UPDATE: Basis was acquired by Intel in 2014 and was eventually shut down and discontinued in 2017. 😡

Basis B1

After months of being on the waiting list to get my hands on the sweet-looking Basis B1 band, I ran out of patience and picked one up off of EBay (at a premium of $100 more than it’s $199 retail price).
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Basis B1 band, while it looks like a digital watch at first glance, it is built around five sensors that work together to track various aspects of your health:

  • Optical blood flow sensor – This sensor detects heart rate, through pulse or blood flow, and constantly monitors heart rate. This is the most important sensor and provides the device with key metrics so that it can understand how the body is reacting to lifestyle
  • 3D accelerometer – Highly sensitive, this sensor detects even the smallest movement, regardless of whether users are alert and active or sleeping soundly.
  • Body temperature – By measuring the user’s skin surface temperature, this sensor provides a more accurate reading of exertion in an activity state.
  • Ambient temperature reading – This sensor detects the outside temperature and, in relation to body temperature, can boost the accuracy of caloric burn calculations, as well as providing insights into other environmental effects on the body.
  • Galvanic skin response – By measuring the intensity of the skin’s moisture output (or sweat) during any activity, from warm-up to recovery, this sensor provides information particular to an individual’s level of exertion when engaged in activity.

I’ve been using it non-stop for the past few weeks and in a nutshell, while it’s still very much “beta”, it’s a great device with a very promising future, and I’m looking forward to firmware enhancements to improve it’s display functions and enabling bluetooth support (which it has but currently is disabled) to allow for wireless syncing and pairing with other apps (i.e., HRV, etc.). While you are able to sync the data off of your B1 band to Basis’ website (via a USB cable – again, bluetooth support coming in the future) and they generate some neat graphs, like any dedicated self-tracker, I was disappointed that Basis doesn’t provide a way for me to download my raw data. According to Basis literature:

While much of this data and the individual metrics collected by sensors are not visible to the user, they are aggregated and summarized by Basis B1 to build to provide a complete picture of the person’s health.

Boo. But not one to be discouraged, after some digging around I was able to figure out how to get my data, and wrote a data export script that I’ve made publicly available on GitHub.

Basis currently returns the following data points. They will represent an average (for heart rate) or sum (steps) over the previous 1-minute period:

  • Time – time reading was taken
  • Heart Rate – beats per minute
  • Steps – number of steps taken
  • Calories – number of calories burned
  • GSR – Galvanic skin response (i.e., sweat/skin conductivity). Learn more about GSR here – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skin_conductance
  • Skin Temperature – skin temperature (degrees F)
  • Air Temperature – air temperatute (degrees F)

There are some other aggregate metrics included in the response such as min/max/average/standard deviation metrics for each set of data.

Basis data export body states

Summary and Body State Data Export

Basis B1 Sensor Data Export

For a more in-depth overview of the script (and to download it for your own use, please visit my GitHub page!