After countless hours of deliberation and eBay searches I finally found someone who was heading to the US of A to get me a Nike Fuelband. For those that have never heard of the device it’s basically an expensive pedometer. The less derisive explanation it that it’s a bracelet that measures your movement and steps and converts them into “Nike Fuel”, a totally made up but brilliant metric.
The actual hardware is an extremely attractive black rubber coated band that sits on your wrist. The actual display is a whole bunch (20 lights to track your progress and 100 white LED lights to show your fuel and the time) of LED’s that show through the rubber material. It’s a fairly subtle looking device and when not in use the LED’s can’t be seen making it totally unobtrusive. The Fuelband comes in three sizes, women (small), men (medium) and fatty (large). In the box you’ll find two spacers allowing you to add extra length to the Fuelband if you’re finding it too tight.
We’re not talking Apple product quality here but it’s a great looking and feeling device.
The best part of the Fuelband is that day to day you don’t actually have to do anything. Slip it on your wrist and you’re good to go. Push the single button on the device and you get shown your Nike Fuel for the day. Push the button again and you get to see the time. You can also have the device show you your calories and steps however I have turned this off to use the Fuelband as a watch. The battery last around two days when you’re not syncing it every hour and charges within an hour. Again, it’s a subtle device that doesn’t require you to read a manual or get a PHD to check the time.
The Fuelband synchronises with Nike Connect, a web portal that tracks your fuel and allows you to connect with Facebook so you can compare and compete with your other Fuelband equipped friends. You can also add friends on Nike Connect if you don’t happen to have many Facebook friends. There is also an iPhone only app (a fact that is fairly ridiculous considering how big Android is) which allows you to sync your Fuelband wirelessly via Bluetooth. The app allows you to do pretty much everything the website does without the funky graphs however in my experience the Nike Connect web portal is pretty buggy and I’ve been trying to move from Miles to Kilometers with no success for five days now. The app is excellent and the best way to sync and share your success. You can set your daily fuel goal (the default is 2000) through either the app or website although there is no way to change this goal during the day so once you’ve committed to a goal you better stick with it.
The Nike Fuelband is essentially a gimmick but the interesting observation I’ve had is that using the Fuelband tends to change your mindset towards activity. For someone like myself who sits on the computer working almost every day the Fuelband is a way to make me get up and go for a walk. The last two nights I’ve been close to reaching my daily goal, resulting in me getting up and taking the dog for a walk when I previously wouldn’t have. It’s this small motivation that makes an otherwise fashionable toy into a must have.