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  • Writer's pictureTyler

WHOOP Unlocked | Event Recap

Updated: Jun 7, 2023

Health & Fitness company WHOOP unveiled a host of new technology spanning hardware, software, and apparel. Learn about what they released in this event recap.

 

WHOOP unlocked event

Overview:

On September 8th, leading health and fitness wearable company WHOOP shared with the world the most significant product release in the companies history. The "Apple-like" product unveiling was hosted by WHOOP Co-Founder Will Ahmed, and included big name speakers like Michael Phelps and Tony Robbins, who helped articulate the transformative power the technology has had on their lives. Below is a short recap with some commentary on the next generation strap, new software features, and first-of-its-kind apparel line.

 

WHOOP 4.0:

Form Factor

The first difference users will notice between the WHOOP 3.0 and the new 4.0 is that the overall form factor is 33% smaller. While the size wasn't a primary pain point in the 3.0, this is a welcome upgrade that should allow the device to blend even more seamlessly into the body, particularly for female users with smaller wrists. WHOOP deserves a ton of credit for increasing the number of sensors and maintaining the battery life while shrinking the overall size.


Sensors

WHOOP sensor technology

At the core of the WHOOP experience is the bevy of sensors that collect and process data about the user. The sensor suite in the 4.0 was overhauled and now contains 4x the number of photodiodes compared to the 3.0. It is also paired with five LEDs, including green, red, and infrared-light-emitting diodes. The additional quantity and style of LED should improve data accuracy, particularly while the wrist is in motion during activity and for users of diverse skin



As a complement to the heart rate sensors, the WHOOP 4.0 also features a skin temperature sensor and a blood-oxygen sensor (SBO2), which will unlock new health metrics for users to track. These are welcome additions to the sensor suite, but given that skin temperature and SBO2 monitoring have been available in Garmin, Fitbit, and Oura ring products for a while now, this feels more like keeping up than an actual innovation.

Although it is not technically a sensor, the final addition in this category is the haptic feedback motor, which allows the device to vibrate and provide alerts. Since WHOOP does not have a screen, this finally provides a way for the device to "communicate" with the user. I will explain how WHOOP plans to leverage this motor in the software section below.


Bands

WHOOP 4.0 strap

Recognizing the intimate experience of wearing something 24/7, WHOOP has always pushed hard to enable massive personalization for its users. It has dozens of different strap designs and offers the "WHOOP Your Way" customization tool, allowing for hundreds of different color and pattern combinations. Although this customization has always been welcome, the strap on the 3.0 was difficult to change, so most users stuck with just one option for extended periods.


The 4.0 comes with a new "Fast Link" system that allows users to easily swap out the bands, enabling a new level of customization. Users can now change the look multiple times a day for the perfect fit and function, whether they are going to the gym or out to a nice dinner.


Battery Pack

WHOOP charging pack

One of the unique features that sets WHOOP apart from the competition is that it's designed to be worn 24/7. The user does not have to take it off their wrist to attach it to a charger like with most health trackers. Instead, it is powered by a battery pack that slides onto the device. Since the user never has to take their WHOOP off, the device can collect data nonstop without any health monitoring gaps.



The only problem with this solution is that it is easy to forget that you are wearing a battery pack. It’s common for users, myself included (more times than I would like to admit) to get into the shower while wearing the device and ruin the charger, which costs about $50. The battery pack for the 4.0 is now waterproof, utilizing wireless charging technology and thus eliminating a pain point that many customers have experienced. To top it off, the 4.0 also features an LED indicator that allows you to see the level of charge without opening the app.

 

Software:

Even though the new hardware is impressive and industry-leading, I think WHOOP's incredible growth can really be attributed to its software. I would rank its iOS app as one of the best that I have ever used. The interface, stability, presentation of data, and the constant flow of new features provide an unparalleled experience that none of its competitors have come close to matching. The new sensors in the 4.0 offer additional avenues for WHOOP’s developers to showcase their talent, and the company has wasted no time debuting the Health Monitor and overhauling the Sleep Coach.

Health Monitor

WHOOP app screen shot

Health Monitor is a new dashboard-like visualization that displays all of your key vitals in one place. It uses a color-coded system to tell you if anything is out of range given your typical baseline, and it will send you an alert if something seems off. The inspiration behind this feature came from users wanting to track their respiratory rate as an early warning signal for COVID-19. Since a person’s respiratory rate stays relatively consistent when they are healthy, a large deviation from baseline can indicate that something abnormal might be going on. Health Monitor extrapolates on that demand for respiration tracking by including all the metrics that WHOOP tracks, making it a quick way to check on the ever-expanding supply of data.


