Basis Health Tracker - Recalled

Multi-sensor Watch Support Ends December, 2016

Basis Health Tracker Watch
Basis Health Tracker Watch. Basis ©

The Basis Health Tracker watch was a pioneer of multi-sensor watches,. However, reports of overheating and risk of burns was reported in the summer of 2016. Basis issued a recall of all of the Basis Peak and B1 watches in September, 2016 and will issue refunds.

Basis has ended support for its watches and announced data will be shut off on December 31, 2016. At that time, any remaining watches still in use will stop working.

Review - Original Basis Health Tracker (Discontinued and Recalled)

The Basis is a multi-sensor watch that does what accelerometer-based wristband fitness trackers do -- tracking movement to give you a pedometer step and intensity reading. But it also gives you a continuous resting heart rate reading, and uses perspiration and skin temperature readings to fine-tune calorie, activity and sleep data. The Basis puts this into a convenient watch display, while its nearest competitor, the BodyMedia FIT system, relies on a conspicuous armband.

Basis automatically detects and tracks workouts (walking, running and biking) and sleep in addition to your all-day activity readings. It's aim is to make everything automatic -- you don't need to tell it when to start and stop tracking workouts or sleep.

Basis links via Bluetooth Classic to iOS and Android mobile devices on demand and connects to PC or Mac computers via a USB cradle.

On both the app and your online dashboard, you get great charts of your data and can set and track healthy habits such as "Don't Be a Sitter" and "Get More Sleep" with badges and point rewards for meeting daily goals.

Basis CEO Jef Holove says that they plan to continue to roll out firmware, app and web site improvements to let you see and use the data that the Basis sensors provide.

You should only need to buy the Basis once and will see a continuously improving stream of data and healthy habit coaching.
Basis Web Site

Who is the Basis Right For?

Jef Holove says there are three kinds of people who buy the Basis. The first are "quantified selfers" who just love recording all sorts of data about themselves. I resemble that one.

The prime audience for Basis is the person who wants to be more active and more healthy but doesn't have a formal workout regimen. We think we want data, but what we really need is to be engaged with tracking activity and using the data to build healthy habits. Too many health trackers get forgotten in the sock drawer because they didn't engage you.

But a surprise audience is the athlete who may use a heart rate monitor for their serious workouts, but wants an all-day health tracker to improve their sleep and note their resting heart rate so they can optimize their performance.

Setting up the Basis Health Tracker

The Basis must be worn on your wrist so the sensors on the reverse of the watch are in contact with your skin. It comes in basic black, and you can purchase a white or multicolored strap or leather strap to change its appearance.

Computer and Mobile Requirements: To use the Basis Sync USB cradle to upload data, you need a Windows XP Pro, 7, 8 or higher or a Mac OSX 10.6 or higher.

The iOS app works with Bluetooth-enabled devices such as iPhone 4 and above running iOS 7 and above. The Android app should work with phones running Jelly Bean 4.1 and higher. Create an account and register the Basis Band and you should then be able to sync data with either Bluetooth or with the USB cradle.

Data such as your age, height and weight are used to provide a more accurate calorie-burn and heart rate intensity calculation.

There are no ongoing fees to use the app or online dashboard.

Power: The Basis is recharged by plugging it into the USB cradle, either into a computer or with any USB power plug (not provided).

You have to use the custom cradle. The charge should last for three to five days. The Basis will alert you when it is down to 10% charge. It saves 7 days worth of data before needing to be synced to free up data storage.

What Basis Tracks

Watch Display: Yes, it's a watch! The display is dim unless you press one of the four buttons to activate the LED. You can scroll through day, date, time of day (hours and minutes only), total steps for the day, total calories burned, active time, heart rate, and progress towards your steps goal. When Basis detects you are doing a workout, it displays the elapsed time for that workout. For example, I went out for a walk and after 10 minutes, my watch began to show my walking time for that workout in addition to the other data.
More: Pedometer Watches

Steps: The Basis tracks both all-day steps and the totals for distinct workouts. I found that it was very effective in editing out junk arm movements and only recording steps. In fact, it recorded fewer steps than the Fitbit One worn on my waistband.

