Farewell, FuelBand….it’s been a sheer pleasure.

Greetings all,
It’s Friday, 10:31PM EST to be exact, and I’m glad that the start of a long(er) weekend is here.

This post is about the end of a journey, a journey that began with the use of what became a fitness tracking device I became very fond of. While I won’t rehash all my feelings about it in this post, I’ll provide links to previous posts that you can read, should you be so inclined. The beginning of the end of the journey began on 20 April of this year. That is the day that Nike officially shutdown the Nike Plus website and pulled the Nike+ Connect app as well as the iOS NikeFuel and Moves App from the app store. The API was no longer available for quite sometime and the Nike Fuel Developer Site was also shut down. What this meant for users of the Fuel Band, Nike GPS Watch, and a number of other legacy Nike fitness tracking devices was that they were no longer able to sync their data or change any current user profile data to the Nike website. This also meant that once the device’s memory was full, it would essentially become useless. The day the announcement went up on Nike’s site, there was mixed emotions around the interwebs. Those emotions pretty much centered around two camps: 1) I haven’t used mine in YEARS/It broke, and 2) Being pretty much upset that Nike discontinued all support (even though they stopped selling it new years ago). With bearing much repeating, Nike and Apple eventually agreed to integrated NikeFuel into the four OS apps – Nike Fuel, Moves, Nike Run Club (NRC) , Nike Training Club (NTC). With April 30th arriving, Nike Fuel and Moves got the boot from the app store. Along with that, the Nike Training App ceased to generate NikeFuel points from their workouts (which I was not happy with – especially going back with the dolts at Nike Support who took about four Twitter messages to finally answer my question “Will the NTC app continue to track NikeFuel points because you didn’t make that clear in your website announcement).

That said, I was only able to track NikeFuel points via the NRC app…the issue there is…I’m not a regular runner, so that wasn’t going to me any good in tracking on a daily basis. As you’ll see from the previous posts below, I had already cobbled some math together that would allow me to “estimate” NikeFuel points derived from Apple Watch calories so this was going to be my way of tracking Fuel points once the Fuel Band ceased to work. I wore the Apple Watch and the Fuel together from 1 May to tonight (it’s still on my wrist). Since then, I became an admin in the Apple Watch Fitness Fans Group on Facebook, and continually posted my stats and photos of the band in that group.

Since since the website and apps were no longer available, I had to now log my daily Fuel points manually. Since I have a wee bit of knowledge in using Excel, I developed a spreadsheet to enter the daily goals into. I also created a graph that was a mild facsimile of the one used on the Nike Plus site. In a notes column, I entered anytime I logged Fuel points by using the NRC app, along with any workout exercises that added to my daily points.

This has been going since 1 May. Graphical data for the past four months. My Fuel Band user buddy, Hope asked me why I won’t continued until the band’s data is maxed out. I decided to only track dated for whole months. The band is giving me the “Memory Low -Sync Now” warning, which means it can be filled up anyday now, so I’ve decided to call it quits tonight, the last day of the month. Here’s what the data looks like since May 1.


Monthly Avg.: 2265
Exceeded Goal by: 67.7%


Monthly Avg.: 2299
Exceeded Goal by: 76.7%


Monthly Avg.: 22384
Exceeded Goal by: 77.4%


Monthly Avg.: 2142
Exceeded Goal by: 58.1%

And the grand total Nike Fuel Points earned (23 Sep 17 through 31 Aug 2018): 641,206

I spent the last week of July in Jamaica, came back in August and slacked off – hence the lower stats. LOL. nike has stated in its Fuel Band FAQ the band can go for about 30 to 45 days (max) without before the memory fills up and needs to sync with the website to empty the memory I believe I was able to extend that time frame because as of May 1st, my daily goal was only at 2000 points and the highest goal I reached in the past four months a little over 4000 (as seen above).

