Jawbone leverages its Nutrivise acquisition in food-focused UP app revamp

By Brian Dolan
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Jawbone UP nutritionIn June 2013 Jawbone, makers of the UP fitness tracking bracelet, quietly acquired San Francisco-area startup Nutrivise for an undisclosed sum -- MobiHealthNews broke the news last summer. Now, more than a year later, Nutrivise's founder and Jawbone's nutrition and food-focus product manager Laura Borel has helped bring some of the Nutrivise app's features (and a few new ones) to the Jawbone UP user base.

Nutrivise was founded in 2011 and a year later it launched a nutrition-focused, food tracking app called Here&Now, which it described as “a nutritionist in your pocket” for Bay area residents. Here&Now offered several features beyond a standard calorie counter app. The user could input biometric data, health goals, and location, and the app would recommend local and chain restaurants. It could also tell the user how healthy a dish was, both in general and for the user, personally. Before it was acquired Nutrivise had at least one funding raise, a $750,000 seed round in May 2012 that included investment from EchoVC, and angels Pejman Nozad, Zak Holdsworth, and Michael Paulus.

This week's announcement about the new nutrition features in the Jawbone UP app also marks the first official confirmation from Jawbone that it had acquired Nutrivise last year. Jawbone also emphasized that the new features will help UP users manage their weight. Here's a quick rundown of the new food-related offerings of the Jawbone UP app, from the company:

"Personalized Food Library: Quickly see and select from the foods you eat most frequently, right from the front and center of your food-logging screen. More than a quarter of meals logged in UP include regularly consumed items, making easy access to them a time-saving shortcut. UP also surfaces foods that are commonly paired with the items you’re eating via Jawbone’s intelligent food database. Enter eggs, and UP will show you other items that may be included in your meal, like bacon, toast, or potatoes.

"Access to Restaurant Menus: With half of meals in the US eaten outside of the home**, UP now lists dining establishments nearby based on your location and lets you quickly log menu items from many restaurants you visit. Quick access to menus lets you instantly select what you’re eating and automatically import calorie information when available. At local restaurants where nutrition information may not be on hand, add nutrition details and UP will save it in your library for future visits. Jawbone’s data science team will aggregate data entered from multiple users, making it available to the entire UP community for a more complete restaurant menu database.

"Food Score: Use UP’s food detail screen to quickly evaluate how healthy a dish is at a glance. UP shows you the breakdown of healthy nutrients to less healthy nutrients for any given item, along with a new Food Score to help you quickly asses the overall healthiness of individual items and full meals. You’ll also see a rolling average of the score throughout your entire day.

"Weight Goal: Log your weight and set a personal goal in the app to see your progress toward your target weight. UP will recommend a daily calorie goal and balance calories burned versus calories consumed to show you your remaining allowance for the day. And as you log new meals, a convenient progress meter shows you the number of calories you’ve already consumed – and how many you’ll be adding with each new item.

"Insights: A completely redesigned Insight Engine for UP makes its intelligent guidance and useful health tips even more accessible and intuitive. Complete with new food-specific insights and opt-in “Today I Will” commitments, you’ll be motivated to try original recipes, reinforce your diet with fiber and protein, and start building new food habits to keep you on track." 

Jawbone also highlighted a few new food-related apps that connect to the UP platform now, like Munchery, a food delivery service in San Francisco and Seattle. The integration means ordered food is automatically logged by the UP app. An integration with the Prep Pad WiFi connected food scale from The Orange Chef helps UP users create recipes that can also be auto-logged into the app. It can also use activity data from the wearable to suggest personalized meal suggestions. Perhaps the most notable new integration, which Jawbone says is actually coming soon, is recipe recommendations from Nutrisystem that take into account calorie goals, lifestyle preferences, and the time of day.

Last August MobiHealthNews' associate editor Jonah Comstock correctly predicted that the Nutrivise acquisition would tee up a major update to the Jawbone UP app in an effort to set it apart from the increasingly noisy fitness tracker space:

"It seems clear, both from its acquisitions and Jawbone’s pattern of keeping major team members on board, that the company is developing a major data-driven food tracking engine for its UP bracelet," he wrote. "That could be a smart way to stand out in the crowded activity tracker field, since none of the major players are putting as much focus on 'calories in' tracking as they are in tracking activity and calorie expenditure.  As Weight Watchers recently admitted, food tracking seems to be a popular category for health app users."

Before the Nutrivise acquisition Jawbone made headlines by buying another food tracking company, Massive Health. While much of that startup's team continue to lead in various positions at Jawbone UP, none of the features from their first experimental app -- the food rating and tracking app, The Eatery, have found their way into the Up app. Earlier this year the USPTO published a patent filing from one of Massive Health's co-founders, Aza Raskin, who is still at Jawbone: The invention was for a new mobile device and companion app that estimated body fat percentage.

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