When encountering a gadget labelled “for women,” skepticism often arises. The realm of femtech is a complex landscape, rife with promising ideas, but sometimes accompanied by borderline insulting execution, privacy concerns, and cheesy marketing. Amidst this mixed bag, some products stand out, genuinely appealing to users. The Bellabeat Ivy, priced at $249, is one such product that managed to capture our attention.
Bellabeat is no stranger to the wearable space, with its Leaf line of health trackers having been around for nearly a decade. However, previous experiences with their Leaf Urban tracker left some needing to be addressed. It was an alright tracker, but the app and features needed to be more complex, and the constant issue of it falling off the wrist or clothing was frustrating. By 2020, the once distinctive feature of period tracking had become commonplace among mainstream wearables, diminishing Bellabeat’s uniqueness. So, it came as a surprise when the Bellabeat Ivy was introduced, offering a vastly different experience.
The Bellabeat Ivy breaks free from the stereotype of wellness wearables “For Women” being mere gimmicks and delivers a refined and elegant product.
At first glance, the Bellabeat Ivy appears more like a piece of chic jewellery than a typical wearable gadget. Its roughly 38mm long and 28mm wide dimensions make it notably more petite than most trackers in the market. The super thin strap, stainless steel casing, and diamond-shaped design contribute to its aesthetic appeal, while its mere 9.9-gram weight ensures a lightweight and unobtrusive experience. The Ivy effortlessly blends into daily life, and during runs, it’s easy to forget one is wearing any technology at all.
However, upon closer inspection, the “stone” in the Ivy is revealed to be made of plastic, not an actual gemstone. This revelation, while a minor drawback, doesn’t significantly impact the overall appeal of the device. Additionally, the thin strap offers an advantage for those with petite wrists, providing a less bulky appearance compared to other smartwatches. Moreover, the silicone strap is gentle on the skin, a comforting aspect for users with sensitive skin.
Despite the Ivy’s elegant design, one aspect that proved bothersome was the keeper, the loop that is supposed to keep the strap in place. The keeper often failed to fulfill its purpose, leading to some frustration. Bellabeat advises trimming the strap during setup, but even after doing so, the floppiness persisted, making it reminiscent of inflatable tube people outside car dealerships.
Beyond aesthetics, the Ivy excels in wellness features, displaying a focus on users’ mental and holistic health. As the pandemic drove wearable makers to enhance stress, mindfulness, and overall health tracking, the Ivy aligns with this trend but stands out with its early integration of wellness elements.
Like other wellness wearables such as Oura Ring, Whoop, and Nowatch, the Ivy eschews a screen and push notifications, avoiding distractions that could lead to anxiety. By omitting battery-draining features, the Ivy boasts an impressive battery life of seven to eight days on a single charge.
Fitness tracking on the Ivy adopts a more balanced approach, setting realistic goals rather than pushing users to their limits. For example, the default daily step goal of 6,000 steps aligns with studies that indicate the most health benefits are derived from around 7,500 to 8,000 steps rather than the commonly touted 10,000 steps. Activity recommendations of 20 minutes per day contribute to meeting the American Heart Association’s moderate activity guidelines.
The Ivy’s wellness metrics encompass heart rate, resting heart rate, respiratory rate, and cardiac coherence. These metrics collectively contribute to three scores: Wellness, Stress Sensitivity, and Readiness. The Wellness score, graded on a scale of 1 to 100, updates throughout the day based on progress toward daily step, activity, meditation, hydration, and sleep goals. Stress Sensitivity, graded on a scale of 1 to 10, reflects how consistently goals are met, influencing stress levels. After three days, users receive a Readiness Score, based on resting heart rate, respiratory rate, and cardiac coherence. A higher Readiness Score indicates better preparedness for demanding activities or tasks. Notably, Bellabeat’s algorithms are calibrated for female bodies, acknowledging the data gap that exists for individuals with uteruses in the wellness tech space.
