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!

Morning run (08 Jul 11): Nike+

Good morning crew…
Happy Friday to all. It’s been a minute since I blogged about running, much less blogged at all, but since I have a few minutes this morning before I head into the office, why not.

If you’ve been noticing my FB page updates, I’ve been having my run stats posted there. I fell off the wagon last summer (right at vacation time) from running for the first time with the Nike+ system. Running is a great form of cardio, but frankly, I’ve NEVER liked running. It’s the techie in me that made running interesting, because with Nike+, I can track my personal performance metrics using a device I’ve grown to love since the first ones came out – the iPod. Running with music is great, the Nike+ website leverages superb marketing and offers a great deal of interactivity, not just with the site but fellow runners, known and unknown.

Most of my runs have been on a treadmill, but as much as I hate road runs, it’s not only the most popular form of running, but I’ll be doing it more and more to sever the reliance on treadmill running. The training of outdoor runs, for me, is tough now, but the gains I’ll achieve will keep my mindset looking forward to them. Combined with an improved diet, free weights and circuit machine workouts, I like what the combination is offering. Today’s run was not bad, the weather was perfect and I learned about pace. Time permitting, I may run at the gym today at lunch or after work, I’ll see. The good thing is I got my run in for the day either way. As for inspiration, this five year old commercial does it for me…this is where I am (at least) trying to get to:

Have a great day…

peace,
Doug

11th run – Nike+

Evening crew.

Had a really good run during lunch. Everything about it from the mental prep through the end of it was good. The gym was packed with an exercise class right in front of me – maybe that added a lil energy to me as well.

The anomaly was me somehow during off the female feedback voice (or so I thought I did – checking the iPod now shows it as on) I didn’t hear her during the whole run, which resulted in a longer, but best workout length so far.

After work, my kids persuaded me to head out to the track so they could jog, so I guess I can add that on as post-run activity. I also met my first goal!

Here are today’s run stats. Ran 1.49 mi on 8/10/2010 at 12:14 PM

Answering my friend’s tweet, I’ll sleep good tonite!

peace,
F!

10th Run – Nike+

Greetings…

Back from my run. This time it was on a different terrain – the track. Today I saw how much different running outdoors (again) is than running in a more controlled environment. This one was not one of my better runs (could it have been the nap beforehand?). I’ll attribute the less than desirable performance to the terrain – I had to walk part of it, as opposed to the steady non-stop runs I do indoors. This tells me I have to run outdoors more. I think it’s time I look into Nike+ Coach. Let’s go! This is where I’m trying to get to:

On another note…this was a family event. Wife and kids came this time. Son had a good share of running, while the ladies near power-walked. Great temps – low 70’s. More people were on the tennis courts than on the track, although by 8:15pm, people were still coming. I’ll miss daylight savings time.

Todays run stats: Ran 1.02 mi on 8/7/2010 at 7:50 PM

peace!
F!

8th Run – Nike+

Hey Crew…

I trust all is well with you. I got in not too long ago from the track, where my kids decided they wanted to go for a run. It was my daughter’s first time and she did well. We jogged two laps and walked two. As expected (at 8:10pm) there were a good amount of runners and walkers at the track, per the cooler temps.

After a few days off, I finally got back to my regular lunch time run schedule. Today was another personal best (as notified by Tiger Woods in my headphones after I completed the workout). It’s really convenient to have a gym in the building, as lunchtime is the perfect time to run for me during the week. Run stats are below, along with a description of my run.

My daughter has a new iPod Touch, which comes with the Nike+ app preloaded. If she gets into running, all I need to do is get her the sensor and maybe even the shoes…or neither…go for the wristband. Looking for a cheap iPod Nano for my son, as he is sensor all the way. He gets a kick out of the Nike+ minis (think Wii Miis) on the website…go figure.

Today’s run. Ran 1.12 mi on 8/4/2010 at 12:21 PM

Until next time…peace!

F!

5th Run – Nike+

Greetings crew:

I hope this post finds you well. Today was the first indoor run using the Nike Plus system. As you already know, I am definitely into it. It was a lunch time run in our corporate gym on the first floor. Turns out that I may be doing a great deal of running here for many reasons (especially during the winter). The run was good, breathing pace was the best yet and it also turned out to be my best mile time to date. Running on a treadmill proved to be the easiest thus far, with running on a track being a very close second. As I get seasoned, I hope enjoy running along various city and landscapes, but right now the terrain is less than desirable.

