the band GoBe first debuted in 2014, it was the target of some harsh criticism. For example, medical blog The Doctor Weighs In made this call based on Healbe’s marketing moves:
“The claim that the measurement of anolysm can bring information about calories, calorie output (with the help of acceleration) and the composition of the diet is absolutely ludicrous. Explanation: water interferes with electrical resistance. Lie detection testing is based on this phenomenon (also known as an electrical reaction). The assumption is that when a person lies, his sympathetic nervous system is activated, causing increased sweating, and there it is – the lie is exposed!
“So what about skin resistance as a metabolic measure? This is even less reasonable than the lie detector test. The invented hypotheses that the movement of water from cells is linear to the glucose flow. They do not take into account individual variations. their insulin sensitivity, even if all are within normal limits, let alone patients with type 2 diabetes. “
That’s not encouraging and it’s far from the only suspicious online resource about Healbe in 2014. But then again, very few journalists have a real chance of checking out GoBe; these criticisms are all made based solely on the concept. On the contrary, I have to spend a month with GoBe 2. I wear it on my right wrist, as I do not want to give up the Moto 360 smartwatch that I simultaneously wear on the left. That’s me: Stylish to the end.
Actual data from GoBe 2
When I started testing GoBe 2, I hoped to eat something with known calories and fat — such as a 200-calorie breakfast bar — and see how GoBe reacts soon after. Indeed, I usually eat a fairly predictable series of meals: A light breakfast at around 9 am, lunch at noon, a mid-afternoon snack, and dinner around 7 pm. But what GoBe actually records is anything but a series of easily understandable mutations on the chart. Here’s GoBe’s description of one of the typical 3-meal days.
This is why it is difficult to accurately assess what is happening: Peaks and valleys spike continuously during the day (and even overnight when you are sleeping), according to Healbe, your body converts food over a long period of time. You can not digest all that lasagna plate for a few minutes as soon as you eat. And it’s more complicated than that. I asked Healbe for help explaining my metabolic graph and they told me:
“In the app, GoBe 2 displays levels of metabolism inside the user, so the peaks show high levels of activity, which depends not only on the food consumed but also their physical activity, stress, sleep, and stomach time. empty. And as you guessed, the peaks that occur during the sleep phase are the continuity of the digestive process from the meal of the previous day. The process of digesting certain foods can take 12 hours or longer. “
In addition, GoBe is not only a food sensor but also an exercise band. It has a pulse sensor and a 9-axis acceleration to monitor your heart rate and activity level (including counting steps), so the bottom part of the chart also shows your energy consumption.
Okay, we’ve determined that it’s hard to unravel these charts. But is it really accurate? I tried to get to the bottom of that question by carefully monitoring my consumption over a number of days during the test. Usually, I feel like it’s in the football field – within 20% of what I expect, based on food labels and other estimates.
But some days it seems to deviate. One day, for example, I ate a 200-calorie breakfast bar for breakfast, another bar for lunch, a 200-calorie apple muffin, and a modest dinner… That’s all. That number would have reached about 1400 calories, but GoBe claimed it was a 1900 calorie day for me. (Some of those calories were probably processed after midnight from the day before. See that? It’s hard to get to know this thoroughly.)
However, all things considered, I would support GoBe on nutrition monitoring. For a feature that seems like it shouldn’t work at all, it has somewhat reported daily numbers consistently and meaningfully, even if the graphical mutations from time to time are misleading and generally useless. After all, if I can’t look at the chart and even have a vague sense of what time of day I ate a meal or how many calories it was, then the chart doesn’t really achieve much. My advice: Don’t pay much attention to the chart, which is there just to look good, but instead keep track of the daily total over a period of time.
GoBe measures your blood pressure
And GoBe has other tricks. The machine monitors the heart rate constantly, its real-time is quite accurate. As a jogger, I have a fairly low resting heart rate and GoBe usually latches me at around 50 bpm when I’m sitting comfortably at my desk. After a minute of strenuous activity on an ellipse, it soared to 85 bpm and both of those numbers matched the results I had seen before.
It also has a feature I’ve never seen in an exercise band before: Your ability to measure blood pressure. This feature is said to be “in the testing phase” and claims that it can be turned off by up to 20%, but I had the opportunity to test GoBe at the doctor’s office as soon as the nurse measured blood pressure. The two readings are almost identical. Now that surprises me.
GoBe also tracks your drinking water, sleep, and stress levels. For whatever reason, I find GoBe’s sleep monitoring quite poor – I guess it doesn’t maintain firm contact with my skin throughout the night, as perhaps a third of my evenings show “no data”. When it works, you’ll have sleep time, sleep quality, and sleep efficiency – all that (and this is the criticism I have about virtually all sleep monitors) is relatively unacceptable. Do I have an effective sleep 77%? Great. What do I do with that information?
Similarly, the stress level index is very interesting (it works on the principle that an increased heart rate when you are physically inactive is a time of high stress) but mostly just curiosity. Good news: I seem to have a fairly less stressful life, rarely pinging even 2 on GoBe’s 5-point scale.
Some concerns about usability
All that said, we also need to evaluate GoBe on traditional criteria —as well as its overall usability. And here, GoBe has plenty of room for improvement; it lacks an overall design sense saying that it is designed to be comfortable, convenient, and useful in the life of an ordinary person.
For example, the band itself is not particularly comfortable. It has a built-in rubber strap (i.e.g., i.e.) that I find that always feels too loose or too tight; Not right here. And if it’s too loose, you’ll get nasty vibrations that warn that the sensors don’t have good contact with your skin. That band also hinders the placing of the band into its remote charging dock.
And charging has its own complexities; sometimes, the charger does not charge even though it seems to be in place. You probably know, since the charger’s status light does not turn from blue to red. But if you’re not paying attention, you might think it’s charging when it’s not. And sometimes, the band turns off when it’s in the charger. Put it on your wrist and it will turn off the power. I went around one day, not realized that it did not record any data.
However, my biggest frustration is with the different screens of the mobile app. The energy balance chart summary is clearly designed by an engineer without real user input or usability feedback. For calories, the app uses the terms “intake” and “burn” and minus signs independently but can substitute for each other, so sometimes it’s confusing to understand what the app is telling you. Plus sign that says calories consumed or calories burned? You don’t need to think too much to 100% of the data.
Worse, the suction and burning (or + and -) parts of the chart are displayed in two almost-exact-same-but-very-different colors. With the entire rainbow available, why did they choose to display opposition measurements literally as small variations on purple? Problems continue to occur on the web — you can access all your data in one browser, but it does have some really unforgivable sins, such as forcing you to enter your weight in kilograms in part of the page, even if your profile is set to American Table just a few pixels away.
To his credit, Healbe told me that they were considering feedback on the usability that I had provided them to update the software in the future.
Should you buy it?
So the bottom line of GoBe, a utility that skeptics once said couldn’t work, but seemed to give me reasonable results in more than a month of testing?
I’m making a hesitation proposal. GoBe has a lot of problems – but most of them are simple usability issues, many of which can be solved in software updates.
As close as I can tell without research funding, access to the lab, and a wide range of double-blind test subjects, GoBe 2 does a surprisingly effective job of measuring data such as calories, fats, proteins, and carbs, as long as you content to evaluate data over a period of days, instead of hours.
I hope that Healbe will continue to cultivate this frequency range — both hardware and software — to turn it into something less troublesome to bring into your life. After all, a wristband that records the fat and calories of what you eat is actually the Holy Grail for dieters and fitness fanatics.
Healbe GoBe 2 sells for $179 (although it’s currently available for $149).