Thursday, November 10, 2011


UP, Our Magical Bracelet Overlord

What is up with UP? Released this fall, the bracelet/iPhone duo tracks our every move, telling us when it's time to wake up, when it's time to stop sitting down, what to eat, how to exercise, and who to kill. Or, at least four of those. Here's an overview, here are FAQs, and here's where to buy (it costs $99).

"Awesome? Or terrible? Or the future?" writes reader Amy D. "Or awesome? I swear I don't work for this company." But the longer we wear the bracelet, how strongly can we be sure of anything?

29 Comments / Post A Comment


Creepy! And ugly. If it looked like an heirloom snake bracelet though...

Evelyn Brumfield@facebook

There is something else out there called the Fitbit that is much more awesome than this and isn't as ugly!


@Evelyn Brumfield@facebook I have a fitbit. It is pretty great, but this looks a little better. It seems to hold more data. I really like the food picture thing.

Seems as though I am in the minority though.


@whereismyrobot and @Evelyn Brumfield@facebook I have a fitbit and I was just about to post a comment saying everyone needs to get THAT instead. I mean, I haven't actually used an UP but from what I've read, it's so much worse than a fitbit. The UP records your activity by arm movement - so if you're doing something where your arms are moving but your body isn't (typing, signing, drumming, cooking), you're getting a lot more activity credit than you should be. But if you're doing something like pushing a stroller, where you're walking but your arms are barely moving, you don't get credit for that. Also, the food logging is basically just that you take a picture of your food, then say how good you felt after it. What? After I eat a mixing bowl full of spaghetti and ground beef I feel AMAZING but that doesn't mean I should eat that every day. The only area where it seems to me like the UP is better is that it buzzes to remind you to move, which could be an interesting feature.

But I'm a fitbit fangirl. I don't know what I ever did without it.


@KeLynn It depends how the food thing is implemented. I've been meaning to keep a food diary, because SOMETHING is setting off my migraines but I can't work out what. But food diaries are hard. So, if it logs your food (well, you do it, but it makes that easier, I guess?) and also tracks mood/health long term.

But if it's just 'you put that in your mouth, do you feel good' then, yeah. I agree. Also, I have not been eating disordered since I was a teen, and then only mildly, but MAN I can see this leading there. Must. Record. Everything. Gain. Points.


wait.. this is a book trailer for a dystopian novel... right?


@DarthRachel Oooh I just thought of the best story about these! You do everything it says for years, and then they all command its users to commit suicide, AND THEY DO.


@Megan Patterson@facebook
Any and all dissidents will have their bracelets removed which will entail certain death as by then the bracelets will have replaced the body's natural circulatory system.

Katie Scarlett

At some point one of the characters needs to take off their bracelet and their hand will fall off like that scary story The Green Ribbon. Or their head could fall off. I'm not picky.


@Katie Scarlett Can we write a collaborative hairpin novel? That would be great.


You know how this ends? The bracelet sends out little tentacles of evil, which become embedded in your nervous system and take over your body. Oh, sure, you'll be so well-rested and so fit and healthy and strong - until they force you to become A KILLING MACHINE. And then you die in a hail of bullets, God bless America. That's how this ends!

mademoiselle cait

This song is far too cinematic for a device that's telling me I'm sitting on my ass too much.


Unless that buzz is the sound of the bracelet administering a strong electric shock, I doubt my unconscious self is going to find UP that persuasive.


@Cawendaw Actually, I've started sleeping with earplugs (I live next to a factory. DO NOT EVEN get me started) and I find my phone alarm still wakes me up with the vibration, even if I can't hear it, even if it's on the bedside table. Even if the factory is also vibrating my house! (Seriously. Do NOT GET ME STARTED). And it's way more restful than actual noise to wake up to.


i'm most troubled by sending My Bracelet Overlord pictures of my food, like you would to an emotionally abusive husband or something. I'd imagine it vibrating and saying, "skip the cheese on your sandwich next time, fatty."


@candybeans If it did that it would totally work though.


The thing that creeps me out the most about it (but isn't quite deterring me from wanting it) (but maybe it should) is the fact that you, apparently, can see how people around you are progressing in their goals/habits. It reminds me a lot of those scary infernal "äppäräts" from Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story that ranked and categorized people by their health and attractiveness. The video that reviews My Bracelet Overlord discusses this feature and compares it to facebook but I argue it takes facebook creepiness to a whole new level. (Still want one though.) (No, I don't need it!) (Do I?)


@AmyDun It makes me think of this TED talk (I think I'm linking right, I can't listen at work). Which I don't have a problem with, as such (I love me that little video game dopamine rush).

The thing I DO have a problem with is who is deciding what is good/gets you points. I mean, it's going to be right, white, straight, cis guys, right? There're already many many real world scenarios for why some privileged Data Monsters aren't maybe the best equipped for making decisions about what's best for everyone.


Does this come for Android? I waaaaaant it. I fucking love data. Give me all the data on my life and habits, yesssss.


@lovelettersinhell I have a similar gizmo (fitbit) and the data is SO ADDICTING. I get SUPER bummed out if I forget to track my sleep one night, or if I forget my thing on the charger and go for a walk without it.


I don't like it! Creepy to the max. We've gone too far. I don't need technology dictating and recording my every move. If it told me to walk, I'd do the opposite (stay sitting?) just to spite it.

Are we supposed to learn from these patterns? Am I ever going to go back and look at that crap? "Oh wow, I remember that Wednesday at work, I totally stood up and drank a glass of water at 10am... man, those were the days."


Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can't see where it keeps its brain.


@Sara Pauff@facebook

Rich Amor

@spauff Absolutely. I'm with you spauff


I don't get it. How does it know?


@MSD From your movement


Okay, it's weird in the way that I kind of want one but most certainly don't actually want one. But also, if, like in the video, someone started doing moderate stretching in the hallway of my office? They would never live it down. That's how I know this is really fiction.


@foureyedgirl This. I was immediately like 'ooh, I need to move more at work!' And then I realised that the reason I don't move more is not that I don't realise, it's the social censure I get for not sitting like a lump at my desk.

So, this will not fix it. 'But the man who lives in my finger told me to stretch!'


Oh my God, why do I want this so much? I hate myself for how badly I want this (I just want to know ALL THE THINGS I do because really I have no idea)

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