Basis devices to share fitness data through Apple HealthKit, Google Fit

By Jonah Comstock
06:00 am
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Basis Peak TitaniumIntel's Basis Peak will now connect to Apple HealthKit and Google Fit, both exporting the data tracked by its wearable and importing a small amount of data from Apple HealthKit. In addition, the company is launching a number of small firmware and software updates to its device, new band accessories, and a new limited edition version of the Basis Peak.

Prior to this update, Basis users could push very little of their data to other health apps. For most of the data, the only option was to download the data collected by their Basis device into a spreadsheet. Basis did give users the option to push heart rate data, and just heart rate data, to a couple of popular fitness apps, like RunKeeper, Strava, and Endomondo. Over the years most other fitness device makers had formed more robust data integration deals with each other and other health app developers, but apart from the limited heart rate integrations, Basis was a hold out.

"No matter how big your team is there’s only so many things you can take on," Basis General Manager Jef Holove told MobiHealthNews. "And the number of use cases, the number of ideas that we have, that others have, it’s a really long list. So this allows us to empower third party developers to do cool stuff that we wouldn’t do on our own. ... Meanwhile we can stick to our knitting and be able to do just a great consumer experience around health and fitness." 

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Basis will export heart rate, sleep duration (for Apple HealthKit only), activities, steps, calories burned, and active calories burned. It will import weight from Apple HealthKit, which Basis uses to calculate calorie burn.

"What happens with all the products in this category is you fill out all these fields -- height, weight -- when you first sign up and then you never update that again later, and that’s important because that data is fundamental to our calorie burn algorithms," Holove said. "Making sure that data is up to date is important and this will allow the user to automatically update weight data, then that will drive the calorie burning algorithm continuously in the background."

Future updates might bring in other data to the app, but Holove said the company would be careful "not to reinvent the wheel" with something like food tracking, which other apps already do well. Holove said he understands why some other fitness trackers have opted out of data integrations like this, but a combination of user demand and value led the company to opt in.

"[Users] have been very very clear for a while that they want us to be able to do this," he said. "I fully understand the protectionist strategy around not doing it, but we have enough value by integrating the data within our app that I don’t feel like we have to be protectionist in that way."

In addition, Basis is adding a stopwatch feature to the Basis Peak and making incremental improvements to its heart rate tracking algorithms and the reliability of its Bluetooth connectivity. It's also adding a new section within the Basis app called Basis Peak Playground, which will allow developers to quickly test out potential new features with an opt-in population of users.

"In this space, there’s lots of things we want to try, we get lots of pet project ideas from our own engineers, we get lots of feedback from the community itself," he said. "So we’ve been toying with the idea for a while of 'how do we quickly field something unique, cool, experimental?' Kind of a Basis Labs approach to trying new stuff."

One experimental feature will add geolocation tags to the Peak's activity feed. Another, called Photo Finish, will allow users to mark significant activity moments with selfies, which is the company's first foray into the idea of mood tracking, Holove said.

The premium device, called Basis Peak Titanium Edition, is actually made of titanium and will come with a leather band not available elsewhere. The Titanium package will cost $299 and will only be available through Basis' website online. The company is also launching a line of leather straps in different colors. We've compared Peak with the Apple Watch before and the increase in customizability options certainly brings Apple's device, which also features a variety of swappable straps, to mind.

"This idea of what makes wearables wearable, it’s partly about being able to make your wearable reflect who you are and what you want it to look like, but it’s also about being able to change the way the wearable looks based on what you’re wearing and where you’re going — am I going to the gym, am I going to work, am I going out after? All those things. So we’re investing a lot in the idea that you can change the way it looks to fit you or to fit the context," Holove said.

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