5 Tips on Making The Nike Fuelband Work for You:
Last week I spoke about my initial thoughts of using the device. This week I’m going to talk about how to fully use the Nike Fuelband to your advantage. One recent NYTimes article laments the Fuelband’s capabilities, calling it inaccurate. I agree with some of the statements; it is difficult to make use of the metrics given if you do not know how they are being calculated. That said, my first tip is:
1) Ignore the Calorie Counting
Upon setup, the device asks for your height and weight, which I can confidently say is there to calculate a body mass index (BMI) for the user. BMI is a good tool for rough estimates of weight in a population but it is a poor measure of weight in individuals. Fuelband users also are not given information about how any of the calories are counted either. Combining that lack of transparency and a rough measure of the individual it is accounting for, the Nike Fuelband’s calorie counting capabilities are unreliable at best. This is okay though – it is of my opinion that those concerned about calories should be focusing on eating healthier and being more physically active, rather than counting estimated numbers anyway.
I also mentioned last week that those considering purchasing this Fuelband need to consider why they are purchasing this device. I can think of three possibilities: increasing daily physical activity, motivating yourself to exercise, or motivating yourself to exercise even more than you already do (these are all different!). Depending on which category you fall into, I offer some different approaches to the Fuelband.
If you want to increase your daily physical activity – much in the way that Nike wants you to use the device (as an all-day monitoring device), then the following is imperative:
2) Find Your Fuel Sweetspot
I personally believe that the Fuel number itself is the only helpful metric that is being provided by the tool – all the other information being provided is too unreliable to be ultimately helpful. However the Fuel, while not transparent, gives you a daily goal to beat. It is up to the end user to account for the device’s monitoring shortcomings and adjust accordingly. In the *cough* one time, I chose to run to supplement my daily activity, I found that a light, 15-minute, 1 mile jog earned me around 300 Fuel. If I wanted to commit to performing this activity daily, I would add 300 Fuel to my daily goal. By doing so I could motivate myself to jog or perform a physical activity of equal movement. Maybe instead of jogging I could skip the elevator for the stairs, walk my dogs a little longer, or do a 50 jumping jacks – whatever it takes to reach that newfound goal.
Making a Fuel goal that is specific to your own needs is essential. It could take a long time to figure out this number and in my second week using it, I am still searching for it but you can’t count on the Fuelband simply working right out of the box.Now, if you want this device to motivate you to exercise more – it may not work as something to wear all day. Consider the following strategy:
3) Lower Your Goal & Wear the Fuelband During Low Activity Periods
Again this will take trial and error to match the Fuelband’s capabilities to your needs but this is a good way to encourage more physical activity in a smaller time-span and in a way that might be more quantifiable to the user. The smaller the Fuel goal, the easier it will be for the end-user to translate Fuel quantities into quantities physical activity. It is difficult to really understand how much daily activity was contributed to my 2000 goal throughout a day but maybe 500 points in a three hour period could be easily translated into a 30 minute jog or anything else that achieves a similar amount. After all, it is during these periods of free-time when we have time to exercise – perhaps this could be the right approach to more physical activity in one day.
I suggest a similar strategy for those already well vested in a workout plan and want to push themselves further:
4) Use the Fuelband as Your Personal Leaderboard
Simply use the Fuelband only during bouts of exercise or training. You will have to lower your goal again but this information can be much more meaningful than wearing during exercise in addition to total daily activity. For runners, it seems that various reviews have stated people bought the Fuelband for this purpose but end up returning it and opting for the Nike+ Sportwatch with GPS instead. This device is really only helpful for runners though. You could use this strategy for any other physical activity and use the daily emotion tracker to record the progress of each session. Of course, this will also need an assessment of a baseline over time but most people who workout often will likely have a good idea of what that means.
I also have one final tip for people who want to make the Fuelband work for any reason:
5) Hack It or Wait Until Someone Else Does
During this year’s SXSW, Nike opened up the FuelBand API for developers to hack. There has not been any publicly released hacks from the events but people are hard at work trying to crack the Fuelband to access all the great data its tracking. There is one incredible video of Stinkdigital hacking the Fuelband to make it monitor daily twitter activity. I’ve also found one man’s quest to hack the Fuelband in a 30-minute video. As time goes on, I believe we will see many more ways to use this cool little device as third parties develop it more.
So there you go, these are my top 5 tips on making the Fuelband work for you. If you have any comments, questons, or remarks about tips placed forth today, feel free to comment below or tweet @GamificationCo. And in case anyone is wondering, my personal user ID on Nike+ is wangsauce – and I would be happy to have some more friends and competition.