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This article was published on March 9, 2012

The Next Web goes hands-on with the new Nike+ FuelBand

The Next Web goes hands-on with the new Nike+ FuelBand
Paul Sawers
Story by

Paul Sawers

Paul Sawers was a reporter with The Next Web in various roles from May 2011 to November 2014. Follow Paul on Twitter: @psawers or check h Paul Sawers was a reporter with The Next Web in various roles from May 2011 to November 2014. Follow Paul on Twitter: @psawers or check him out on Google+.

Nike announced its new FuelBand technology back in January, an extension to its existing, uber-popular Nike+ mobile app.

The Nike+ FuelBand, in a nutshell, is a wristband that tracks and measures every movement you make. It’s also Nike’s attempt to expand its reach beyond the serious runners and keep-fit freaks, and into the realm of everyday activities.

It has even invented a new metric called NikeFuel which, used in conjunction with the FuelBand, will measure everything you do in a day and tell you how active you are.

The FuelBand has been available, to some extent, in the US for around two months now and will be rolling out in the UK from early April. However, it will only be available at first in its swish new ‘pop-up’ FuelStation store in London’s Shoreditch area, before being rolled out elsewhere in the UK from early May.

The idea is that you set yourself a target for the day – 2,000 seems to be the standard NikeFuel figure for those going about a normal day. If you’re planning on playing football or going out for a run, then over time you’ll learn what sort of NikeFuel figures are best for you and you can increase your target accordingly.

The band also gives you standard measurements, such as calories burned and number of steps, but Nike’s move towards branding its own fitness metric, and creating a more all-encompassing approach, should see it appeal to a much larger userbase. And we’re told that an Android Nike+ app will at last be hitting the market this summer some time, which will be huge for the service, given that’s pretty much half the smartphone-owning public.

I was able to give the bracelet a brief trial run earlier this week, and I was able to bust through close to 2,000 NikeFuel points in a few hours – thanks to a tennis workout and a cocktail-making session.

Here’s how it works. You slip the FuelBand on your wrist, and sync it up with the Nike+ FuelBand app over bluetooth. Of course, you also have to set up an online account for yourself first, outlining your age, height, weight and other key details.

The FuelBand displays a series of 20 LED lights that go from red-to-green as the user gets closer to their goal. The FuelBand can sync with the Nike+ website through a built-in USB, or wirelessly through Bluetooth to the iPhone app, to record and track progress every day.

Whenever you like, you can hit the ‘sync’ button on the bracelet, and it will update the data directly to your iPhone. A full charge should be enough to power the bracelet for a few days.

Whilst making Mojitos and Whisky Sours for an hour was fun (I didn’t drink them all, promise…), this activity was obviously designed with the non-athlete in mind and is as much where Nike is trying to position itself with the technology as it is more serious athletes.

NikeFuel provides a sort of ‘scoreboard’ for your day, and it’s easy to see how this could catch on in, say, an office environment. It could work quite well as a corporate get-fit incentive scheme (funded by the company, of course), where staff challenge each other to hit daily NikeFuel milestones. At £139, however, this won’t appeal to everyone – if you’re already using the Nike+ app with your iPhone, or other fitness apps such as Runkeeper, you may be perfectly happy as you are.

Also, I’m not entirely convinced that the NikeFuel metric will take off, but if Nike was to achieve this, it could go some way towards branding fitness itself. It’s certainly a bold and interesting move.

The FuelBand is cool – it’s very inconspicuous and just looks like a normal black band until you hit the one button on the front which shows you your NikeFuel count for the day, and then you can hit it again to get the other built-in metrics such as calories and steps.

Here’s the official promo video:

Meanwhile, check out our piece on Nike’s new FuelStation store in London, for digitally-enabled athletes. Or read our feature from last year on the future of health and fitness.

Nike+ FuelBand app