I’ve got to hand it to Nike: when it comes to sleek products combined with slick marketing, not many other companies in the world can do it better. My perpetual fascination with technology coupled with my recent conversion in brand loyalty from Adidas to Nike led me to their latest gadget, the Nike+ FuelBand. I had just won my fantasy basketball league–for the second consecutive season–and rationalized such an uncalculated purchase.
The concept of the Nike+ FuelBand was simple: a wristband you wear all day that tracks your movement and gives you points for activity, thereby gamifying your activity level. The FuelBand is a matte black rubber wristband similar to those ubiquitous Livestrong bands that everyone had in the mid 2000s, except slightly thicker and heavier. It seems quite durable and was comfortable enough for me to wear that I’ve already forgotten about it after 2 days, but I’m used to wearing lots of crap on my wrists so your comfort may vary. Inside this wristband is a three-axis accelerometer that tracks the motion of your wrist in all directions, and a really cool LED display. The display is completely invisible when off, but with a push of the only button on the FuelBand, the display magically appears and relays the time, calories burned, steps taken, and NikeFuel.
What sets this device apart from being a glorified pedometer for middle-aged women is the concept of NikeFuel. Researchers at Nike have developed algorithms to translate the patterns of wrist movement to the intensity of your activity, quantified as NikeFuel. The amount of NikeFuel you receive is normalized to your height and weight, so essentially, NikeFuel levels the playing field for everyone of all shapes and sizes. Each day you set number of points as your goal for the next 24 hours. By Nike standards, a normal day sans workout would net you 2000 NikeFuel points, while an active day (1 hour workout) nets 3000 points. The calories burned and steps taken metrics feel like tacked-on afterthoughts though, as the real star of the show is the NikeFuel.