Calories Burned: Because Basis is recording not just your movement, but also heart rate, skin temperature, and perspiration, it should give a very accurate calorie burn count. You can see both your running all-day calorie burn total and the calories burned during specific workouts and time periods.

Heart Rate: The Basis gives you a continuous heart rate readout. But they are quick to tell you that it gives you ongoing snapshots of your heart rate rather than the minute-by-minute detail you would get from a chest strap heart rate monitor. This data is displayed in the app and online activity graphs. I found it to be consistent within 5 beats per minute when I wore a Polar heart rate monitor strap. However, I also experienced times when the Basis was not continuously reading my heart rate, perhaps due to me jostling the watch so it  wasn't making good skin contact. It is best to consider this a snapshot and not rely on it to tell you your heart rate at any given moment.

Active Time and Workouts: On the watch you can see your total active time for the day, and an exercise timer automatically displays with the elapsed workout time when you have been active for 10 continuous minutes or more. It notes whether you are walking, running, or biking. Online and on the app you see your total active time for the day, plus breakouts for each active period of 10 minutes or more of walking, running or biking. The biking must be on a moving bicycle, not a stationary cycle, or it will not record as a biking workout. You can't log workouts other than what Basis records automatically. If you forgot to wear your Basis during the workout or did an activity it doesn't track, you can't enter it manually.

Sleep: Basis knows when you are sleeping and knows when you're awake. Nodding off in a meeting for a minute or two won't get logged as a sleep episode, but I've had it automatically (and correctly) log a nap of 21 minutes sitting in my easy chair in front of the TV. You get a daily sleep total time, times interrupted, sleep quality score and a weekly sleep report. Basis rolled out further sleep analysis in early 2014. REM sleep "Mind Refresh" time, time in "Body Refresh" deep sleep, time in light sleep and number of toss/turn times. Three of the Healthy Habits you can choose to track are centered on sleep -- consistent bed time, consistent wake-up time, and total sleep time.
More: Sleep-Tracking Activity Monitors

Motivation - My Habits: I've used dozens of activity monitors, and only a couple have really made me change my daily routine -- and Basis is at the top of that list. From the first day you set Habits to achieve, starting with "Wear It" to wear the Basis for 12 hours or more a day. I next chose "Don't Be a Sitter" where I can earn the badge for never sitting for more than one hour at a time, and a "Step it Up" daily step goal.

You earn points by achieving the daily goals you have already set in order to unlock a slot to add a new habit. This keeps you from taking on too many changes at once, and gives you an incentive to achieve them.

You can see how you are performing over the course of a week for each habit, and drill down for details. You can change your goals for each habit, and pause them or swap them out for a different one. I added Morning Lap and Afternoon Lap so I could ensure I was spreading my walking workouts throughout the day.
More: 10 Ways Your Pedometer Can Motivate You

Insights: Your dashboard on the app and the web site shows totals, workouts, and daily habits both in quick detail and drill-down detail.

Data: You can see individual workouts and any period of the day in detail with totals and minute-by-minute step count, calorie burn, heart rate, perspiration and skin temperature. You can also view each of these as a color-coded pattern for the past week.

Social: While you can tie your account to your Facebook account, I couldn't currently find a way to post from the site to Facebook. This is likely something that is "to come."

Portability: You can use the app or the USB cradle for syncing and must sync every seven days or lose data. You have to use the custom USB cradle to recharge the Basis every three to five days.

Bottom Line on the Basis


  • This model is now discontinued, and both it and the Basis Peak have been recalled. Data support ends December 31, 2016 after which the watch will not work.
  • It is not a substitute for a chest strap heart rate monitor to track exertion during a workout, or a workout coaching program.
  • There is no tie-in with a diet-tracking program, mostly because there is no way to automate this. However, you can use the one of your choice in addition to the Basis app and website.
  • No distance estimate and it doesn't detect elevation changes to track stairs. Again, you can use one of many apps to do that.
  • It doesn't give you inactivity alerts to reduce your sitting time.


  • The Habits are highly motivational and useful.
  • I love the automatic workout detection and automatic sleep detection. It is almost completely automated, you can't forget to record your all-day activity, workouts, or sleep.
  • The sleep analysis is more detailed than other activity trackers and it is tied to developing healthy sleep habits.