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Design Critique: Jawbone UP

What is the Jawbone UP

Jawbone UP is a wearable technology powered by an mobile application which tracks your steps, distance, calories burned, inactive and active workouts, as well as tracking your sleep patterns. The system consists of a sleek wristband device, and an iPhone application. The wristband itself is small with one button and an audio port. The iPhone application shows total number of steps and sleep, team information, a feed of your friend’s activity, challenges, and basic profile information. Plugging the wristband device into the headphone port of your iPhone allows you to sync your logged activity and view it in a couple of ways. It could be argued that the overall goal of Jawbone UP is to help make people more aware of their daily activities, concerning physical activity as well as sleep, so that habits might be exposed and changed over time.

Why Did I Buy One?

I am very interested in wearable and fitness technology. Jawbone UP is the first device that is fashion forward enough to wear every single day, which constantly tracks my movement and sleep patterns. I purchased the device in order to track my daily habits and see where improvements could be made. Tracking my sleep patterns and visualizing the information was also very appealing as I have always been curious about how I sleep (as I’m a very “deep” sleeper).


Overall, the UP is quite delightful and good at it’s stated goals. Switching from wearing no forms of jewelry (rarely even a watch) to consistently wearing the device every single day was easy. The device is fashionable without bringing too much attention to itself, and it easily fits in to my overall style and aesthetics. The iPhone application however has many problems. Over the course of 10 days I’ve encountered a number of design and software flaws with the application.

Interaction Design

Jawbone UP Home Screen

The overall design of the iPhone application could be said to be simple and fairly easy to use. First time use or Out Of Box experience was pleasant and gave me a clear sense of what to do within the application. While I’m usually a fan of design which does not require tutorials, designs which sync hardware and software are still a bit new, so some basic tutorials could be useful to a myriad of users. I also find syncing the device to work quite well, thought the tappable buttons seem to be too small and I find myself missing them on the first try. Syncing can also be an issue if the device isn’t fully plugged in and pushed completely into the audio port. To be fair the Square Card Reader has some similar problems.

While most of the application is straightforward and easy to use, I’ve come across a number of problems with the design. While some of these issues are easily fixed usability issues, others are frustrating to use on a daily basis.

Jawbone UP Sleep Activity

  • No understanding that you need to rotate the phone back into portrait view
  • No way to dive deeper into details of the timeline
  • Feed isn’t intuitive and doesn’t mean much to anyone
  • Why would anyone add to their feed manually when this device is all about the automatic?
  • Why is my profile and feed only showing my sleeping activity? Why not all activity?
  • Poor quality scrolling
  • Tapping on Sleep doesn’t bring up the sleep timeline, but rather takes me to the last synced timeline.
  • A 24 hour day in the timeline does not fit with my understandings of a day, if you know when I sleep and wake, you know when my ‘day’ starts and ends.
  • Activity Indicator and vibration alert can not seem to tell when I’m standing and working but not moving beyond shifting weight a bit.

Industrial Design

Jawbone UP with lost cap

The UP device looks fantastic, and I’ve actually been complemented on the fashion of the device. It fits into my overall wardrobe and style seamlessly. Wearing the device is comfortable and I’ve gotten to a point where it feels natural. While the material of the device feels nice, it often get’s caught in cuffs of jackets and shirts. Further, the audio port cap comes off too easily resulting in a lost cap after just 8 days of use.

Missed Opportunities

While the Jawbone UP device is very new to the market, and the overall market of wearable computing is in it’s infancy, I think Jawbone missed several compelling opportunities with the UP device.

  • Telling me how to actually improve my sleep.
  • Vibrating the bracelet until I actually get up and move around (or at least more than once)
  • Automatic snooze of sleep timer.
  • No social graph to recommend people to be in my team.
  • Nap mode, especially given that it knows my sleeping patterns.
  • Not able to add notes about particular sleep or activity patterns to help me see the bigger overall picture of my health. This could work much like the meals option and notes.
  • Should the device be smart enough to go into Sleep mode by itself?


Overall Thoughts

In summary, I love my Jawbone UP. It provides great data on my overall activity, especially sleep patterns. The UP is comfortable and fashionable enough to wear everyday. The only time I take mine off is to shower, but with the device being water and sweat resistance, that isn’t even necessary. I find myself syncing the device 3-4 times per day to see how I’m doing. While the device has some issues, it’s missed two nights of sleep data, and the application has quite a few design problems, I think Jawbone has put forth a great piece of useful and fashionable wearable technology.

Looking for Two Students to Mentor

I’m looking to mentor two graduate level students in the Experience Design field (UX, UXD, UCD, IxD, ED, HCI, etc). As a recent graduate myself I know that having a good mentor while going through a graduate program can mean quite a lot.

I’m offering the following:

  • 6-9 months of mentorship
  • Review and critique of design work
  • Help understanding field
  • Help understanding graduate school
  • Advice of any kind
  • Review, critique, and help with portfolio and resume

I’m looking to mentor any student currently enrolled in a graduate program in the fields listed above who posses the following qualities.

  • 1st or 2nd year student
  • English speaking
  • Ability to listen to blunt, upfront critique
  • Desire to work in the field (not looking to get into a phd program)
  • Enjoys design beyond research (I love research as well, but I want you to love design also)
  • Sense of humor
  • Wants to be active in the design field
  • a ‘go getter’

I’m based in San Francisco, but you can be based anywhere. I will mostly be able to mentor through email, IM, phone calls, and video calls. If you are interested, please send me an email directly explaining why you want to be mentored (can be brief).

Capstone Poster

For our final capstone/thesis project in my masters program, we must create a poster, a presentation, and write a long-ass paper. I present my capstone in just three weeks, and last night I finished my capstone poster. I will blog about my entire capstone, as well as add it to my portfolio, once it’s submitted, for now it’s back to work!

Definition of Future (verb)

Future : (verb)

to design a product, service, or artifact which is intended for use two or more years from the present.

Example 1
My main project for the summer was to future Firefox Home Tab.

Example 2
We would like to hire you to future the iTunes service.


DSC_0084.jpgAs Interaction Designers, we are often charged with envisioning the future of a product, service, or artifact. At IU’s HCID program, we are trained to design for the present and for the future. It’s easy to talk about the present, as most people can think about 6 months to a year out. However, talking about the future of a design is more of a challenge. Sometimes you would be designing for 2-3 years in the future, sometimes even further. Talking about the future in this way becomes wordy and lengthy. So, we all just started using a ‘new’ verb tense of the word future. This has enabled us to talk more vaguely about design possibilities and prompted us to be more creative. We use this tense so much that it has become quite common place.

I’m hoping that bringing this tense into industry, we, as designers, can more easily talk about the future of things. Although I’m not promoting everyday use of the word, as I’m considering it industry specific jargon, I do think that by using it more in this tense, we can help drive our creative imaginations.

Thoughts, reactions?

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