Nike recently discontinued Nike Fuel bands and fired a bunch of related staff. However, President and CEO Mark Parker said the company still plans to be a part of wearables going forward through partnerships to create more reach for the existing Fuel system. Does this mean that Nike is out of the fitness tracking wristband business? Is Nike going to concentrate on software and apps and let others figure out the hardware? Or, does it mean that fitness tracking wristbands were a fad? Nike may stand for excellence in sports and fitness, but Nike Fuel did not stand for excellence in fitness tracking technology. Its unique combination of hardware and software was an experiment in fitness tracking, but Fuel points were an arbitrary metric that helped you accomplish nothing. It may be a sign that fitness tracking wristbands a fad, but the Quantified Self movement – of which fitness tracking wristbands are only one small part – is going to be here for long while. So get ready: this is just the beginning.
Japanese watchmaker Yamasa Tokei had a cool idea: a small wearable device that uses the natural motions of your body to keep track of how many steps you take. Tokei called his device the Manpo-Kei, roughly translated as “10,000-step meter.” That was almost 50 years ago. The problem is that, since then, the pitch for fitness trackers has barely changed. The curtailing of Nike’s Fuelband highlights the problem when wearable tech doesn’t offer enough that’s new to justify its existence. Keeping track of your steps in an app or getting a badge when you reach a goal might not be enough to justify the purchase of a new piece of hardware, or more importantly to really change your habits for the better. The real power of wearables is more likely to lie not in the devices themselves but in the underlying software layer that integrates your own activity with data from other, seemingly disparate sources.
Read the full story at Wired.