Mar 242013
 

Fashion, fitness, and information technology have merged to create a line of various wearable media gadgets (most of which can be worn on the wrist) that track certain elements of your daily activity. Some of the most popular gadgets include the Nike+ FuelBand (a collaborative effort between Nike and Apple), the FitBit One and Zip, Jawbone Up, and the Body Media Fit. So what is the craze?

Due to all of the attention this product has received, I decided to take a trip to an official Nike store to experience the product in person versus online. I found my way to the two manned display which housed the product that utilizes man and machine to create a cybernetic experience, the Nike+ FuelBand. Upon my first glance, the bracelet appeared to be stylish and aesthetically pleasing. A number of consumers were huddled around the display asking various questions in reference to how the gadget collects data, size availability, color offerings, and the material used to make the product. The most interesting question asked by a potential owner was, “Do you have this in purple?” From that moment on I realized that this device is not just for measuring fitness, it is also a fashion accessory that can measure one’s ability to communicate fashion savvy by wearing the band. Furthermore, it opens the door for unlimited data collection.

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How it looks

The Nike+ FuelBand fits on the left or right wrist and is worn like a bracelet. It is made with thermoplastic rubber called TPE and polypropylene. The bracelet comes in sizes ranging from small to large with each band containing a spacer that can enlarge the bracelet for an even more custom fit. It comes in four colors: black, white, Black Ice and White Ice (translucent in appearance). The band has 20 LED lights that range from red, yellow, and green to serve as signifiers of goal attainment. There are an additional 100 white LED lights which enables the user to view FuelPoints, calories, and steps taken that can be cycled through with the use of one button.

How it works

The FuelBand allows the user to track calories, steps, and activity (which can be limited by the type of physical activity the user engages in). The inside of the band contains a triaxial accelerometer that senses movement and the tilt of the device. FuelPoints are generated as a result of physical activity which is measured by oxygen kinetics. It contains two lithium polymer batteries and can be charged via a built in USB, which also is the clasp that closes the bracelet. Additionally, the band has a built in Bluetooth chip that allows the user to sync activity information on the internet or with their smartphone. An online article released by Mashable stated that there are over 11 million Nike+ users. The users earn more the 1 billion points a day, which is enough to power 6,772 houses daily.

Why it works

In the article “7 Reasons Why Wearables are Poised To Disrupt Our Lives”, The Nike+ FuelBand is hailed as being highly regarded in wearable products because it is a wearable device that has the ability to house our body’s information. A panel of developers, designers and analyst engaged in a brainstorming session and the following seven reasons why wearables are poised to disrupt our lives were noted as such:

  1. The smartphone’s novelty has worn off, and people want new toys.
  2. Now that digital has impacted our lifestyle (we already share our lives on Facebook), digital can become a lifestyle product (we’ll let the tech seep deeper into our personal lives).
  3. These devices can appeal to techies, by looking like tech, or everyday people, by looking like fashion.
  4. Sensor-based appcessories are unlocking data that we’ve never had before on the human body and the way we live.
  5. By blending so well into our lives (and our bodies), wearables can paradoxically reduce the time we spend on our cell phones, which everybody      wants.
  6. A wearable’s immediate feedback can guide us to choices that make us feel better, immediately.
  7. But all this data will merge atoms and bits in ways we can’t predict.

I found this article and short video very interesting because it brings up the fashion and technology aspect of the wearable devices, such as the Nike+ FuelBand. I purchased one of these bracelets to get a first-hand experience with the product. I found myself enjoying the bracelet as well as thinking of all the possibilities the evolution of this technology could unleash.

 Enjoyment

  1. The bracelet is stylish and non-obtrusive; the user typically wants other people to see it and ask questions about it.
  2.  The bracelet makes you feel like you belong to an exclusive community that at least on the surface are interested or diligent about being fit and enjoying an active lifestyle.
  3. This data is secure to a certain extent, but it can be retrieved to create reports that analyze:
  • The amount of FuelPoints that are earned collectively at any given time (minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, etc.)
  • Activities that are engaged in most frequently
  • Collective amount of calories tracked at any given time

The Possibilities

The FuelBand not only serves as a fashion statement as previously described, but it also serves as a possible gateway to a lot of data that can be tracked. Currently, the band utilizes a Bluetooth chip to sync your fitness activity to the Web or your smartphone. What if this device or others similar to it are programmed to not only track our activity, but also track where we are at any given point in which we are wearing the device? What if this device can be used in the field of biometrics to help identify us and give us access to things that are intended to be secure and only accessible to the individual wearing the device? It is only a matter of time until such devices will become completely integrated into our lives just as the cell phone, tablets, and computers have been. However, the early adopters have the opportunity to shape the direction in which the devices will propel and be further utilized in the future.

Maybe one day the man asking for a purple bracelet will be able to change the color himself with the push of a button or maybe the bracelet can be programmed to change colors based on the mood and emotional state of the user.

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