One of my regular readers, Rezzy asked me, in the previous post, what’s my playlist is. Take a look here. What’s the Power Song? “Housequake” – Prince/Sign Of The Times

Anyway, here are the stats from today’s run. Already looking forward to tomorrow’s “power lunch”.

peace,
F!

4th Run – Nike+

Greetings….

Just got in not too long ago from run #4. It’s been a crazy busy weekend and I would have much preferred to run early this morning, but that wasn’t possible at all. That being said, I had to wait until late this evening because of this crazy heat. Lately, my eight year old son has taken up an interest in running since I started, and especially having an understanding how Nike Plus works. He’s always asking for “sensor shoes” and I always gotta tell him they’re not made in his size….yet. Anyway, he begged to go along this time, so we both headed over to PGCC’s track. I knew that it didn’t make sense to log this workout data, figuring I wouldn’t get a consistent run in.

We got there and I took him through a stretching routine then we started the jog. I was pleasantly surprised for two things: 1) We did a whole lap non-stop and 2) Running at his pace told me MAYBE I should slow my pace to his on my regular runs!

We completed lap #1 and walked a cool down lap for the second one. Lap #3 was a job again…all the way through…I’mproud ;-). Lap #4, the final lap was a cooldown walk, followed by stretching. Big surprise was a 5th lap…wow, at his request. It was fun, and in hindsight, I might have done my best time in the mile yet…something I didn’t expect this evening. Too bad I didn’t log this data on the iPod! Oh well.

The plan is to hit the track at 6am tomorrow, but the morning rush to work. Which means off to bed within the hour. Have a good night.

1st Run – Nike+ iPod (Nike Plus)

Greetings readers…

I hope this post finds you well. Some of you that have known me for years also know that I regularly try to exercise and have been working out more on than off since college. For those that regularly exercise, often times it can take just *one* break to get you to fall off the fitness wagon for a good long time. I suffered such a break and have been off the wagon for about TWO YEARS (thank goodness for muscle memory and a decent knowledge of a good diet), luckily during that two years, people still have occasionally asked me if I work out, so that’s a good thing.

In the same vein, some of you know I’m a techie and a mild gadget guy. Being such, one of the gadgets I own and enjoy is a 2nd generation iPod Touch. Late last year when I graduated up from a failing 1st generation one, I noticed it came loaded with the Nike Plus app. I knew of the Nike Plus system primarily as an app to track runs. There are many other free and paid fitness apps at the iTunes store, a few that I tried, but I paid no attention to the Nike Plus app.

Unsatisfied with being off the wagon for so long, I recently took another look at the Nike Plus app and then went to the website to see how this thing really works. I first found out that the sensor in the sports kit transmits data from your work to your iPod at 2.4 GHz…that immediately interested the techie in me (wireless transmission anything gets me, and as an engineer, I’ve worked for years in fields that use it). Now that I became more interested in it, the biggest thing I wasn’t interested in was……running. I never really cared for it and REALLY had my share of it while pledging a fraternity (Alpha Phi Alpha) in undergrad. During those 12 weeks I had to run just about everywhere I went…in combat boots…class to class, class to the dining hall, dining hall to my dorm, my dorm to class…you get the picture.

Consequently, from a fitness popularity standpoint, all I saw around me regularly, were runners. Since I let my World Gym monthly membership go, I wanted to adopt another form of exercise that would get me in shape and keep me that way. After some thought, running seemed to be the best. I went back to Nike’s site, and became wowed not only by their marketing of Nike Plus (this IS Nike, right?) but the resources that it offers to new and season runners alike. Still loving this whole tech + fitness combination, I became even MORE interested.

