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Wearable snake oil: The search for automatic calorie-intake tracking in fit-tech wristbands

Jon Phillips | March 25, 2014
It's the 'holy grail' of activity-tracking wristbands, but critics say no defensible technology allows activity-tracking wristbands to automatically tell us how many calories are in the food we eat.

But calorie-intake tracking, based on everything we're learning from experts, can't even approach a minimum level of accountability. So is it even worth exploring, especially with all the negative scrutiny that's been focused on logbook methods like MyFitnessPal and quasi-scientific methods like those mentioned in the article? Basis Science, for one, has decided to avoid calorie-intake tracking entirely--at least until the proverbial holy grail of fit-tech emerges for real.

"Today, the only ways to do track calorie intake, are, unfortunately, manual," Basis CEO Jef Holove told me during a product demo in October 2013. "We know the user engagement just isn't there. Consumers will say they want to do it, but yet our real-life habits just aren't there. When we feel we've discovered some way of doing calorie intake that makes us feel better about it, then perhaps that gets elevated."

In other words, Basis would be among the many companies interested in the wearable fit-tech version of cold fusion. But it also knows that today--with available technology, in a universe that must conform to the laws of physics and can't indulge in science-fiction dreams--automatic, accurate, sensor-based calorie-intake tracking is beyond the scope of feasibility.


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