powerwalk

Jawbone has partnered with Automatic to combine the activity data gathered by its Up wristband with the data gleaned from Automatic’s car analytics tool. The partnership aims to help people learn more about how their exercise habits relate to their driving habits.

The announcement follows a similar partnership between Jawbone and Whistle, the startup making a Fitbit for dogs (we know, we know), meant to help people compare their activity levels to their pet’s. It isn’t enough for Jawbone to know how many steps its customers have taken — now it wants to know where they drove and what their pets were up to, as well.

There’s only so much data to be gleaned from a high-tech bracelet that counts the number of times someone swings their wrist throughout the day. While that information can be useful, it’s hardly a complete view of someone’s life, and it won’t help them figure out what they can do to change. (No-one wants to spend $150 only to be given instructions like “walk more.”)

Partnering with companies like Automatic and Whistle can change that. Do you need to walk more? Maybe you shouldn’t have driven to the grocery store. Have you skipped the round-the-block walk for the last few days? Now you can see how that affects your pet, in addition to how that affects your waistline. Those are useful, actionable data points that can encourage exercise.

It isn’t enough to quantify one aspect of life. Counting steps can be useful, but no-one exercises in a vacuum. They’re also driving, caring for their pets, eating, drinking, and otherwise living their lives. Jawbone can’t gather all of that information through its glorified wristband, but it can form partnerships that allow it to access that data without developing new product lines.

Cars and pets are a good place for Jawbone to start: 95 percent of American households own at least one car, and 62 percent count at least one pet as a member of the family. Combine that with the vast majority of Americans who need to walk each day, and the 27 percent of people who are considered obese and should walk more than before, and you’ve got one big market.

Counting steps has served Jawbone well so far, but the company has clearly realized that it’s not about the steps — it’s about what’s happening in between them.

[Photo by Michael Coghlan]