When you’re charging from a computer, the band launches the Nike+ website which displays how many goals you’ve hit, showing what the last seven days’ activity amounted to and how you compare to other people in your age group. The site is comprehensive, showing exactly when each day your exercise spiked. And it colour-codes how well you’ve been doing, from red through to green.
Prepare to be patronised...
This is the other detail on the bracelet. Press the button to reveal your NikeFuel gauge and on the top edge of the band a row of coloured lights appear, ranging from red through amber to green. One green light flickers tantalisingly faraway on the right to show you just how much busier you need to be to reach today’s goal.
There’s also an iPhone app which pairs with the Fuelband using Bluetooth and keeps your data in sync. It also has a series of colourful and mildly entertaining animations, where a cartoon figure helps you celebrate as you reach a milestone such as your longest streak or a total of 50,000 NikeFuel units.
This is where the Fuelband really scores: goals reached feel like triumphs and keep spurring you on. Touch the band at the right moment, when you’ve reached your target and the display shows a flashing “GOAL”. It becomes addictive – you don’t want to disappoint the Fuelband by not reaching your score tomorrow.
Indeed, a fitness monitor is there to change your behaviour, but it can make you do things its way. I was brought up not to walk around with my hands jammed in my pockets. And now I make sure I don’t – because the Fuelband doesn’t rate smaller movements as highly as jauntily swinging arms.
This gadget is one of many. The Fitbit that clips to your belt is less intrusive, but forget to transfer it to your shorts at the gym and those steps go uncounted. The Jawbone Up has a handy vibration feature which means you can use it as a very effective alarm to shake you awake in the morning. But the absence of a screen is a shame and the connection of the Up to your phone from a 3.5mm jack is a little clunky.
In an increasingly crowded market, the Nike+ FuelBand stands out because of its neat design, clear display and convenient size. It would have been good if it could monitor your sleep, as Jawbone Up and Fitbit can, or wake you with a gentle vibration, but the main benefits are enough. It can quickly become addictive, so if you’re near your target as the day wanes, you find yourself going for a walk just to see the GOAL screen light up. Which is no bad thing. ®
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