Friday, April 20, 2012

Nike Fueled. The Nike Fuelband

Oh dear. This morning I was close to rip my hair out. Why? I managed to secure a Nike Fuelband this time around since it has been out of stock for a while on the Nike website. Two days ago, it arrived. 


Setting it up was already quite a hassle. You download the software from the Nike site, and then it guides you to “plug in your fuelband” to “type in height and weight” and then you have to connect it to a Nike+ account on the Nike+ community.  I already have a login because I have used this pod sensor for the shoes, but I could not remember my password. So, I created a new account with a different email. The annoying thing was that basically the account creation never seemed to go through. The application kicked me out, before it completed. When I started again, the account was ‘already taken’ with the email I had just used. So, I tried to log in with the new email. “Password and email don’t match”. I reset the password. “Password and email don’t match”. 

I tried my old account, reset the password, no avail. Same problem: can’t login.
When I tried the third email I have it finally went through, and the set-up finished. Doh!

On to the next hassle: synching my fuelband with an app on an IPod Touch. Downloading the apps was easy; login was (finally) easy, but finding the right mode on the fuelband to pair the Bluetooth devices was a bit more of hassle.

So, 2 evenings ago I was finally ‘connected’ and ready to test run the fuel band. I have used the Bodymedia armband for over 3 years, and love it. I was curious how ‘similar’ the ‘calories burnt’ readings on the 2 different sensory devices would be. I synched a few times during the day, both the armband as well as the fuelband with the IPod touch, and I could see the following:
  • The fuelband does not track sleep (it basically says “you burnt no calories in the last 8h of sleep”, now that a cool energy efficient machine, my body, I should patent it).  The bodymedia device give you a reading about length of sleep, quality of it, and energy expended.
  • However, the fuelband made up for it during the day, and caught up with giving me readings on calories burnt that were even ahead of the body media device.
  • By the afternoon, the fuelband was ahead of the bodymedia device by about 150kcal.
I typically synch and recharge my devices in the morning. So, this morning I first uploaded and charged the bodymedia armband, and then went ahead to upload the Nike fuelband. This is where the trouble started.

I plugged in the fuelband in the USB port and the Nike Connect+ software started but got stuck (see pict). It just would not upload to Nike+. 


I reinstalled the software, and tried it. Nope. I did a soft reset on the fuelband (thanks for loosing yesterday’s data). Nope. I tried a Mac and downloaded the software. Nope. I tried yet another computer. Nope. They ALL got stuck at exactly the same step: connect to I realized the App on the IPod touch did also not synch with the website.
I poked around the Nike website, and there is basically NO troubleshooting information whatsoever. Googling the problems just turned up reports on all kinds of other nasty problems I did not have. By this time I was ready to call a representative at customer support and but I was afraid that I would yell at this poor person.

I suspected that the setup process had associated the fuelband with the first email address that I tried (but that did not get through as account setup), and now it tried to upload to the wrong account. So, factory reset and starting over would solve this problem, but you can only do a factory setup via  the Nike Connect+ software. And that was immediately stuck in trying to connect to the Nike website once started up. Argh. “There must be another way!”

Back to my friend, Dr Google. I typed in ‘nike fuelband hard reset” and ‘nike fuelband factory settings” and I found a great resource of help: the Nikefuel twitter account. It is 80% tech support and redirecting people to customer support for returning the fuelband and a little bit of applauding high fuel numbers. 

But I did find a tip that helped me to solve the problem. “Disable internet access. Plug-in fuelband. Start Nike+ Connect. Reset to factory settings'”.

So, I did. 

And then I went through the set-up process again, from the start with the Nike account that actually worked. Somehow, that glued a little tag to the fuelband know where it has to upload. Now, when I try uploading it goes through to Nike. Halleluja. 

On all computers. 

That was painful set-up process. And frustrating. And not a lot of help on the Nike website. Nike, please
  • add troubleshooting to your website or redirect to the twitter tech guru
  • make sure that the account creation works!!

Now, the question is: what is fuel? Since it is different from calories, I wonder. 

To be continued...


  1. Hmm interesting! I have the BodyMedia band and I LOVE mine. However, I had been interested in trying the Nike one, (my BodyMedia one I've had for so long that it doesn't have the smartphone compatability, which I wanted.) It sounds like the Nike one is kind of a pain though, so I think I'll stick with my BodyBugg!

    1. I am considering returning the fuelband... It does not really report how many calories I have burnt during the day (yesterday, it reported I burnt 340kcal from noon to midnight???), and 'fuel' is a Nike measure of activity, which it also does not translate to calories burnt/day.

      I liked the small form of the fuelband (instead of the big bodymedia armband), but the info of the bodymedia device is definitely better.

    2. "Fuel" is what you make of it. It is merely a measure of activity. Call it anything that you want. The key is that you are measuring something in a consistent manner, and tracking it, and that provides you a feedback loop to map what you do, when, and how it works for you. Nike could have called it "air", "breath", "feet", or "poop" for that matter. Changing from the fuel band to something else because there isn't a BTU output or something to define fuel is kind of silly.

      Try this. Use it for a while, and after a couple of weeks look at calories, miles, steps and fuel and try to figure out if there is a simple algorithm that they use.

      I like the fuel band. I'm not the most active person, but getting more active. This helps me see just how much I need to increase and then I can gauge how it is affecting how I feel, how I look, etc.

      Good luck in whatever you choose.

  2. I had this same issue and this worked for me as well! Now my questions involve traveling. Can this be charged from something other than a computer and how does this respond to changing time zones?

  3. Always wonder if these bands really help your workout in any way? Motivation?

    1. I think it depends on the person. Some play competitive games with their friends and use the bands for fun, but I think most people just hold themselves accountable. You still have to move and be active, the band won't do that for you ;-) But for some it might be eye-opening how much 'exercise' they already get with running a household or chasing after kids, or gardening.