menu

Piers Fawkes: Nike Thinks I’m The Athlete I’m Not

Piers Fawkes: Nike Thinks I’m The Athlete I’m Not
technology

The tracking accuracy on new Nike Fuel band is suspect and the brand's view of health is naive.

Piers Fawkes, PSFK
  • 24 february 2012

I was lucky enough to be presented with a free Nike Fuel earlier this week. The sporting apparel company had set up a huge exhibition in a warehouse on a pier in Manhattan that edged into the East River. A row of Nike employees helped me and, I guess, other ‘influencers’ set up their Fuel wristbands and set ourselves personal goals.

I got a medium band. It fit snuggly around my right wrist. It’s a kind of pedometer that uses an accelerometer to calculate steps taken, calories burned and ‘Nike Fuel’ points. It has a one button interface that allows the user to scroll through a glowing display. It also has a USB that allows the band to both charge and upload data to somewhere in the cloud.

Some readers may know that I’m curious about self-tracking and its impact on health. Last week, I wrote about my experience with The Eatery app which I used to photo-journal my diet during a week-long trip to London. So, I was interested in seeing how Nike Fuel could impact my health as well.

After a day wearing the device, however, I began to distrust the tracking accuracy and felt that the device lacked the complexity that we are beginning to expect when it comes to mobile technology and our health. I just expected more from a large corporation with deep pockets for investment.

With a goal of hitting a rigorous 3,000 Nike Fuel points, here’s how my day unfolded on Thursday:

6am – Morning starts with daily research. Nike Fuel points – 85

7am – Lego distraction with daughter Georgie. Nike Fuel points – 227. RSS has been hard work!

8am – Cy tries on the Nike Fuel band at breakfast. Crikey, he should have his clothes on by now. Nike Fuel points – 405. Must have been the oatmeal stirring.

9am – One’s off to school, the other is crying in the background of this conference call to Italy. Nike Fuel points – 660. Wonder how much energy I will burn speaking English loud and slowly for the next 45 minutes?

10am – Got to get to the office. Let’s see how many steps it takes to make the 25 minute walk. Steps already taken this morning: 1695. What? I’ve already paced around the apartment over fifteen hundred times? Maybe it was chasing all those little monkeys.

10.28am – Made it to the office just in time. Steps – 3936. That means I walked 2,241 steps for a 1.2 mile journey. I looked this stat up and it seemed like an average

10.30am – Conference call to London. Nike Fuel points: 1147. Speak less loudly.

12.pm – Early lunch with Stanley Lumax. Energy level – 1504. Already? That conference call must have been more frantic than I thought.

…And then I stopped checking until I got home…..

6.15pm – Home after subway ride. Kids bath. Energy level – 2611.

6.45pm – Story time. Kids get your pyjamas on already will you? Energy level – 2713. (Band removed during kids bath)

8pm – Unable to sync Nike Fuel with my iPhone via Bluetooth for the 20th time. Gave up.

10pm – Sneaked out to the bar. The ultimate test was about to begin. Nike Fuel points pre-pint: 3472

10.10pm – Proof about the positive effect of elbow-raising on personal fitness: Nike Fuel points post-pint: 3616

11.30pm – Home and time to sleep. Energy level – 4105. Smashed my goal on the first day….

So how did I do? Well, when I set it up with the Nike staffer I seem to remember that I was given a goal of 3,000 – which was supposed to be a pretty rigorous and energetic day. Sure, I took a 20 minute walk to work, but it was odd that a day of conference calls and distractions by kids (and three pints of IPA) put me well above my goal.

I was left feeling suspect about the quality of the tracking. The number of steps seemed appropriate when I walked but why did a pint of beer earn me 140 points? I also noticed that when I was in a taxi or on a subway ride the points went up too. I don’t think the technology is sophisticated enough to tell the difference between walking and driving on a bumpy New York City road, or between running and writing down notes on a pad.

There were also connectivity problems:  I was unable to sync the band to my phone via Bluetooth – and nothing seemed to fire up when I hooked the USB port to my computer. Really – do I have to go read the instructions?