Well, tomorrow starts tracking Fuel points via the Apple Watch. I was fortunate enough to connect with a Sr. Data Scientist at Nike who worked on the Fuel band, who was kind enough to vet my math and provide some comments and suggest corrections for the conversion to be as accurate as possible, considering difference in accelerometer technology between the Apple Watch and the Fuel band. For those interested (see my previous posts via the links below on how I got started with this), I use this simple formula to continue tracking NikeFuel points using the Apple Watch:

[AW calories x 3.84]/0.892]
.

In addition, I was able to connect with some other employees that worked on Fuel band development, I was told that Nike had some discussion about releasing the Nike+ Connect (desktop) app as open source, but later found out that it is not on their list of priorities. There have been a few people who were able to establish bluetooth low energy (BLE) connectivity with the band and log certain types of data. There’s a software engineer I connect with on Twitter who has been working on doing the same in his spare time but, again, that is low priority.

On a whim last night, I decided to do one last Google search on the band, this time via Behance’s website. Behance is a portal for creators of illustration, photographic, animation, and product design content. To my surprise, I came across the work of Valentin Dequidt and his “recent” concept idea for a Nike Fuel Watch. Totally fell in love with what I saw. Here are two graphics of it.

For the entire concept, click on the link below.

NikeFuel Watch Concept – Valentin Dequidt

Well that’s it. It is officially Sept 1 (12:09 am). Goodbye Fuel Band 🙂 There never was and will never be another fitness tracker that will take the approach to fitness/activity tracking the way you did. The advertising Nike put into it’s ecosystem was phenomenal.

Nike Fuel Band "The Inside Story" from New North Sound on Vimeo.

It was a long post I know. I appreciate you taking the time to read it!

peace!
Fresh!

References:
1. The NikeFuel Band SE in 2017: Band On The Run
2. Apple Watch calories to NikeFuel Points: An experiment
3. Nike Discontinues NikeFuel Legacy Devices and Software

Calories to NikeFuel Points – An Experiment

Greetings readers,

In my last (longgg) post, I discussed why I have, in 2017, begun using the NikeFuel Band. In all the research I’ve done, I wanted to determine (via some crude experiments), what many have tried before – How many calories burned make up 1 NikeFuel point?

As a recap, the Nike website says this:

“The NikeFuel algorithm was developed at the Nike Digital Sport Science Lab (DSSL), a state-of-the-art performance lab located at Nike WHQ in Portland, OR. The DSSL consists of a team of exercise physiologists and biochemists who are constantly working and reworking the science behind the NikeFuel algorithm. Their goal is not only to perfect the accuracy and consistency of the metric, but also to tune NikeFuel for the performance needs of different athletes.”

About four years ago, there were net postings saying the ratio was 2.79 cals to 1 NP (calculated via experiment by a runner) and “roughly 3 cals to 1 NP” (according to Nike). Since the algorithm was worked over time (says Nike), I decided to conduct some experiments on a normal day of movement (24 Aug 17) and exercising to see what results I’d end up with.

Experiment 1 – Morning Calisthenics
Since I workout every morning by at least do a short calisthenics set, I decided to note the NikeFuel points tracked vs the calories burned with the band and compare them to what the Apple Watch recorded. The following resulted in the amount of calories burned for each NikeFuel point:

Roughly, a 4-to-1 ratio.

Experiment 2 – Normal Daily Moves and Exercise
This time, I decided to take the same approach and apply it to a normal day of activity. Once again, note the results.

Finally, Experiment #3 – Core Training
It takes 30 minutes of exercise in Workout mode to close the exercise ring on the Apple Watch. Since the NikeFuel Band offers a capability called Sessions, I decided to start a session simultaneously with the Apple Watch and record the results as follows:

In all three experiments, with the exception of the outlier of 3.42 cals/NikeFuel point, the results consistently show roughly 4 cals to every one NikeFuel point, or a 4-to-1 ratio.

Crude experiments, yes…but consistent. It’s just something I was curious about, but honestly didn’t expect pretty stable results across the board.

Thanks again for the read….

Best,
Fresh!

