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FuelBand: Will Nike's 'futuristic' wristband make fitness cool?
The shoe company's new exercise bracelet turns working out into a stylishly competitive game. But will it convince people to get out and move?
 
The LED lights on the Nike FuelBand change from red to green as users accumulate active points and achieve personal fitness goals.
The LED lights on the Nike FuelBand change from red to green as users accumulate active points and achieve personal fitness goals.
Nike

Nike is out to reinvent personal fitness with its "futuristic" FuelBand bracelet, which turns your daily movements into a game. (See demo video below.) With a built-in tri-axis accelerometer that measures every motion in a three-dimensional space, the FuelBand is preprogrammed to not only recognize the type of activity you're doing — be it going for a run, shooting hoops, or playing tennis — but tabulates every move into what Nike calls "Fuel points," which allows you to set daily goals and compete online with friends. (For example: Ten jumping jacks earns you 10 Fuel points, while a moderate run nabs you 500, and so on.) At first glance it looks more like a Livestrong bracelet than a fitness watch, until hidden LEDs light up, changing from red to green as you inch closer to your goal. The FuelBand updates via BlueTooth with your iPhone or Android Nike+ App whenever you hit the "sync" button, and can go multiple days in between charges. Could Nike finally do the impossible and make working out cool for athletes and non-athletes alike?  

You'll love it: What makes the FuelBand so effective "is how deceptively fun it makes exercise," says Bryan Bishop at The Verge. Not only is it smart enough to guard against cheating (shaking your arm in place won't earn you many points), but it takes "tainted" fitness concepts (like calories and carbs) out of the equation entirely. Of course, hitting your daily goal triggers "a lot of glowing lights and glittery explosions," but gimmicky novelty isn't the real draw. The FuelBand excels by taking the dread out of working out and making it feel "fun and rewarding." My guess is consumers will "fall in love with the Fuel concept."  
"Nike+ FuelBand review"

But there are better options out there: It's a cool device. But "I'm underwhelmed by its functionality relative to other products in the wearable exercise monitor space," says Nathan Hurst at Wired. Not only is the $149 retail price "a little steep," but Nike already has more powerful watches on the market that do so much more, like GPS. Yes, the FuelBand is definitively a "conversation starter." But "bling factor aside," regular users will find themselves wanting more for the price tag.
"Hands-on: Nike+ FuelBand exercise monitor"

I can see this catching on: It's easy to see how the NikeFuel "scoreboard" could catch on in something like an office environment as a "corporate get-fit incentive scheme," says Paul Sawers at The Next Web. Yes, it won't appeal to everyone, and plenty of other fitness apps, such as Runkeeper, may be more than enough for fitness fiends. Still, you have to commend Nike for trying to brand "fitness itself." It's "certainly a bold and interesting move," and we'll see if consumers buy into it.
"The Next Web goes hands-on with the new Nike+ FuelBand"

 

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