A wearable activity tracker
In 2012, Nike introduced the Nike FuelBand – a wearable band that measures and displays people’s daily activity – in a virtual metric called NikeFuel – to inspire them to stay fit.
Journalist Jessica Stanley observed the need for such a device:
“Just Do It’ is one of the best positioning statements in the world, but customers started to change. Don’t just say it, help us.”
Targets ‘everyday athletes’
Nike targets the “everyday athlete” with the FuelBand, acknowledging that everyday activities contribute to overall well being, inspiring people to do more and giving people a way to measure the actual contribution.
FuelBand user mkloker commented:
“For an average Joe – I like it. It provides constant feedback and motivation… Before I got one, I never thought much about my activity level.”
The FuelBand also appeals to self-trackers, making it easy for people to measure their daily behavior and engaging them with visually beautiful displays and metrics.
As journalist Jenna Wortham mentioned in her review of the FuelBand:
“From the moment I wrapped the band around my wrist, I was enamored with the idea of a device that could help me collect data about my habits and behavior, so that I could try to improve them.”
Helps make sense of data
People can sync their bands with their smart phones and the Nike+ website to see the number of steps taken, calories burned and NikeFuel earned over time.
Alyson Shontel commented:
“The statistics are amazing. You can look at your activity by the hour, day, month or year.”
The app and website also double up as a social network, connecting people to their friends and also to members of the 7 million strong Nike+ community.
By taking into consideration factors such as age, gender, height, type of activity and amount of movement when calculating the NikeFuel, Nike gives people one single data point to look at while analyzing their own activity and their friends’ activity.
As Catherine de Lange commented:
“Because the fuel currency is universal too, it means you can link up and compare with friends.”
Or, as blogger Christen Costa put it:
“In short order, Nike Fuel is a calculation that allows everyone and anyone to compete regardless of their sex, age and any physical predispositions.”
Acts as a constant reminder
Ever present on the wrists of the owner, the FuelBand displays the amount of NikeFuel earned for the day, and motivates people to meet their daily goal.
FuelBand user Roger Cheng shared his experience:
“The color LEDs on the FuelBand serve as an extra crack of the whip: the lights move from red to green as you approach your daily goal, taunting you to keep moving until you hit your mark. When I was a few hundred points away from the goal, I spent the last hours of the night walking around my apartment to boost my score (your Fuel score resets to zero at midnight).”
Alyson Shontel wrote
“The mix of guilt and competition the FuelBand makes you feel pushes you to make healthier decisions.”
Gamification of fitness
The FuelBand makes fitness a game by presenting people with a daily challenge and rewarding them when they get closer to meeting their goal, and makes daily activities and chores fun.
Catherine de Lange commented:
“After using the bracelet for a couple of days, I found it strangely addictive. Just wearing the device compels you to take the stairs or walk, even clean the floor – all those things we know we should do but seem like a chore.”
Instant feedback – a powerful motivator
The constant monitoring of data also acts a powerful motivator. Users found that the instant feedback and a sense of progress helped bring about a change in their behavior and make them become more active.
Gaurav Mishra, VP of Insights, Innovation and Social Asia, MSLGROUP shared:
“I remember that the year I first bought a Nike+ shoe was the year I ran most regularly. The instant feedback and the sense of progress was almost addictive. Then, I lost the sensor, and lost my stride.
“I bought a NikeFuel band a few weeks back and I have seen my activity levels go up significantly since then.”
Alyson Shontel reflected:
“Realizing how inactive I was during certain hours has made me more active in my spare time.”
Does it do enough for $150?
While most agree the FuelBand is a great motivator, the FuelBand has its limitations and, for the price, people feel it should include GPS and a heart monitor and should be more accurate in measuring activity.
CNET editor Roger Cheng summarized the limitations of the FuelBand:
“The Nike Fuel score is worthless to anyone who doesn’t have a Nike+ product, and isn’t always accurate. There’s no way to measure distance for specific runs, so it isn’t useful for athletes or people who train regularly. At $149, it’s also pricey for what it does.”
Several people shared this view, especially since Omron pedometer’s come as cheap as $20, and FitBit’s popular activity tracker is priced at $100.
Others however, believe the FuelBand delivers on what it promises – it gets people moving. As FuelBand user CPC08 commented:
“The app is great. I would love it to be more accurate, but paying $150 for true motivation is well worth it to me.”
Part of the larger Nike fitness ecosystem
The Nike FuelBand is the latest addition to Nike’s suite of fitness products, which includes not only Nike’s apparel and shoe line but also tracking products such as the Nike+iPod shoe tracker, GPS watch and the Nike+ running app.
Journalist Jessica Stanley observed Nike’s domination of the fitness industry:
“So alongside products like shoes and apparel, they’ve built an entire ecosystem.”
Other personal data tracking products
As gadgets get smaller and smarter, self-tracking becomes easier. Indeed, we are noticing a trend of innovative tracking devices designed to help people change their behavior for the better.
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