Why the Nike FuelBand SE in 2017 – “Band on the run”

So, I’ve found the Apple Watch fitness capabilities a welcome and useful way to track my general fitness activities AND found the entire process it uses to motivate me, especially in the area of consistency. The apps that I use integrate perfectly with the Health app, I’ve had no issue with sharing my Activity data with others, and even with the current Watch OS 3.12, operating everything I need from the watch is a breeze (there a few things I’d like to see changed in future updates but they’re not fitness-related).

That said, it seems like it’s an all-in-one solution for my needs, as I stared using wearable technology to track my fitness data five years before the Apple Watch came along. Why, then, have I developed this fascination for using another unit that once had it’s heyday as a wearable fitness tracker, but met an untimely (some what say timely) death three years ago, one that many lambasted as inaccurate, lacking features that units in co-existence had at the time? Well, it’s simple, it offers and does a few things that the AW ecosystem doesn’t. This fitness tracker is the Nike Fuel Band. I’m going to talk about my personal likes about it and why I enjoy using it in concert with the AW, vice discussing it’s technical drawbacks as a unit and in comparison to where fitness tracking technology has evolved to.

I’m certain that all of you reading this blog post have, at least, heard of the Nike Fuel Band, and probably have an idea what Nike Fuel and the band is.

For those of you that don’t, the Nike website describes the concept of Nike Fuel as follows:

“Nike Fuel is whole integer number that represents your daily activity by calculating your calories burned along with your steps taken, while simultaneously factoring in your age, gender, weight and height. In short order, Nike Fuel is a calculation that allows everyone and anyone to compete regardless of their sex, age and any physical predispositions. Nike worked with some of the world’s top experts in science and sports to engineer NikeFuel algorithms based on oxygen kinetics. Unlike calorie counts — which vary based on someone’s gender and body type — NikeFuel is a normalized score that awards all participants equal scoring for the same activity regardless of their physical makeup. A user can also choose to also receive a calorie count to understand how many calories are burned versus how much NikeFuel is earned. The Nike+ FuelBand SE and first generation FuelBand track activity-based caloric burn (not resting metabolic caloric burn) using an algorithm (a series of mathematical models that link movement patterns to known energy requirements) based on the energy you expend when you move.

The NikeFuel algorithm was developed at the Nike Digital Sport Science Lab (DSSL), a state-of-the-art performance lab located at Nike WHQ in Portland, OR. The DSSL consists of a team of exercise physiologists and biochemists who are constantly working and reworking the science behind the NikeFuel algorithm. Their goal is not only to perfect the accuracy and consistency of the metric, but also to tune NikeFuel for the performance needs of different athletes (Nike says “If you have a body, you’re an athlete”). Our NikeFuel science team has an extensive amount of athlete V02 tests, each consisting of a series of 42 activities that include both lifestyle and traditional sport movements. Our data set grows exponentially every year, and our algorithms get short and more accurate every month.

In addition to the work we do in-house, the DSSL works directly with experts from across the academic and research industries to further perfect the algorithms.”

Popular Mechanics published a 2012 story regarding an inside look of the Nike DSSL, read it here.

The steps and calories are not an exact science but it is a pretty good gauge of how active you have been during the day. It takes into account the amount of movement in a given period of time so assigns a higher “point” value. It also does not take into account heart rate at all. What I like about the Fuel Band is it constitutes itself a motivational tool – you can compare your Fuel score with some celebrity athlete, or to everyday people in your age range, even you know they are more active or less active than you are.

Like many dedicated fitness trackers and mobile phones, motion is key to tracking fitness via use of accelerometers and other motion sensing technologies. Nike+ Fuelband is at its core an accelerometer; it counts the number of steps and calculates the estimated calories consumed. The FuelBand contains a timer, and by taking into account both distance and time, i.e. how vigorous is your motion, the NikeFuel score provides a measure of the aerobic and cardiovascular workout. In addition, Nike Fuel points do not depend on weight as a metric factor (unlike calculating calories burned) and so, again, the score can be directly compared between individuals.

