Thursday March 27th, 2014

Not knowing exactly what Nike “fuel” signifies doesn’t make the second-version Nike+ FuelBand SE activity tracker any less addictive for both everyday use and workouts.

This lightweight thermo plastic elastomer band—worn bracelet-like on the wrist and doubling as a watch—doesn’t attempt to substitute for a hardcore workout monitor. Instead, it uses algorithms to turn daylong activity into “Nike fuel,” that is, steps taken and calories burned.

A three-axis accelerometer sensor within the .30-inch-thick $149 water-resistant band measures any movement you make in three different planes. The imbedded software—completely updated from the first version, both in algorithms and circuit board capability—translates movement into fuel units, urging you toward your adjustable daily goal (2,500 is the average for active folks).

Without GPS or heart-rate monitors, covet the fuel.

The LED readout, activated by pressing the band’s lone button, displays real-time data. For iOS devices, a simple built-in Bluetooth connection downloads up to three months’ worth of FuelBand activity into the app, which holds your history and offers up hourly activity reports (think: graphs! charts!), social sharing and activity archiving. Non-iOS users can connect via built-in USB (the USB port is also the clasp used to close the bracelet, keeping openings to a minimum) to a PC.

The updated version features the addition of “sessions,” which track specified activities and data storage for later review—while rewarding movement intensity through fuel-rate readout. Users can log various session activities and create activity-specific workout histories.

The FuelBand needs its fuel, too, requiring a charge every three to five days, although we’ve seen it last even longer, via a USB connection to any power source.

The idea of “earning fuel” may sound hokey, but live with the FuelBand for a while and you’ll start craving it—which may actually motivate you to move. Call it adding fuel to your fire.

Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, design and gear for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.

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