Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How the Basis B1 Band Works

The Basics of Basis

It seems like such a simple concept: help people measure key biosignals so they can make lifestyle changes that improve their health. But which signals, exactly, do you target when the human body contains trillions of cells, and each cell contains trillions of molecules?

Like many elegant solutions, the band embraces the KISS principle -- keep it simple, stupid. Because it can't possibly measure every system in the body, it measures just one and uses the data the same way a financial expert would leverage key economic indicators to make decisions about the health of the global economy. That system is the cardiovascular system, which reveals itself most plainly in the number of times the heart beats per minute. "The heart is fundamental to understanding your health and continuously measuring heart rate can offer unprecedented insights," said Basis CEO Jef Holove in a press release.

To make those insights more meaningful, the Basis B1 band evaluates heart rate as a person moves through three natural states:

  • Sleeping -- During sleep, your heart rate drops to minimum level, but it doesn't remain constant. Research now indicates that the heart typically cycles from 63 to 67 beats per minute [source: Giorno]. Different factors can cause heart rate to increase, but one common culprit is apnea, or the suspension of breathing. The Basis band monitors your heart rate while you're catching Z's to determine the quality of your sleep and uncover any cardiovascular stresses that escape your attention while you're snoozing.
  • Waking -- In Basis lingo, "waking" describes any time you're awake but not exercising. At these times, your heart rate is higher than your sleeping level (the Mayo Clinic puts the typical resting heart rate for men at between 60 and 100 beats per minute), and your body is engaged in frequent, low-intensity motion. By monitoring your waking heart rate, Basis can establish a benchmark to compare activity levels in other states.
  • Being active -- Ever see people interrupt a workout routine to check their pulse? They're trying to see if they've reached an exercise target heart rate. According to the American Heart Association, this number should range between 50 and 75 percent of a person's maximum heart rate, which can be calculated by subtracting someone's age from the number 220 [source: WebMD]. A 40-year-old jogger, for example, would have a maximum heart rate of 180 beats per minute and an exercise target heart rate of, say, 108 beats per minute. If you have the Basis B1 band on your wrist, you'll get this information delivered automatically and, more importantly, evaluated against your sleeping and waking states. Not only that, you'll begin to understand how you transition between the various states, which can be just as revealing.

All of this self-tracking may seem novel, but it's part of a movement that has gained a lot of momentum -- and attention -- in recent years. Before we take a closer look at how the sensors on the Basis B1 band work, let's go inside a trend that would make Narcissus proud.