The Jawbone Up is based on technology called MotionX from a company called Fullpower. The US Patent Office has issued patent 8,568,310 to Fullpower. There are 22 claims to the patent; this is the first and most foundational:
A method of monitoring human activity using multiple sensors comprising: monitoring accelerations using an inertial sensor; identifying a user activity based on the accelerations; making a first estimation of a user activity statistic associated with the user activity based on the accelerations, the user activity statistic being one of: a distance traveled or a speed of travel; making a second estimation of the user activity statistic based on location information obtained by a location based sensor; and calculating the user activity statistic based on the first estimation and the second estimation, wherein the calculated user activity statistic is a result of a weighted combination of the first estimation and the second estimation.
Let’s unpack that. The patent appears to cover using a combination of motion and location sensors to track and calculate a user’s activity and travel.
Further claims building on that include transmitting this data to a smartphone or computer and doing a reality check on the data collected. If we read this right, the patent also covers using motion and location sensors to act as remote controls for other devices.
Fullpower’s CEO is Phillipe Kahn. Tech veterans will recognize Kahn as an important pioneer in the PC and mobile industries. As the CEO of Borland International, he introduced cheap programming languages, inexpensive utilities and disruptive database technologies to the desktop world. His second act was to invent wireless data synchronization. His third act was to invent the cellphone camera. This is an interesting fourth act.