A growing number of startups focus on the “quantified self,” a numerical representation of everything that we do, feel, hear, or are. Some, like Stephen Wolfram, take this to the extreme and measure every email, phone call, and keystroke. Others simply want to track how many calories they consume and burn each day. Perhaps, as the analog shifts to the digital, we have shifted from “deus ex machina” – God from the machine – to “homo ex machina,” using our digital counters and memories to find meaning in binary.
Mindbloom, a Seattle-based company focusing on health and wellness, is today releasing Juice, a new app that helps quantify a user’s energy levels throughout the day. The app is being released as part of a new partnership with Vivacity, a “workforce wellness” company. This multi-year partnership will give Vivacity’s 270,000 users access to Mindbloom’s app and represents a financial commitment in the “healthy seven figures.”
The company certainly took the juice metaphor to heart, as the main face of the app is an interactive juice bottle, and users can empty or fill the bottle to rate their energy on a scale from “great” to “awful.” Then the app prompts users to enter the “ingredients” of their day, rating their sleep, exercise, and eating habits on a sliding scale. Once users have entered their information they can see everything on a graph (quantified self addicts love data representation) and try to figure out what habits they need to change.
To describe Juice’s design as kitschy would be an understatement. Users don’t simply slide their finger to choose a sleep, exercise, or nutrition rating – they drag their finger and watch as a sheep goes through the various stages of jumping over a fence, or a man progresses from lounging on the couch to running a marathon. Whether this is maddening or exciting will vary from person to person.
Users can unlock new ingredients, including “balance,” “mood,” and “stress,” for 100 “credits” a pop. These credits can be purchased for 99 cents (this feature appears to be broken at time of writing, as my iPhone displayed a “no products were found” alert during testing), and users can also get 100 free credits for agreeing to let Vivacity send them daily health tips.
Whether or not Juice can actually improve users’ lives is hard to determine. Other companies and product lines, such as Fitbit, Up by Jawbone, and the Nike FuelBand, have been built around this quantified self -slash- wellness market, and Juice is significantly easier for laypersons to use than most of those solutions. The trick is getting people to use the app, and, as I wrote yesterday, fighting apathy is often a losing battle.
But, if there’s a company that knows how to appeal to the average person, it’s Mindbloom. The company’s Bloom app, a mashup between an inspirational app and personal goal manager (the mix didn’t make sense to me at first, either), has been downloaded almost 300,000 times and currently sits at a 4-star rating in the App Store. Maybe kitsch is what the people want.