Need to optimize your sleep? There’s an app for that.

Jawbone's Hosain Rahman at GigaOM's RoadMap 2011It might sound like science fiction, but Jawbone Founder and CEO¬†Hosain Rahman says we’re headed to an era where our bodies can be connected to everything in our world, including our air conditioners. It won’t be innate, of course, unless we literally have chips implanted in our bodies, but a device like Jawbone’s Up Band could make it possible.
Talking about his company’s new wristband device at RoadMap today, Rahman painted a picture of lives so optimized by data about our bodies that even new parents like himself can wake up refreshed every morning. The band measures an incredible amount of data about individuals — from how many calories they burn to how efficient their gaits are to how much deep sleep they got — and displays it via an iPhone (s aapl) app. As users start to understand more about the information they’re seeing and how it relates to their lifestyles, he said, they’re more motivated to act accordingly.
But the Up Band isn’t just about displaying data and leaving the rest to users, it’s also about helping. For example, Rahman said, the band’s alarm function is a gentle vibration on the user’s wrist during a time when the user is in a light sleep. That way, it’s not as jarring as being woken by a blaring alarm clock during deep sleep, and users are more likely to get up feeling well and ready to face the day. There also is a social element to the Up Band, so users can see how their peers are doing and try to keep up, or engage in challenges to see who’s eating the healthiest or being the most active.
As impressive as the device and associated app are, Rahman acknowledges that we’re just at the beginning when it comes to better our bodies via data. For one, he said, most people haven’t even given a thought to the idea of monitoring the data their bodies generate, so you have to go slow. You can’t “kill people with sensors” off the bat, he said, but let them grow into the new lifestyle. What Jawbone has found is users actually start to understand the data rather quickly, and then they’re anxious to see more and more information to take the experience to the next level.
Ultimately, as more people get on board with monitoring their data and more device manufacturers open their APIs to partners, we could start seeing connectivity between our health sensors and other connected devices. One example Rahman gave was a connection between the Up Band and a home’s air conditioning system. Knowing that a user had just ran five miles because the band told it so, an air conditioner might adjust the house’s temperature so that the user doesn’t cool down too quickly.
It’s tough to tell how many people will actually buy into Jawbone’s vision of personal health, but it’s difficult to argue with the company’s approach. As Rahman noted, phones are becoming the center of people’s digital lives, so why shouldn’t we expect they’ll use them to better understand how our lifestyles affect our bodies? There already are apps to program everything from DVRs to alarm systems to ovens, so what’s one more that might actually help us live a little longer?
Photo by Pinar Ozger.