A blog post from Quantified Health states “…Taken together, the Nike Fuel score probably correlates closely with the number of calories burned but it also contains a component that is orthogonal (distinct) to this count relating to the briskness of the exercise. It would be helpful if Nike could provide more information about its Fuel score and how it is calculated to enable a more accurate physiological interpretation.” That said, Nike’s formula for calculating Nike Fuel points is “proprietary”. I’ve read two web references where a runner conducted some experiments to determine that one Nike Fuel point is equal to 2.79 calories burned. You can read the entire post here. Another reference aligns with this in that a user contacted Nike and their reply was the ratio of of calories to Fuel points is “roughly 3-to-1” Yet another user compiled a month’s worth of data to try and determine this, you can read about that here. I’ve started conducting some experiments to see if my findings show. A reader commented to the Quantified Health blog post by saying: “What SHOULD have been used, both by Nike and here in your article discussing it, is how there Nike Fuel points are related to METs which are the universal measurement of activity and caloric expenditure. I suspect Nike Fuel is either based on or directly correlated to METs in some way.” Again, many have been interested in trying to crack the code of Nike’s proprietary formula.

Back to why I use the Fuel Band in a few short reasons:

1. Where Nike Fuel really works for me is as a personal motivation tool. At any point during the day, I can push the button on the band to see where I am in relation to my goal. I don’t need to pull out my cell phone to bring up the app (which obviously has much more functionality in a number of ways), because, for one, mobile phones are prohibited where I work, but the like the Apple Watch (also prohibited), the band is connect via Bluetooth to my phone, so as soon as it reconnects, I can see all the extra data via the app, data which is essentially synced to my Nike+ fitness account online. I’ve never been one to enjoy having a phone strapped to be to measure my physical activity when exercising or otherwise.

My first introduction to trophies (or achievements, as the Apple Watch world calls them), came via the use of Nike Fuel. For a list of all the trophies, go here. For a list of Nike and Nike + Fuel badges, you can view those here. I’ve gotten a number of achievements via use of the Apple Watch fitness tracking, but the Nike Fuel ones seem more…..exciting…for lack of a better word.

2) There’s a certain “cool/wow factor” with this band – the LED lights, the progression of color (red to green) as I reach my goal. it’s definitely an attention-getter if seen in public today. I like that, it’s simple and to the point. While the Apple Watch gives data (currently) on 58 types of exercise activity, Nike designed the band to track 88 different types. A lot, but not near the 200+ types the Polar fitness trackers are designed to measure.

3) It’s any inconspicuous wearable that gives me a different metric of my physical activity.

4) Nike, being the juggernaut of the company it is, got every aspect of advertising and social media dead on for me, everything about it is still attractive (even though the band itself and it’s social media activity is dead and discontinued)

In short, it’s convenient (no phone needed), simple (though the Fuel points concept is unlike most common fitness data tracking methods), it’s cool looking, provides the motivation I need, and they just got me with everything they put in to this now dead platform.

Yes, I have the NRC app on my phone and watch, as well as the NTC app on my phone – both generated Nike Fuel points when used to the Nike Fuel app, but for some odd (I guess) reasons, I like the physical and tactile aspect of wearing the band.

Nike did end up settling a lawsuit regarding misleading advertising about the accuracy of the fitness tracking of the band, resulting in refunding users $15 USD or a Nike gift card, if they purchased the band within a certain time period. They also eventually released their API to the public so developers could integrate the software into other applications.

Why did Nike can the development of the Fuel Band? In short, the company decided it eventually did not want to invest resources in a dedicated fitness tracker, but otherwise license and integrate that technology into mobile devices. At that time, the FitBits and Garmins of the world exceeded the features that the Fuel Band offered.

Well, there you have it. I did an Instragram hashtag search on #nikefuelband and was surprised to see how many people are still using it in 2017. I think that, in itself piqued my interest more, aside from the reasons given above.

Thanks for the read…

Peace…
Fresh!