As the digital revolution disrupts health and fitness the 58 year old Nike Inc is reacting to it positively. In recent times Nike has released a range of innovative technology products designed to help sports enthusiasts improve their game. Starting with the partnership with Apple in 2006 along with the introduction of the Nike+ GPS app in 2010 which tracks a range of variables over GPS as a user runs.
Recently Nike has the launched the Nike+ Fuelband, a wrist device which appears to be aimed more towards people who don’t necessarily play sports but want to improve their activity throughout the day. It’s easy to see why too.
The Fuelband is a good looking and non-obtrusive piece of kit which fits around a user’s wrist and tracks steps, calories burned and Nike’s own Fuel measure. Fuel is is a daily activity measure devised by Nike which combines steps along with calories burned, while factoring age, weight, height and gender. Fuel does have its critics, however, as some believe Nike is trying to take a wall-gardened approach to its data.
At first glance the Fuelband looks like one of those rubber charity bands which were made popular by in the early part of the century developed by the likes of Nike and the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Press the button however and it’s where it comes alive with the very aesthetically pleasing LED display.
Holding the button down for a few seconds will start the Fuelband syncing with the app (provided you’ve downloaded it to your smartphone) via Bluetooth where you can view your stats including steps, calories, Fuel and distance walked. Included is the ability to make notes on each day along with scoring yourself using the emoticon feature. The app also allows you to see previous days’ stats so you can compare and, as expected, it allows you to connect via Facebook to compete with your friends.
In terms of accuracy of the Nike+ Fuelband we tested the step count alongside an (already tested for accuracy) Omron pedometer and the results were interesting. According to the Fuelband the total number of steps was over 2,000 more than what the Omron tracked which is roughly one mile difference. Given our previous testing we are more inclined to assume that the Omron’s data is more accurate.
The Nike+ Fuelband is a slick and innovative product most certainly aimed at those who don’t have time to take planned exercise but want to track their daily activity with little fuss. Once the Fuelband is on the wrist a user can, if they wish, forget about it until he or she goes to bed which is great for people with busy lives, which probably accounts for the majority of us. If you’re serious or indeed semi-series about fitness tracking the Fuelband probably isn’t for you.
The accuracy of the Fuelband’s data is questionable too. We only tested step accuracy and can’t verify if the calorie data is correct which will be a concern to those who track calories out and/or indeed calories in to maintain weight and optimal performance. To some people this may not be a concern as the data given in the Fuelband may act only as a benchmark for tracking. If this is the case accuracy isn’t that important provided the data is consistent.
All-in-all, the Nike+ Fuelband is a good device which will no doubt improve as time goes by and as Nike ramps up the technology and features. Nike is committed to using tech to enhance sports performance and output so no doubt we’ll see some new and improved features to the Fuelband in the future which might entice the more competitive sports people among us to use it.