Interview with Bandar Antabi, Vice President and Head of Special Projects of Jawbone

  1. Jawbone is one of the pioneers of the fitness tracker market but originally coming from audio technology. Where did the idea of developing wearable devices evolve from?

We have been active in the wearable and sensor space from the beginning with our Jawbone Headsets. Our patented sensor in our first product touched the user’s jaw and sensed movement, which enabled our headsets to accurately detect speech and eliminate background noise.

As the global health crisis mounted, we felt a strong sense of responsibility to utilize our resources, ecosystem, and expertise in sensors, wearables, design, software, and batteries to help make a difference.  We’ve always been passionate about creating products that fit the way people live, and make them live better. Moving into the wearable activity tracking market three years ago, we started to harness that passion to approach a major global issue – health. UP has leveraged Jawbone’s expertise and partner ecosystem integrating robust computing and sophisticated sensor technology in the form of functional jewelry.

  1. Soon the new Jawbone UP3 will be launching packed with a lot more sensors than its predecessor, plus the new version will be waterproof. What is the best thing about the new band?

Our mission was to create the world’s most powerful activity tracker in the smallest possible design, and we have done that with UP3.  Our advanced, multi-sensor platform delivers a huge amount of new health data, backed by our smart algorithms and our highly personalized Smart Coach system. And because the technology is fully updateable, we’re able to unveil great new features and experiences in the coming months.

  1. In 2013 your company acquired BodyMedia. What kind of their technology is used in the new band? Can you share?

BodyMedia is commonly regarded as the industry leader in multi-sensor innovation. Together, we now have the definitive IP catalogue for multi-sensor patents. We’ve integrated BodyMedia into Jawbone. We have combined their work with our own expertise in smaller wearables and software design to produce something incredible. UP3 is truly a breakthrough in multi-sensor technology.

  1. As many wearable pioneers Jawbone encountered difficulties in the beginning but now being one of the industry leaders. What is the most important thing you learned from the fallbacks?

Three years ago, wearable technology was still very new, and users were not used to these types of products. We have always been protective of our technology; we tend to guard our smartphones, tablets, and laptops from being mishandled. On the other hand, we tend to forget about items we wear, even clothes do not last, especially if you wear the same piece every day. Our goal was to create products that disappeared and that were truly wearable 24/7. Hence, people ended up forgetting that they had this sophisticated computer on their wrist, which then made this product more susceptible to being mishandled.

We have continued to refine products over time, learning more about users and wearability.  We have developed very sophisticated in-lab and real world testing, and today our products are more life proof than ever before.

  1. Can you define the concept of “the Internet of me” a bit for our readers?

You may have heard of the “Internet of Things” – connecting devices in your home and as you go about your day to create new experiences. But we like to call it the “Internet of You”. It’s not about the “things,” it’s about you at the center of those things and the personalized experiences they can provide to you. By putting products on the body, we can extend the possibilities of what tech can do for you to make it even more personal and frictionless.

For us, the ‘Internet of You’ comes back to the same three guiding principles:

  • Solving a problem for the user.
  • Design for the way we live (which for wearables means, creating something they’ll actually wear 24/7 – unobtrusive, comfortable, great-looking – that complements the other products that you have with you).
  • Underneath it all you need the tech to disappear, to be unobtrusive – which means creating the technology to enable that.

So with UP, it’s more than a piece of hardware, it is an entire system that works in concert to passively observe & learn about you – how you move, sleep and eat – and then uses that to inform and nudge you at just the right moments over time.

  1. What is your favorite wearable device (besides your own)?

My minimal in-ear headphones.