These days when it comes to connected fitness devices, what a device is capable of doing is less of a differentiator from how a device looks and how it engages its user. That's why the unveiling of the Nike+ Fuel Band device this past week was less of a technological breakthrough for fitness devices, and more of a breakthrough in fitness device design.
At first blush, based on form alone, it sure looks like Nike has set itself apart from the pack.
The device's name, Nike+ Fuel Band, comes from the virtual health currency, or the composite score, that the device tracks: Nike Fuel.
Nike launched the device at a media event hosted by talk show host Jimmy Fallon and guests including professional cyclist Lance Armstrong, professional basketball player Kevin Durant, and professional sprinter Carmelita Jeter. Nike is marketing the device with the slogan: "Life is a Sport." While the Nike+ Fuel Band demo video claims the device is designed for use by anyone, the initial launch and other marketing materials show Nike isn't shying away from marketing the device to the fitness-inclined and sports-minded.
At the event Nike executives announced that total Nike+ users now number more than 5 million.
The Nike+ Fuel Band leverages just two sensors: the standard 3 axis accelerometer, which monitors activity, and an ambient light sensor that detects light levels in the user's environment and automatically adjusts the brightness of the device's display accordingly. The device's display is made up of 100 white LED lights that show the time, Nike Fuel earned, calories burned, and steps taken. The wrist-worn device only has one button. When pushed it scrolls through the various metrics the device tracks. Holding the button down brings up advance features, like Airplane Mode. The side of the device has 20 colored LED lights (green, yellow, red) that give users a quick reference point for current performance levels.
Users can transmit the data from the device to an iPhone running iOS 4 or 5 via Bluetooth or through a USB cable that plugs into the user's PC. Nike says the device will stay charged for up four days. Nike+ Fuel Band only weighs about 1 oz.
The companion app for the Nike+ Fuel Band, which should become available in late February, enables users to compete with themselves and share results with friends to compete and celebrate, according to Nike's site. The app also includes a simple mood tracking feature. Of course, the app also includes charts and graphs that display data for the past week or past month. The app also tracks the number of days a user hits their daily goal and encourages users to keep it up once they get on a "streak" or hit bigger goals to be "on fire."
More over at the Nike+ Fuel Band here.