If it works, the GoBe will be life-changing. But it’s a big if.
The GoBe is a bracelet that looks like a small microplane has been affixed to a black watchband—the top of the microplane is a display, and its underside is a sensor. Through its “patented flow technology,” the GoBe promises to measure the wearer’s heart rate, calories burned, sleep, and stress levels. That’s all conceivable, given what the FitBit and other body trackers already measure. But the GoBe also promises something a little more sensational: Automatically tracking the calories of everything the wearer eats, through his or her skin.
“We live in an age where people struggle with their diets and need simple ways to take control of their health,” Artem Shipitsyn, the CEO of GoBe’s parent company, HealBe, says in a video on the device’s Indiegogo campaign page. He says the technology would help “people like me live a healthy life with less effort.”
The automatic calorie-tracking, which GoBe claims to do by reading glucose levels in cells, would revolutionize dieting—even the best calorie-counting apps today rely on manual food logging.
“Tell it nothing. Know everything,” the soothing video narrator’s voice says over b-roll of people skiing and clicking on their smartphones.
The premise was so lofty, in fact, that it didn’t take long for tech reporters, led by PandoDaily’s James Robinson, to attack.
Let’s say GoBe does measure glucose levels without piercing the skin, as it claims to do. That would be a godsend to diabetics, who, as it stands, must regularly prick their fingers to test blood sugar. The less-invasive technology is probably coming soon, Michelle MacDonald, a clinical dietician at the National Jewish Health hospital in Denver, told PandoDaily, “but when it does it will be the size of a shoebox ... It will come from a big lab, will be huge news and make a lot of money.”
But on top of that, blood glucose is only a rough measure of total energy intake. Eat a tablespoon of olive oil, and you’ve consumed 119 calories, but your blood sugar would barely rise. A very thin slice of white bread, meanwhile, would send blood sugar soaring and only yields 40 calories.
From its launch in March, the GoBe campaign steadily raked in Indiegogo donations—it’s now at 1,081 percent of its original $100,000 goal. Robinson stayed on the warpath, citing more and more experts who denounced the GoBe technology and publishing several more articles about what he considers to be a complete scam.
HealBe began commenting negatively on Robinson’s articles, then deleting the comments. GoBe backers started demanding refunds. Delivery of the finished device was pushed back to August.
“I’ve been seeing some disturbing articles regarding this project,” one commenter wrote on the HealBe Indiegogo campaign page. “Various articles stating that the things that the GoBe promises cannot be done ... Can anyone offer a rebuttal? Worried about all of the delays and negative statements. Thanks!” See more…