It looks like Nike+ is jumping on the Jawbone UP/Fitbit bandwagon and releasing its own version of an all-day fitness tracking device. This morning, Nike+ announced the Nike+ Fuelband, a device meant to be worn on the wrist that uses an accelerometer to track the user’s daily calorie burn, steps taken, time active, and NikeFuel earned. NikeFuel is a new metric created for this device that normalizes a user’s weight, age, and sex, so that different users will receive the same score for doing the same activity (e.g. running 30 minutes at a 10 min/mile pace), regardless of their physical makeup. This is unlike calorie expenditure, which is incredibly variable based on age, sex, and weight. The NikeFuel metric would be especially useful for someone trying to compare the effectiveness of different types of workouts. A runner, could, for example, compare their NikeFuel earned by going for a run, to their friend’s NikeFuel earned from playing basketball to see how the two activities stack up. It could also lead to some fun competition if you happened to have multiple friends using the device!
To use the band, the wearer sets a NikeFuel goal that they want to “earn” each day. The Nike+ Fuelband then utilizes a series of 20 LED lights along the band, varying from red to green, to indicate how close the user is to completing his or her NikeFuel goal for the day. The user’s data can also be viewed on the LED screen present on the device. It appears that the device has a button similar to the Fitbit that, when pressed, allows the user to scan through each available metric. The data is sent via Bluetooth to a free iPhone app, or can be uploaded to the Nike+ website using a USB connection to the user’s computer (compatible with both Mac & Windows). Presumably the USB plug-in will also be the method used to charge the device. The device will be available for pre-order in limited quantities starting at 5 PM EST today (January 19, 2012) at the Nike Store and will cost $149.
While I’m happy to see more companies creating devices that encourage people to be more active during the day, I am rather skeptical about the Nike+ Fuelband. First, the price tag is $50 more than both of it’s closest competitors, the Jawbone UP and the Fitbit Ultra, and for your $50, you get less, not more! Unlike both of its counterparts, the Nike+ Fuelband does not track sleep, and, unlike the Fitbit Ultra, it does not track flights of stairs. Second, Steven and I both noted that the Jawbone UP was incredibly inaccurate because of it’s placement on the wrist (e.g., hundreds of steps being recorded while driving the car). Hopefully, Nike+ has found a way to perhaps decrease the sensitivity of the accelerometer to account for this. Finally, the device does seem to be rather bulky, even relative to the Jawbone UP, which I felt was bulky on my small wrists to begin with. It also does not attempt to make up for its size with style, as with the Basis Band, so it might not be appropriate for those in an office setting. For that reason alone, I think I would prefer my Fitbit Ultra any day!
What do you think of Nike’s first attempt at all-day fitness tracking? If you plan on pre-ordering one, let us know what you think of it!
Meagan is a geochemistry research lab manager, runner, Netflix binge-watcher, and Mom to a rescue dog, a bunny, and a human child. She started running in May 2011 and ran her first half marathon in October 2012, followed by her first marathon in October 2013. In July 2018, she joined the triathlon world and completed an Olympic-distance race. After an extended break (pregnancy/maternity leave), she is making a long-overdue return to running and is preparing for a high-elevation half marathon at Crater Lake National Park in August 2020.