What sets Bellabeat apart is its approach to presenting information to users. Instead of including food logging or calorie counts, the Ivy’s Coach tab offers personalized food and workout suggestions based on the user’s cycle, embracing the concept of cycle syncing. The meditation tab provides several guided programs and white noise sounds of varying lengths, catering to users’ diverse preferences. While the Ivy allows users to log specific activities, the emphasis remains on time spent being active rather than metrics like pace, distance, or time. This simplified approach is well-suited for individuals seeking a more mindful and holistic wellness journey rather than data-driven fitness enthusiasts.
While the Ivy performs well in various aspects of wellness tracking, its period tracking features left something to be desired. Users encountered difficulties when trying to import extensive cycle data, and the software often bugged out when entering two or more cycles. Consequently, the predictions might only partially be accurate during the initial setup. Moreover, the Ivy could not include factors or conditions that may impact the cycle, such as endometriosis or birth control. Additionally, the Ivy lacked the capability to set reminders for hormonal birth control methods, such as the pill or ring, which is a crucial feature for users dependent on these methods. Similarly, the Ivy did not provide options to log moods, symptoms, basal body temperature, or flow rate, features commonly found in other cycle-tracking apps.
Instead, the Bellabeat app focuses on educational content about various menstrual topics. It provides an illustration indicating the user’s current stage in their menstrual cycle, such as follicular or luteal phases. The app also displays the likelihood of conception on a given day, although it is crucial to emphasize that this should never be used as a form of birth control. Essentially, the Ivy offers a basic date-based cycle tracking system, but it needs to include more comprehensive and nuanced features available in other period tracking apps.
Nevertheless, the Bellabeat app caters to pregnancy tracking and offers tailored Coach content for pregnant users. While not an expert on pregnancy, the app provides useful information about appropriate foods during pregnancy, prenatal exercise classes, and relevant educational material. This emphasis on catering to pregnant users sets the Ivy apart from mainstream wearable devices, where pregnancy-specific insights are often lacking, except for fertility trackers.
Considering the Ivy’s price point of $250, certain users might perceive the Ivy as relatively pricey in comparison to Bellabeat’s other trackers, such as the Leaf Chakra and Leaf Urban, priced at $89 and $99, respectively. However, when comparing the Ivy to other wellness wearables in the market, the pricing falls within the norm. The Oura Ring, for instance, is priced at $299, and some devices like Whoop also include additional membership fees. The Ivy’s optional Coach membership, priced at $9.99 per month with a six-month trial, aligns with the pricing models of similar devices.
The Ivy’s target audience is individuals seeking a wellness wearable that prioritizes privacy, style, and reproductive health without inundating them with excessive data or distractions. It appeals to those who value simplicity and prefer to minimize their interaction with technology while still reaping the benefits of wellness tracking. The Ivy is a suitable choice for users who find traditional fitness trackers and smartwatches overwhelming or detrimental to their focus and mental well-being. Its minimalist approach fosters a sense of freedom from technology, which resonates with those who desire a more natural and intuitive wellness experience. Furthermore, the Ivy caters to users who want recognition for their healthy choices without getting bogged down in exhaustive data analysis.
Bellabeat Ivy: Conclusion
In conclusion, the Bellabeat Ivy stands out among the plethora of wellness wearables “For Women” as a product that transcends mere marketing gimmicks. While not without flaws, it manages to deliver a refined and elegant experience, focusing on holistic wellness without overwhelming users with excessive data or distractions. The Ivy’s emphasis on mental health and reproductive wellness makes it a valuable option for users seeking a wellness wearable that aligns with their individual needs. As the wearable industry continues to evolve, it is essential that companies like Bellabeat continue to push for inclusive and thoughtful design, ultimately fostering an environment where terms like “women-first” marketing become obsolete. Until then, products like the Ivy provide a much-needed stepping stone towards creating wellness wearables that genuinely serve all individuals, regardless of gender.