For a large chunk of last year, Pando’s James Robinson followed the utterly ridiculous story of the even more ridiculous “Healbe GoBe”. The device, which raised over a million dollars on Indiegogo, claimed to be able to count the number of calories you had consumed throughout the day by reading blood glucose levels through your wrist.
Despite the fact that doctor after doctor after scientist after scientist lined up to tell Pando that the claims made by the device were “some straight Ghostbusters, Peter Venkman bullshit,” Indiegogo refused to pull the campaign. At one point, the crowdfunding platform actually secretly changed its terms and conditions to remove a guarantee against fraudulent devices.
Still, it seems that Barnum (maybe) was right: There’s a sucker born every minute. Today’s newborn doofus is CNET, which just published a lengthy puff piece on the GoBe to coincide with the device’s CES debut.
It claims to count your calories for you by using an impedance sensor. The story goes that, after you eat, your glucose levels will begin to rise, which your cells will absorb while they release water. When that’s happening, the GoBe is continually using its impedance sensor to shoot high and low frequency signals through your body tissue to measure the fluids moving in and out of your cells.
From there, Healbe’s Flow Technology uses an “advanced algorithm” to analyse the impedance readings and create a picture of your daily nutrition, including automatic calorie count.
Bizarrely, for a site which once prided itself on its consumer reviews, CNET goes on to admit “If we sound a little cautious in our language around these claims, it’s because we haven’t tested the device properly.”
In point of fact, if CNET thinks for one second that the device is capable of delivering on any of the above claims then it hasn’t tested the GoBe at all. Which is not surprising given, as Robinson reported here on Pando, the company refuses to allow journalists (or anyone else) to actually test the device.
Given Healbe’s track record, it’s likely the company is planning a big PR push at CES, hoping more gullible reporters like those at CNET will be so wrapped up in the notion of a magical wristwatch that they’ll actually publish sentences like:
Calories claims aside, the device certainly has a striking design.
Yeah, and Bernie Madoff sure played a mean pinball.
For the benefit, then, of those reporters struggling against both deadline and borderline criminal incompetence, here’s a link to all of James Robinson’s coverage of Healbe.
And if you do find yourself being pitched by the folks at Healbe, just remember one simple phrase: “Cool watch guys… can I test it out for myself?” Your readers will thank you.
[Illustration by Brad Jonas for Pando]