The genius behind the Nike FuelBand and why it works for me

The Nike FuelBand

A little over a week ago Kyle and I were invited by Nike to experience the brand new Nike+ FuelBand. The experience was pretty insane, as we were bussed over to the Paramount Studio lot and given a night of parkour, stunt falls and choreographed dancing from Michael Jackson’s choreographer. You can read all about that experience over on Los Angeles, I’m Yours.

Since then I’ve been wearing the FuelBand every day, testing it and seeing if I liked it or not. To be totally clear, I don’t owe Nike anything, and I wasn’t paid. If you’re unfamiliar with the what the FuelBand is, here’s Nike’s description of it.

Nike+ FuelBand tracks your activity through a sport-tested accelerometer, then translates every move into NikeFuel. Nike+ FuelBand tracks running, walking, dancing, basketball – and dozens of everyday activities.

The FuelBand has joined the class of lifestyle workout products along the lines of Jawbone’s UP and Fitbit. The idea is that these devices track your life, and help you live better. But there’s a huge distinction between the UP/Fitbit and the Nike FuelBand, and that’s accuracy. The Fitbit tracks your steps, your calories, the amount of time you sleep, and the UP does roughly the same thing. The FuelBand though tracks your movement, but the accuracy doesn’t really matter. What Nike has done is turn staying fit into a game.

There’s a term that some of you may know, it’s gamification. Wikipedia describes it as:

Gamification is the use of game design techniques and mechanics to enhance non-games. Typically gamification applies to non-game applications and processes (also known as “funware”), in order to encourage people to adopt them, or to influence how they are used. Gamification works by making technology more engaging, by encouraging users to engage in desired behaviors, by showing a path to mastery and autonomy, and by taking advantage of humans’ psychological predisposition to engage in gaming.

Gamification is all around us these days, whether you realize it or not. The exact definition varies to some people, but apps like Foursquare employ gamification in order to get you to keep checking in, allowing you to become the mayor of a location, and thus becoming King of the HIll and better than your friends. The FuelBand employs the same concept, but instead of worrying about the exact details, how many steps you’ve travelled, how many calories you’ve burned, they translate that information into NikeFuel.

NikeFuel doesn’t really translate to anything that you’d normally measure. You set a daily goal, my personal goal is 2000 points, and try to beat it every day. After a week I’ve seen that I can get at least 2500 points a day, and that’s without working out. The idea is that once you’ve realized how many points you get in an average day, you increase you that number, thus trying to beat your high score. This increases day-to-day, and the next thing you now you’re out-cycling Lance Armstrong.

From a design perspective, it’s basically perfection. It’s a single beautiful piece of rubbery beauty with a series of 20 color LEDs to show your goal and 100 white LEDs to give you information. It also has a light sensor so it know how bright the display should be. The band is rather small, though I have had some people complain that its blackness doesn’t match their outfits. It’s also awesome because the snap that keeps it on your wrist is also a USB, which allows you to charge the band and sync your data. It’s sleek, it’s minimal, and if it doesn’t work for you, it’s a bad ass looking watch.

After a week of usage, I’d say it’s a pretty awesome product. Every day I look to see where my Fuel points are, always conscious that I need to try and meet my goal. After a week of being at 2000 I’m now going to up it to 2500, just to see what it takes to do that. Then continue upward, because the the fun of it. It’s not a pedometer, it can tell you how many calories you think you’ve burned, but I’m not sure on the accuracy. This is for people who want to push themselves, rather than worry about figuring out your caloric intake. Normal people who want to better themselves day-by-day.

As of right now the FuelBand is sold out everywhere, but you can go to the website and sign up for an email to notify you of when they’re back in stock.

March 14, 2012 / By