Exclusive: We tested the world’s first automatic calorie counter, and it works!

Would you buy a car if it had no fuel gauge? A phone without a battery meter? As humans, we like to quantify the world around us, but until now we’ve lacked the tools to answer the simplest questions about how we’re powered: Are you eating enough? Are you eating too much? What’s in the food you ingest?

The Healbe GoBe Body Manager is the first device that can track what you put in your body without requiring you to ever glance at a nutrition label.

The GoBe told me precisely how many calories I’ve shoveled in, and how many I’ve burned. 

Using three sensors and a lot of complex math, the GoBe I’ve worn on my wrist for a week has told me precisely how many calories I’ve shoveled in, and how many I’ve burned. And I’ve checked it against box labels and other fitness gadgets. I had been prepared to jump onboard with the vocal critics calling the GoBe snake oil. I won’t: The last week has been a total life changer. Not only does it work, learning how many calories I eat and how many I burn each day has me thinking about food and exercise in a completely new way.

Sadly, the GoBe is also one of the buggiest, most frustrating devices I’ve ever used. Here’s an in-depth look at one of the most exciting, yet still deeply flawed, gadgets on the brink of hitting shelves.

Table of contents

Next page: How the GoBe Body works

How the GoBe works

The GoBe wristband uses a combination of three sensors and a lot of number crunching to determine how many calories you eat and burn on a daily basis. The most unique numbers come from an impedance sensor, which sends high- and low-frequency electrical signals into your wrist tissue to measure changes in the amount of water inside your cells. It also contains a piezoelectric pressure sensor to measure your heart rate, and an accelerometer like any other fitness band to track steps.

From water-level data, the GoBe can estimate how much glucose is in each cell. By watching the levels rise and fall over time, it can determine how many calories you eat without the need to manually enter them in an app, and how many of those calories come from carbohydrates, fat, and protein. It combines this data with heart-rate information and some other info (height, weight, age, etc.) to spit out some key metrics:

  • Energy: This is the game changer. The GoBe shows you how many food calories (kcal) you’ve eaten during the day and how many you’ve burned through base metabolism and activity. Healbe’s app shows whether you have a positive energy balance (you’re getting fatter) or a negative energy balance (good news – you’re losing weight). It also breaks down how many calories came from fat, carbs, and protein, along with how many steps you took.
  • Water balance: This screen shows how many 8oz glasses of water GoBe thinks you should drink a day. For me, this totaled about 106oz a day. As you drink water, it automatically reduces and changes your requirements for the rest of the day and the following days.
  • Heart: The GoBe measures your heart rate every minute or so. There is a button to measure your blood pressure, but it turned out to be wildly inaccurate.
  • Sleep: Supposedly the GoBe can measure sleep, though I haven’t gotten this feature to work.
  • Stress: By comparing your activity level to your heart rate, the GoBe estimates your stress level. If your heart rate goes up, but your movement is minimal, it considers you stressed out.

Next page: Test results

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