Nike (unsurprisingly) makes special shoes that house the sensor which sends the data to your iPod Nano or 2nd Generation iPod Touch. The most popular shoes in the Nike Plus line are in excess of $80….I have NEVER paid $80 for a pair of sneakers in my life and wasn’t about to. Even the New Balance and Nike crosstrainers I’ve had over the years didn’t exceed that price. So…of course, I hop on the net to find out other ways of using this sensor on non-Nike Plus shoes. Unsurprisingly, I found hacks, mods, and actual products that allow you to use the sensor with other shoes…hence saving you money if already have running shoes OR don’t prefer Nike shoes for whatever reason (I’ll provide some links below). Along with some Google search results, I decided to hop to my fave place for info, Twitter, to get some feedback on those in my stream that run and post their results to various places on the web. I got feedback by those who use the Nike Plus shoes and those who don’t…a perfect sample size to help me decided which way I want to go. Primarily, I didn’t want to spend that amount of money on a pair of running shoes, but as I gave it more thought, I realized that I’ll be running and should get a pair of shoes designed for that, as opposed to any sneaker. Still seeing some ASICS, NB, Sauconys, Nike and others in excess of $125, I was like…whew. After my three hours of article reading, Twitter feedback, and Nike Plus related videos on YouTube, I decided that as an engineer, I thrive on accuracy. I found that mounting the sensor in the sole of the shoe (as opposed to in the tongue/laces area), would provide the most accurate data results….I couldn’t let go of the need for accuracy LOL (it’s ingrained in my from professional training and being a techie, what can I say?) It was this post that made me decide to get a pair of Nike Plus running shoes (instead of cutting a hole in the current (but old) NB crosstrainers I own (wifey was shocked to see me with a new pair of sneakers on top of that …LOL). That being said, I chose, at $63, the Nike Air Alaris+ (I feel I got the best of both worlds…the tech, and a good shoe at a decent price – think I’ll hit Sports Authority for a second pair):

Fast forward to day one of the run (today). After reading up on how to set up the sensor with iPod Touch, I was psyched to do my first run this morning. The only issue I had was though the sensor was linked to the iPod, when I was prompted to calibrate it by walking around, the iPod Touch couldn’t find the sensor. After a few times last night, I gave up and decided to try in the morning.

I arise at 5:30am, get dressed, grab some juice and a cup of apple sauce and head out. I open the garage door and………….rain….ugh! After watching it for a bit and seeing it let up, I decided to take a first time drive to the nearby community college that has the track that I’ll run on. I stay in the garage and try to calibrate the sensor, but still no luck. The rain let up on my side of town, so I drove out the track and tried once more to calibrate the sensor with the iPod…no luck! Still being excited about the run, the tech, the whole thing. I warm up by walking a few laps. At 7am, in light rain, there were already one runner and another walker. Within 30 mins, another runner and 3 more walkers arrive. After finishing lap 4, I was a bit disappointed that the iPod Touch still couldn’t find the sensor. I knew that it wasn’t necessary to calibrate it but I’m a fiend for accuracy. Being that this was the first time I ever ran for fitness, I stretched, and did one (yes one) lap only. Halfway through the lap, it started raining heavier, but the temperature didn’t make the rain feel that bad. I finish the lap and head home. Soaking wet and still no data to post online, I get home, dry off and hop in the shower.

After the shower and breakfast with my son (who was a lil ticked I didn’t take him with me at 6:30am), I decided to engage in my usual problem solving activity – hit Google search to see if anyone else has had this problem. Sure enough I found good amount of folk that experienced the same. It turns out that the sensor can be put to sleep by holding a small button on the bottom of it for three seconds. Though the sensor, as I understand, is supposed to come in the package awake (ready to use), I suspect mine was sent asleep. I read the guide again (finding nothing about having to wake it upon first use), as well as a few posts online, then flipped the sensor over, pressed the button, placed it back in the shoe, followed the instructions from the iPod Touch, walked around a bit and ….voila…received a sensor found message on the iPod Touch 🙂 Now, I’m definitely happy. I run back up stairs thinking I can do a run around the neighborhood, open the garage and…..rain!. Oh well.

As you can guess, I’m looking forward to my next opportunity for a run AND to be able to post my results on line. I’m excited about joining the Nike Plus running community.

Special shout outs to my Twitterati for the input and advice:

@daniellericks
@bevjack
@fave and Mrs Fave
and my new online running coach (haha..THX!) @FITTorrent

I’m exciting, and hope to keep it alive. Here’s a few links for anyone interested.

Nike Running (Nike+)
Nike + iPod FAQ (Technical)
100 Beginner Running Tips (CompleteRunning.com)
How To Start Running Without Feeling Like A Failure
Hacking Nike Plus, Part 1Creating Your Own Nike Plus Sensor holder in any running shoe sole
Nike Plus Sensor Mod (YouTube)
Tweet Your Run Data
Nike Plus on Twitter

Thanks for the long read! Catch up with u later!

peace,
F!