Products like the Nike+ FuelBand and Jawbone's Up have helped bring fitness monitoring into the mainstream, and now Basis Science is hoping to up the ante with its own namesake fitness tracker. The $199 Basis band — available for pre-order today — looks like an old-school digital watch, but the exterior houses a number of sophisticated sensors. Most fitness bracelets rely on a three-axis accelerometer, but the Basis builds on that with several additional sets of data. An optical sensor uses reflected light to monitor the heart rate of the wearer, while others monitor perspiration level and both ambient and user temperature. Taken together, the data lets the device track activity, sleep quality, resting heart rate, and an assortment of other metrics.

We got an early glimpse of the Basis this year at CES, and while the device hasn't changed much what has evolved is the software that accompanies it. The band provides a handful of metrics at a glance: the time, calories burned, heart rate, and number of steps taken that day. Connecting the device to a computer via its USB cradle syncs the raw data to Basis' servers, however, where the information is crunched to provide a detailed set of analytics. What Basis sees as its greatest edge, however, is what it terms "healthy habits." Users get access to 10 different types of activities to set as personal goals — things like the number of hours you've slept, the calories you've burned, or the numbers of steps taken in a day.


"People set goals based on who they wish they were."

Rather than letting users set all the habits at once, however, the Basis system requires users to earn them. New owners will only be able to set two different goals when they begin — and one of them is simply wearing the band a set number of days. If after a week they've completed their goals, they'll earn points and the ability to unlock new achievements. Basis CEO Jef Holove told us earlier this week that the intent is to encourage users to take on reasonable goals they can achieve, rather than overreach and stop using the device in frustration. "People set goals based on who they wish they were," he said, "not who they are." The Basis habit system is designed to overcome that hurdle and keep users exercising.

A compelling list of features

The company says the water-resistant device can run for four days on a single charge, and both Android and iOS apps are in development (Bluetooth is already built into the band for wireless mobile syncing). On paper, the Basis certainly provides a compelling set of features, and with an open API already planned the company is clearly looking to expand its capabilities even further. Of course, the real test of any fitness tracking device is how it actually works day-to-day, but unfortunately we weren't able to spend any extended time with the Basis — despite the fact that pre-orders begin today (we will have a full review in the coming weeks). In the meantime, if Basis sounds like a device you'd like to try, it can be pre-ordered direct from the company's website. Both black and white bands are available, and if you're eyeing it as a holiday gift, don't worry: Basis says the band will ship in time for Christmas.

Sean Hollister contributed to this report.