Factor reviews: Nike+ FuelBand SE

The Nike+ FuelBand has become a bit of a love-it-or-hate-it case among the big-brand fitness trackers – and we can see why.

The wristband uses a built-in accelerometer to measure movement in the brand’s NikeFuel unit. An LED display operated by a single, subtle button lets you cycle through time, NikeFuel, calories and steps, with a line of coloured lights showing the progress towards your daily fuel goal.

You can also set basic activity sessions on the band’s – fairly limited – built-in menu. Sessions let you track the time elapsed and the NikeFuel earned, as well as a fuel per minute average.

The related app offers more detailed analysis including daily and monthly breakdowns, a range of NikeFuel related stats, goals and achievements as well as the option to customise goals and sessions and social sharing.

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Synching the band to smart phones requires Bluetooth 4.0, which means it won’t work on anything below iPhone 4S. The app runs on iOS 6.1 and above, iPod touch 5th generation and above and Android devices using Jelly Bean 4.3 and above. The band charges and connects to computers via USB 2.0.

We’re not convinced by the FuelBand’s accuracy as the NikeFuel earned seems to depend largely on how much you wave your arm while walking or running – or indeed while sitting on the sofa. This also limits its use for more stationary forms of exercise – think push-ups or abs – where you may end up with very little tracking depending on the movement.

Unlike some of its competitors the FuelBand offers no heart rate monitoring, sleep tracking or GPS info and is water resistant rather than fully waterproof.

Design-wise it certainly sits at the more stylish end of the fitness wristband spectrum, but the black rubbery material is a bit of a dust and dirt magnet. The band is available in three sizes which can be further adjusted with removable links and a sizing tool, but we still found it a bit too rigid and bulky to be worn comfortably all day.

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As the name suggests, the FuelBand is primarily aimed at counting NikeFuel. Unless you’re using NikeFuel across the brand’s range of – pretty awesome – workout apps and to share your achievements with the Nike+ community, this somewhat random unit isn’t much use in measuring activity or level of fitness.

This makes the FuelBand more of a gadget for Nike fans or recovering couch potatoes who appreciate the motivation provided by a clear daily goal and the social sharing options, but for us it didn’t tick all the boxes for an all-round useful fitness tracker.

Factor’s verdict:

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2/5: WE’RE NOT CONVINCED


Images courtesy of Nike


Touch the beat: Wearable music control at your fingertips

A new design using Bluetooth technology allows its wearers to control their music apps simply by tapping their fingers together.

The product, GoGlove, is a thin glove liner that was originally conceived for skiers and snowboarders, enabling them to change their music while in motion on the slopes. However, the glove can be used in any workout or activity where holding a phone to control music would be difficult, such as running, biking or skating.

Tiny sensors in the fingertips and thumb can play a song, pause it, change it and increase or decrease volume. Eric Ely and Ben Harris, cousins and creators of the GoGlove, have named these fingertip sensors “airtap technology,” powered by a battery that can last up to six months with daily use.

The glove can control your music library on iOS or Android, and is also able to work with third party apps such as Pandora and Spotify.

According to GoGlove’s newly launched Kickstarter campaign, the stretch goals for the design will help the team to create an app that lets users customize the glove, activating Siri or changing music with whichever finger you prefer.

Harris and Ely plan to release an API for the GoGlove that is open for public use, so that other app developers can also implement the GoGlove into their apps.

In this way, runners and other athletes could use the glove to control their exercise apps and hear their mileage and calorie burn reported to them with a tap of their fingers.

Another stretch goal will fund the development of the GoBand, a wristband that uses the same wireless technology to control music in warmer weather, when the use of a glove would be uncomfortable.

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Interest in wearable technology has skyrocketed in the past few years, with the development of everything from jewellery that gives you phone notifications to hoodies that send text messages. The GoGlove brings another aspect to the field of wearables as a way to simplify control over your music on-the-go.

These wearables and their various uses are helpful and exciting, but as more and more hit the consumer market, the true feat will be integrating all of their capabilities into a single item. Perhaps one day there will be a wearable that eliminates the need to have different products for wireless music control, phone notifications, text sending and the many other functions that are available.

Though that day has not yet arrived, GoGlove presents a new way to think about phone-free music control and another possible form for the integration of many more functions.


Images and video courtesy of GoGlove’s Kickstarter page.