One of the best features of Health Monitor is that all of the metrics are easily exportable via PDF. With the click of a button, you can now share 30-day and 180-day health trends with a coach, trainer, or physician.


Sleep Coach

WHOOP app screenshot

Sleep tracking is arguably the most critical insight that WHOOP provides, because no matter the user’s health goal, sleep is vitally important. The Sleep Coach has been a favorite feature of WHOOP users, highlighting how much sleep you need based on various factors, including how hard your day was and how much sleep you got the previous night. Sleep Coach got an overhaul with the release of the 4.0 and can now leverage the haptic motor to serve as a silent alarm in the morning.


The Sleep Coach can now wake you up at a specific time based on your sleep goals or when your recovery is in the green. Instead of using a static number for "sleep need" and setting a fixed alarm, WHOOP can now dynamically monitor your body during the night to help wake you up at the optimal time. This continuous monitoring paired with intelligent technology is the future of performance optimization.

 

Apparel:

At the tail end of the event came the announcement of WHOOP Body apparel with Any-Wear™ technology. While the advancements in the 4.0 strap are excellent, they are primarily evolutionary and not genuinely pushing the bounds for the wearable industry. On the other hand, WHOOP Body completely changes the landscape for wearables and is a window into the future of what connected health might look like.


WHOOP Body is designed around the 4.0 device, allowing it to be placed inside the garment in a specially designed pod to enable continuous tracking and accurate data readings. Garment options include boxers, bralettes, and all manner of compression training gear. Providing opportunities beyond the wrist allows for a new level of versatility to ensure that the WHOOP blends seamlessly with your lifestyle, no matter the environment or activity. As Will Ahmed put it: "We've always aspired to develop wearable technology that is either cool or invisible. With the launch of the WHOOP 4.0 and WHOOP Body, we have accomplished both."

"We've always aspired to develop wearable technology that is either cool or invisible. With the launch of the WHOOP 4.0 and WHOOP Body, we have accomplished both."

After listening to the deep dive podcast WHOOP released after the event, I began to appreciate how revolutionary WHOOP Body was for the company and why it goes way beyond just making clothes. WHOOP had to study dozens of locations on the body to determine other viable places that the device could be worn and still get strong readings. Furthermore, clothing designers, textile experts, signal processing engineers, and hardware experts had to work together to figure out how to create garments that allow the device to be placed in those locations while feeling fully seamless to the user and being fully functional.


This melding of apparel, hardware, and software is exceedingly rare, and to my knowledge, has yet to be successfully executed at this kind of consumer scale. I personally don't think nearly enough credit was given during the event to the monumental task accomplished by this unique cross-functional team.


WHOOP Pro:

Wrapping up the event was the announcement of a new WHOOP Pro subscription. For $12/month on top of your current subscription, you can receive a free accessory item each quarter, 20% off everything in the store, and early access to new releases. These accessories include WHOOP Body apparel, battery packs, bands, and more. So, for people who know they will be buying some of the clothing to try out (myself included), this subscription may be worthwhile, offering a steady stream of apparel at a slightly discounted price.

 

Upgrade Cost:

When WHOOP launched the 3.0, it shifted from having users buy the device for $500 to a monthly subscription model. The company was adamant that this shift would not only better align it with its members’ interests, but that members would always have access to the latest in WHOOP technology for no additional cost. I was curious if it would stick to that promise with a launch of this magnitude, and I was delighted that it did. Having most of your user base on the newest platform ensures the best possible product experience and allows the product team to focus on developing the latest technology and less on maintaining legacy systems. I suspect this focus will be a substantial competitive advantage for WHOOP in the long run.

 

Summary:

I have been a power user of WHOOP since early 2017 (early enough for the company to consider me a "founding member"), beginning my journey with the 2.0 strap. The platform has come an incredibly long way since then, and with the release of the 4.0, WHOOP has taken great strides to address everything that I would have considered a pain point of the 3.0. The new device is more accurate, versatile, and complete than ever before, firmly positioning it as the leader in the health and fitness wearable space.


For details you can check out the full event video below:





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