REVIEW – Fitness nerds love to keep track of stats and data, so they should love a wearable device that measures hydration and other body composition stats right? That’s what the Aura Strap claims to provide. Let’s take a look and see if it lives up to those claims.
What is it?
The Aura Strap is an add on for your Apple Watch that uses bioimpedance to measure your body’s hydration, fat %, muscle %, lean mass, protein %, bone mass, and visceral fat %.
What is in the box?
- Aura Strap
- Quick start guide
Design and features
The Aura Strap is a direct replacement for the strap on your Apple Watch series 1 or newer. It works with 38/40 mm as well as 42/44 mm Apple Watches. The strap is very much like nylon sports straps, but instead of having just one side that tightens, the Aura Strap can be tightened on both sides.
The side of the band that faces out has two smooth stainless steel contacts and there are two more contacts on the side of the band that touches the inside of your wrist. You will also notice that there’s a button on the side of the Aura module. This button initiates a measurement reading.
On the opposite side of the Aura strap is a speaker.
A small Philips screwdriver is included with the Aura Strap to allow you to open it up to replace the CR2025 coin cell battery that powers the device. Aura says that one battery will power the strap for up to 6 months with once a day measurements. Yay, no charging needed!
The Aura Strap is available in two sizes. The small Aura Strap fits 144 – 200 mm wrists in circumference and the larger strap fits 150 – 225 mm wrists. I was sent the smaller strap and found that it was still too large for my wrist even with both sides of the strap tightened.
Unfortunately, there’s not an easy way to shorten the straps.
How does the Aura Strap work?
The strap does not need to be paired with the watch your iPhone. The strap uses ultrasound to send data to the Apple Watch during the measurement phase.
The iPhone app
To use the Aura Strap with your Apple Watch, you need the iPhone version of the app AND the Apple Watch app. The iPhone app has a simple interface that shows the most recent measurement stats. You can click on the individual stats to see daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly graphs of each stat.
The Apple Watch app
The Apple Watch app is used to start a measurement. To do this, you start the app, click the start button on the watch, and then you’ll see a circular progress meter. You need to then press the button on the Aura Strap and place the electrodes on the strap against your other palm while reading is being done.
If you’ve done everything right, as far as starting the app, starting the measurement, pressing the button on the strap, and placing your hands in the right position, you’ll feel a short vibration and then see the results of the measurement. If not, you’ll see a screen like the one shown above. Unfortunately, I saw the screen above quite frequently. It’s very important how you hold your hands together during the reading and it’s equally important that it’s quiet where you’re doing the reading since the strap uses sound.
See it in action (or not)
The video above makes it look pretty easy to do a reading, but about half the time the measurement would fail. Even more concerning is that if I would do 2-3 readings back to back, the measurements would be significantly different.
What I like
- Doesn’t require charging
What I’d change
- Improve measurement operation and accuracy
- Allow strap length to be more easily adjustable/shortened
I’m a fitness geek. I like recording my weight trends, heart rate trends, and activity trends. So I was interested to try the Aura Strap for even more data. But after testing this product, I have to say that I’m not very impressed. First of all, the measurement operation fails frequently, which is annoying. But worse than that is that I don’t know if I can trust the readings when they vary wildly between readings that are within a minute of each other.
I don’t really care what my hydration % is because if I’m thirsty, I’ll just drink something. But I do like the idea of tracking my fat % and muscle %. I just don’t know if I can trust this device. For example, I did 2 tests back to back and one showed my fat % was 42.15% and the other one showed it as 22.06%. Same with lean mass %. Within seconds of each reading, it went from 74.92 lbs to 100.93 lbs. I say skip this one.