BodyMedia’s Jewelry Upgrade Makes Data-Driven Weight Loss Super-Chic

Being geeky is awesome; number-obsessed performance geeks should be able to wear their devices loud and proud. Last year saw an explosion of calorie-tracking wearable devices, but none of these plastic-looking gadgets were fit for the runway. At the Consumer Electronics Show, BodyMedia revealed an upgraded armband that aims to make data-driven weight loss a fashion-forward accessory by embedding their device into a chic jewelry bracelet. “If I’m taking care of myself, it’s no different than my glasses that help me see better or my watch that helps me tell time.” says BodyMedia CEO, Ivo Stivoric.

The sleek design seems to have accomplished BodyMedia’s goal. At a private dinner held during CES, I witnessed a woman compliment the BodyMedia representative wearing the silvery Core 2 bracelet without her even knowing it was their new model. Ivo says that “intelligent jewelry” is the next step for BodyMedia, which he hopes is “something that people would even wear if it was off.”

Unlike popular alternatives such as the Nike+ Fuelband or Jawbone Up wristbands, which estimate calories from body movement, the BodyMedia device can distinguish between picking up a pencil and picking up a 300lb Olympic barbell. Sensors capture skin temperature and galvanic skin response (sweat) for a more individualized measure of performance.

The distinction is especially important to someone like me who has the resting metabolism of a sleeping gerbil. The Fuelband may estimate that I burned more calories than I actually do, because it assumes I’m an “average” amount of calories while resting, when in fact I pack on pounds by merely thinking about Twinkies.

For the past year, I’ve used the BodyMedia device for various dieting experiments (I started around the time my binge eating disorder phase ended), but the current bulging, white plastic sensor leads many people to believe I have some sort of odd disease. A more fashionable tracking device would reduce stares and help make my geeky obsession with minute-by-minute calorie tracking a chic statement. Perhaps more important, in the near future, it might incentive those without the predilection towards calorie tracking to becoming more weight-loss oriented simply to seem cool.