And maybe the biggest take-away was that I found Nike’s view about health too simplistic. Nike Fuel is about movement but I know my health is connected with my diet and other variables like emotional well-being. I’ve checked out the specs online and there doesn’t seem to be any diet tracking. There seems to be a way to diarize an entry about a certain day somewhere in the cloud but what about collecting values of wellbeing on a chart?

There are so many sophisticated health tracking mobile tools available today and so the Nike Fuel seemed basic and naive. The Nike Fuel experience feels like what you got with a Fitbit device over 2 years ago. As it evolves, I think that the Nike Fuel mobile app will need to allow users to both photo-journal and statistically track ALL the other elements of health – otherwise it just becomes another pedometer.

With my diet tracking, I tried it for a week. I wore the band for a day. And now it’s off the wrist. Maybe the kids will find some joy in using it as a play thing….

 Nike Fuel

Trending

Machine Printer Uses Coffee Drips To Create Intricate Portraits

Arts & Culture
Technology december 2, 2016

Why Nest Doesn't Get The Holidays

PSFK founder reacts to the damaging effects of poor email marketing

Children december 2, 2016

Robots Could Be Joining Dubai’s Police Force In 2017

The real-life RoboCops can salute, shake hands and collect traffic fines

Trending

Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Retail 2017

See All
Travel december 2, 2016

Parka Hides And Charges Portable Devices

Bolt is a jacket that lets people carry and charge their various electronics without the need for an outlet

Related Expert

Elizabeth Pizzinato

Global Luxury Consumer and Digital Insight

Food december 2, 2016

Yelp's New 'Yelfie' Feature Lets Diners Take Selfies

The update is designed to encourage people to attach a selfie when they share their experiences

Design & Architecture december 2, 2016

Build Your Own Savory Cheese Advent Calendar

A British food blogger has created a guide to building a different kind of holiday surprise

Fitness & Sport december 2, 2016

Floating Gym Concept In Paris Is Powered By Your Workout

The proposed design from Carlo Ratti Associati lets passengers ride a stationary bike as they travel through Paris along the Seine River

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Retail 2017
Transformation Strategies For Customer-First Business
NEW

PSFK Op-Ed december 2, 2016

Customer Service Expert: Why Offline Retail Has Better Data Than Online Retail

Healey Cypher, Founder and CEO of Oak Labs, shares why we should be thinking about the physical store as an e-commerce site

PSFK Labs december 1, 2016

Retail Spotlight: Home Depot Reimagines How Employees Conduct Tasks

The home improvement retailer puts the customer first by initiating local fulfillment centers and simplifying freight-to-shelf inventory management

Syndicated december 2, 2016

What Does The Future Of Android Look Like In A World With The Pixel?

Google’s decision to make its own phone might have looked like a blow to the likes of Samsung but the reality is much more interesting

Fashion december 2, 2016

Alexander McQueen Designs A 3D-Printed Umbrella

3D-printed fashion arrives in time for the winter season

Work december 2, 2016

Why Training Associates To Be Advocates Is Key To Retail Success

In our Future of Retail 2017 report, PSFK Labs discusses strategies to prioritize customer service, which begins with associate advocates

Media & Publishing december 2, 2016

Netflix Creates Binge Candle To Celebrate A New Season Of Gilmore Girls

The streaming service developed a special layered candle that creates candle with episode-specific smells

Arts & Culture december 2, 2016

Interactive Film Tells A Story About Living With Cancer

A moving song written by a father of a cancer patient comes alive in a 3D environment

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders
NEW

Automotive december 2, 2016

Audi And LEGO Exhibit Autonomous Vehicle Installation

The installation at Design Miami explores the 25th hour, which represents bonus productive work or play time

Gaming & Play december 2, 2016

This Game Lets You Be A Pilot In The Drone Racing League

DRL Racing Simulator recreates actual courses in a virtual environment

Travel december 1, 2016

Hotel Chain Is Giving Away Its Not-So-Super Hotel Art At Art Basel

A lesson in how to advertise a kitschy-to-cool redesign in the middle of Miami Art Week

No search results found.