Basis Health Monitor

Now here’s a new twist: a wristwatch that watches its wearer. Specifically, this inconspicuous digital watch keeps tabs on your heartbeat, perspiration, movement and skin temperature all through the day and into the night.

You can check on your daily progress by simply tapping a few buttons on the watch face. It also stores data for up to four days, then uploads it via a USB-connected cradle/charging station on your computer (Windows or Mac) to a sophisticated password-protected personal website. By combining the sensor data, the site analyzes your performance in a variety of Health Habits, from the most basic (wearing the watch as much as possible) to the number of steps you took during the day, calories burned, sleep quantity and quality and more.

Unlike several health monitors on the market, the Basis tracks not just body movement but also blood flow, through a light sensor that actually watches your capillary activity. In this way, it provides a more complete picture of your overall health, without requiring the uncomfortable chest band traditionally used to measure heart function.

While it’s not built for swimming, the Basis is a pretty rugged piece of gear—wear it in the shower, or when it’s showering during an outdoor run with no fear. And while the initial version shipped simply with a USB computer connector, there’s some secret sauce under the hood in the form of a Bluetooth radio that will send data wirelessly to Android and Apple devices when the software is ready (presumably by the time you read this).

There are admittedly a few flaws in Version 1 of this product: Would it have killed them to incorporate an alarm and stopwatch? But at the same time, there’s a not-just-for-jocks appeal that reaches out to me. I’m not a serious fitness guy, but I did drop around 50 pounds last year by altering my diet, and would very much like to maintain that enhanced physique. By wearing the Basis, I can easily monitor my good and bad habits, be reminded if I’m spending too much time on my butt and get some positive reinforcement for spending an hour on the exercise bike. For $199, that strikes me as a pretty good deal.