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Basis Band goes on sale, taking wearable fitness tech to the next level

Earlier this year, we caught a glimpse of the Basis Band, a revolutionary watch-like device that aims to change the game of wearable fitness gadget. Unlike the FitBit, Lark, or Nike+ FuelBand, Basis Band doesn’t want to just track sleep and calorie deficit. The band contains tiny sensors that can read your blood flow, heart rate, and heat dissipation on top of your sleep cycles and steps taken. It also goes beyond the number crunching and provide users with “patterns” of activity, giving those looking to get serious about fitness a clearer idea of what to do with the information Basis has calculated.

“There are some cool devices out there based on accelorometry,” Basis CEO Jef Holove tells us. “Detecting motion is a good place to start, but it doesn’t tell you what the activity does to your body … Pretty charts and graphs are nice, but people, broadly speaking, are confused by data and are not sure what to interpret and do with it.”

Instead, the Basis Band, which finally went on sale today at $200, aims to change your health habits using what Holove calls “baby steps.” Every week, the user can set personal goals for themselves, such as walking more than 5,000 steps a day or sleeping at least seven hours. The patterns are tracked daily and the weekly data determines next week’s set of goals.

In the personal example Holove showed me of his experience with Basis, he was able to walk more than 5,000 steps four days of the first week. The following week, Basis pushes him to walk that much at least three days of the week. In the third week, Holove travelled to Asia and spent a lot of time in meetings. By analyzing that Holove got significant exercise in the previous weeks but could not meet them this week, Basis lowered his new weekly goal, recommending that he walked 5,000 steps at least two days of the week to slowly get back on track. This constant adjustment makes realistic sense for those who do not have a consistent gym schedule, which I imagine to be a large majority of America.

The amount of data Basis gathers make its competitors look like toys. It makes us realize that having a device that tracks daily steps taken and calories burned is helpful, but getting an accompanying heart rate information adds significant context. We exercise to get our heart rates up and work up a sweat – and that can be done even if one takes less steps in a day but does it all in a fast, running pace. Basis is also waterproof to a certain extent; you can shower or run in the rain with it on but you can’t take it for a swim.

While $200 may seem like a lot to spend on a fitness gadget, when you consider how much its competitors go for (FitBit One at $100, Nike+ FuelBand at $150), it’s a whole lot of info and personal coaching for the investment. At the moment, Holove says the Basis Band will only come with a free Web interface to help track all your health data, but mobile apps are not out of the picture. After all, the Basis is all about letting the user take baby steps into changing their overall lifestyle, so it only seem appropriate that the company follows suit.