There are those days that feel busier, harder and more draining than others for no apparent reason. It feels like on that one day you exerted significantly more energy than the day before, where your schedule was very similar.

This energy difference, where some days you end the day feeling rather drained and on others full of verve has been largely unquantifiable. Mostly put down to poor sleep, the heat or just being on their feet the whole day. Now with the convergence of the three distinct markets of technology, sport and fashion quantifying your daily activity is becoming not just mainstream but seriously cool.

Nike is the first to take the lead in this area, with their Nike+ brand. Largely known for linking their iPhone app to your shoes to monitor your jog* and sharing that info with your friends.

Last year the sports fashion brand took a further leap past sports tracking into activity tracking with the Nike+ Fuelband. The Fuelband is a polypropylene band that is worn like a watch and uses a built in accelerometer to track daily activity. The Fuelband tracks  steps and calories burned and converts this info into something called Nike Fuel – an activity currency. The Fuelband has one button, before you press it the Fuelband looks completely black. But this button serves to scroll through the time, calories burned, steps taken and Nike Fuel which shine through the polypropylene when the button is pressed. This, invisible until pressed look of the Fuelband makes its visual appeal seriously awesome.

The Fuelband charges via USB by plugging it into a computer. The battery life, I found to be roughly three days. When plugged into a computer for the first time, the browser launches to let you download Nike+ Connect, a Mac and Windows app that syncs your Fuelband to your Nike+ online account. This app launches each subsequent time the Fuelband is plugged in. With all this technology inside the Fuelband, I was petrified to take a shower with it, but after much Google’ing I found it to be safe and I have showered with it every day since. That said, it is only water resistant so it will drown if you take a bath or swim with it.

Here is where the interactivity of the Fuelband starts. Because it monitors your daily activity you can set goals of Nike Fuel or Calories burned. These goals can be shared and compared with friends who are also using a Nike+ product to get a sort of social motivation to be active. To me this was the real appeal of the Fuelband, when I get that “I really don’t feel like gym today” feeling, knowing that I will miss my Nike Fuel goal makes me get up and even have a quick session – which is better than nothing!

Furthering the geeky interactivity, the Fuelband syncs via Bluetooth to the iPhone app. This app, like the Mac and Windows app, syncs your activity to your Nike+ account. It also allows navigation through your goals, your activity over the last year and how active you are in comparison to your friends with Nike+ gear.

The Fuleband is a fantastic gadget, it is not for the die-hard gym bunnies because the information it gathers is not substantial enough to really help with training but it is a seriously cool watch with geeky benefits.

I have three real gripes with the Fuelband which I hope will be sorted in the second generation of the device. Firstly, this rubbish about it not being waterproof – I am a swimmer and it is seriously annoying not being able to track my swimming. Secondly, the technology is very basic. In fact, there are iPhone and Android apps that monitor the same things for free. Hopefully, heart rate, temperature and altitude will be taken into account in the next iteration of the Fuelband. Finally, Nike has been promising an Android App now for ages – still nothing.

For now though, I love my Fuelband. It gives me that little kick every day to go to gym and be active, it looks cool and it has a geeky element missing from almost every other watch.

Colours: Black, Ice White and Ice Black

Availability: Apple and Nike Stores Canada, USA and UK. Expected in South Africa late March 2013. Can be imported grey via wantitall.co.za for a 133% premium

Pricing: 150USD, 1500ZAR est.

*Definition: “jogging or yogging. it might be a soft j. I’m not sure but apparently you just run for an extended period of time. It’s supposed to be wild.” Source: Ron Burgundy

Brendon Ambrose – Managing Editor | About Me – Scared of: Clowns, spiders and Hilary Clinton; Dream Wing Man: Jacob Zuma; Started Writing Tech: 2005 for Gadget.co.za; Favorite cereal: Frosties; Find me on: Twitter & Facebook
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