You’ve been clamoring to get your hands on a Basis band. We’d love to get one to you.
So, where is it?
We’re on it. Making an integrated hardware+software experience is a process of testing, learning and refining. It just takes more time than you anticipate. As Basis’ COO and product lead, my focus (and the team’s) is on delivering a great user experience that delights and inspires people to engage with their health.
With that in mind, I’d like to share some of our lessons learned. We still aren’t quite ready to do product reveals, but I am sharing specific insights that are influencing our path. We’ll tell more in subsequent posts.
Lesson 1 – Make Data Compelling
A device like Basis generates lots of data by continuously capturing vital signs. Our data-centric users love that about it and, in beta testing, always ask for more. Net, the Basis team is continually tempted to build more charts, tables and graphs to visualize the data.
When we feel that urge to build “one more chart or summary table”, we try hard to remember that people aren’t just looking for data. They are also looking for insight and meaning in the data. Most biometric data is reasonably flat (especially when viewed over time) so you really have to focus on visualizations that bring patterns and exceptional events to light. We try hard to surface those events and make user interactions with the data delightful and insightful.
Here are 3 examples we’ve seen that we feel do a great job of bringing patterns and exceptions to light:
i. Trulia — Heatmap that visually highlights days/times when people hunt for housing (showing behavior changes over time)
ii. New York Times — Stacked area chart of how Americans spend their days ( showing dynamic cumulative changes over time)
iii. GE — Stream graph of which appliances contribute the most to energy use and when (showing variable changes along specific timelines)
Lesson 2: Lots of data ≠ Engagement
While we still rely on charts and graphs of the raw data to surface facts and discover patterns, our primary focus is to ensure that Basis is doing its job as a tool for people to stay engaged with their health.
In our beta testing, we found that what works best for engagement is a combination of:
- Suggesting small, actionable steps based on a user’s data;
- Feedback loops that reinforce positive behavior, and;
- Having content that keeps the experience fresh over time.
There’s lots of interesting literature and work around those principles (check out Nudge, The Decision Tree and The Power of Habit, as well as apps from fellow startups like Lift.do, and SuperBetter).
We’ve resisted the urge to smother users with data because it’s counterproductive. Getting people to stay consistently engaged with their wellbeing in a fun, positive way is our #1 goal.
Lesson 3: Test early and often
The best part about working on a product like Basis is that you can personally use and get others to try early versions of the product. Like any product company, we do lots of testing – on the bench, in the lab and, most importantly in the real world.
Our beta testing frequently uncovers things that we don’t always find in lab testing. For example, how everyday activities like driving, typing or even a yoga pose can be detected by motion sensors. Or how a change in hardware requires further changes to the software or overall experience.
We found that creativity loves constraint. The most important benefit of our “early and often” testing is that it revealed engineering and usability constraints that the Basis team rose to solve. We discovered that asking users to enter data to self-log data was not sustainable (too much friction). We discovered that users stop wearing consumer health devices several times a day (by showering, forgetting) which means there’s no data tracked. This breaks day-over-day and week-over week comparisons. We also found unexpected correlations such as how your daily activity level can affect your sleep quality. Learning about these early in the process help us incorporate them into our product design.
Test early and often. We recommend it.
In Conclusion: Shooting High
These are 3 important lessons that we learned in the process of building Basis. As you can see, we have been making significant progress on delivering a compelling experience since our update at CES. Basis is taking a fundamentally different approach by focusing on insights and engagement, instead of just presenting charts and stats.
If there’s one last lesson I’ll leave you with, it’s that none of this would be possible without a dedicated team. Building a product like this isn’t easy but it is easier if you have the right scientists, designers and engineers, playing well together as a team. We’ve put together a great team so far and will always look for the right people as we continue to grow. (PS: If you’re interested in joining the Basis team, check out our careers section and drop us a note.)
Thanks for reading!